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Could the market for automated warehouse storage & retrieval systems hit $15bn by 2030?

Investment in warehouse automation and management systems continues to rise as supply chains look to resolve exposed weaknesses and create greater resilience to macroeconomic headwinds.

According to ABI Research, Automated Storage & Retrieval System (AS/RS) revenues are expected to surpass $15 billion globally by 2030, and Warehouse Management System (WMS) revenues are expected to exceed $10 billion by the same period.

Ryan Wiggin, Supply Chain Management & Logistics Industry Analyst at ABI Research, said: “Global supply chain challenges over the last three years have highlighted the need for digitalisation and a deeper restructuring of inventory management. Labor constraints, geopolitical trade shifts, and inventory gluts continue to pressure warehouse operations, and the most impacted organisations continue to be those with lower focus on digital transformations.”

AS/RS vendors, including AutoStore, Ocado, and Swisslog, as well as Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) vendors such as inVia Robotics, Locus Robotics, and Vecna Robotics, are leading the structural automation charge, while established and emerging WMS vendors such as Blue Yonder, Manhattan Associates, and Snapfulfil continue to add new functionalities to orchestrate and optimize both the manual and automated workflows.

In addition to the growth in automation and management systems, high investment in hardware and devices is expected to increase worker productivity, as manual worker involvement remains necessary alongside the adoption of automated equipment. Global shipments of handheld devices for warehouse workers will grow at a CAGR of 20% to 2030, led by market leaders such as Zebra and Honeywell.

New warehouse building is expected to drop by as much as 35% in 2023 compared to 2022. It is creating an even greater incentive to invest in the automation of current facilities to ease operational constraints. Disruption to new developments will be short-lived, with steady growth in warehouse construction expected to 2030, led by a much greater CAGR in global e-commerce fulfillment center development at 18%.

“Successful deployments by Tier One organizations continue to spur the adoption of technologies within small-medium enterprises. Solutions providers must continue to offer accessible adoption through as-a-service models and scalable structures, and exploring partnerships with complementary technology will be key to deploying market-leading end-to-end solutions,” concluded Wiggin.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Smart Warehousing market data report.

Image by falco from Pixabay

Ensuring resilient warehouses with high-performance bonded internet  

If there is one word to define 2022, it is ‘unpredictable.’ The European logistics industry, in particular, has had a rollercoaster of a year so far, and, as a result, supply chain agility has proven to be of utmost importance. The ability to react quickly to changes in the market, unexpected hurdles and fluctuating customer demand is imperative – and warehouses play an important role in maximising operational efficiency.

And, while the latest innovations on the market from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) might seem appealing, warehouse managers first need to consider the role that basic internet connectivity has on business performance. Still too many logistics businesses are relying on getting fixed line or fibre internet access into their warehouses, and as a result, are experiencing unnecessary delays and disruptions to their operations.

Instead, alternative connectivity solutions, such as bonded internet technology, can play a crucial role in ensuring business resilience, explains Nick Sacke, Head of Operations and Pre-Sales, Comms365. By having a strong internet connection in place from day one, especially ahead of any peak shopping trends, warehouses can continue to underpin effective trading, while maximising their flexibility and agility to future-proof the business against further challenges…

Challenging Landscape  

Internet connectivity is essential for organisations in every industry, including logistics. As ongoing hurdles continue to create new challenges for the sector, from rising costs, ongoing supply chain disruptions, a shortage of workers and increasing pressure to meet consumer demand, warehouse managers must explore how they can survive and succeed in this challenging landscape.

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, research has found that take-up and costs for logistics spaces have continued to increase, driven largely by growth in eCommerce. Yet, despite increased demand, the development of new sites is hampered by a large volume of requirements – including location, size and connectivity – which is limiting the ability for growth. But what if rural locations were no longer considered a barrier, especially when it comes to internet capabilities?

With fluctuations and seasonal changes, logistics businesses need to ensure that any potential delays that impact their operations are minimised. The ability for bandwidth and infrastructure to be able to scale up (and/or down) as business demand changes and connectivity requirements fluctuate has never been more important – especially within warehouses. In order to overcome these challenges, whilst making better use of the resources already available, having reliable, yet agile, internet performance on-site is key.

Bonded Internet Technology

To overcome existing and potentially new challenges, especially for warehouses where there is often no current connection, logistics businesses can invest in a communications resource that meets the business’ Internet needs, regardless of location. Gone are the days when Internet connectivity was restricted to a fixed-line provision, and now, devices utilising software-defined networking can be implemented – which connect to the Internet using mobile technology.

By mitigating the delays related to fixed line installations, logistics businesses can benefit from this added flexibility and unlock the ability to rapidly open new warehouses when Internet services are required urgently, irrespective of where these may be located – even in the most rural of sites. Certain locations where new warehouses are being built may not have a telecoms infrastructure yet, but logistics businesses no longer need to wait and experience these delays when an immediate Internet connection is now available.

By integrating Internet connections from different carriers to create a single ‘virtual Internet pipe,’ advanced bonded wireless Internet solutions enable organisations to add important resilience and backup capability to their connection, while building in contingency with an automatic failover should one of the lines fail.

Furthermore, advanced bonded Internet solutions can be implemented in a single warehouse or multiple sites, with management and visibility of the whole estate accessible through a single portal. In addition to reliable performance, the speed of deployment is appealing. Bonded internet connections can be rolled out on-site immediately, offering instant internet connectivity – minimising delays, whilst offering rapid productivity and efficiency gains.

Investing in the Foundations for Future Innovations 

Over the last few years, the logistics industry has recognised the importance of creating smart warehouses and digitising processes as a means of survival and remaining competitive. With rapid developments in the technology available, from IoT, Machine Learning (ML), AI,  and the use of robotics, the warehouse of the future is likely to be as innovative as possible.

However, these technologies can only be successful if warehouses have high-speed and reliable Internet network connectivity in place to support the use of these innovations. Without having the right connectivity foundations in place, these technologies could soon become a poor investment. Put simply, any drive to improve operational efficiency through digital tools today relies on having high-speed and reliable Internet connectivity on-site to achieve maximum value.


To remain competitive and meet both consumer demand and expectations, especially during peak season, the logistics industry must implement both smarter processes and technology. But to make this a reality, the first step is to abandon outdated operations and management methods, and instead, ensure that the fundamentals of warehouse Internet connectivity are in place.

Finding an immediate, high-quality Internet network connection no longer needs to be a complex problem, or a struggle to find instant connectivity to minimise negative impacts on projects. Instead, by working with an experienced and trusted provider, who can discuss the available connectivity options for your warehouse, and supply the right Internet solution and service that is needed, can the process become simple and streamlined. With the foundations of strong, reliable and high-speed connectivity in place, firms can capitalise on digitisation and reap the transformative benefits, whilst remaining adaptable and scalable in a challenging

The future of warehousing: Automation, robotics and energy efficiency

The rise of e-commerce is underway and impacting our highstreets – even before the rise of Covid-19. Due to the pandemic, the shift from physical shops towards online spending has accelerated by an average of five years. In 2020, 87% of UK households made purchases online and recent statistics show that 70% now prefer it. Now, E-commerce is booming, and it is a trend that is here to stay, with online retail spending in the UK expected to reach £75 billion by 2024.

So, what does this transition towards digital spending mean logistically for businesses? The race is now on for retailers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers to secure more warehouse space and capture a share in this growing market. As is stands, warehouse space has already increase by 73% since Covid-19 restrictions began in March 2019. In addition to this, Brexit also played a role in companies bringing their supply chains closer to home. It’s predicted that, by 2024, the impact of growing e-commerce sales in the UK could require an additional 92 million sq ft of warehouse space.

Businesses need also address speed and accuracy, with the average consumer expecting rapid deliveries of products that are both made to order and easily returned. Therefore, the pressure is on for businesses to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible to service a growing marketplace with increasingly high expectations – and all with fewer errors and at a lower cost to serve.

This is where technology is set to play a major supporting role, bringing fundamental changes to the ways in which warehouses operate. So, what exactly does the future hold for warehousing? Here, we will explore how technology and energy efficiency will be the driving force behind a successful, smarter, and more sustainable future.

The Internet of things (IoT)

The IoT broadly refers to the connection of devices and sharing data via the internet. In the world of warehousing, this has become an increasingly important driver in boosting automation. Thanks to the IoT, modern warehouses can be more connected, coordinated, and seamless in their operations, helping them manage escalating demand and run more efficiently.

IoT sensors give an object digital intelligence. This enables devices to communicate with other online systems in real-time and share vital data with warehouse workers. Businesses can use the IoT to connect their equipment, robots, drones, and pallets, while monitoring their inventory and even supervising employees remotely. The IoT is particularly useful for a real-time view of inventory and capacity. Businesses can spot gaps when they appear and make best use of available space. Meanwhile, customers can receive full transparency on package tracking.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

A fully optimised WMS can enhance a business’s productivity, boost efficiency, and lower costs by digitising its processes. It also helps avoid common mistakes like slow shipments, poor inventory management, or incorrect product details – all of which can be costly and lead to unhappy customers.

This software assists with an extensive range of key day-to-day operations. These activities might include inventory management, stock replenishment, order picking, labour management, and shipping. Ultimately, it gives an insightful and holistic overview of operations. As a result, informed decisions can be made. For example, an accurate, real-time view of inventory means companies can effectively gauge stock needs and avoid back orders. A WMS can even be used to boost productivity amongst workers, matching them to specific jobs at the right time, and guiding them around the warehouse in the most efficient manner.


Automation has become a key part of boosting warehouse operations. This can enhance efficiency, speed, accuracy, and safety. Over the coming years, all warehouse operation is expected to have some level of automation. In fact, automation is already a significant market, representing over $10 billion in annual global spending.

There are lots of exciting emerging technologies on the horizon, and it appears that the more established, proven technologies will have the biggest initial uptake. Recent industry research reveals that 65% of warehousing operations are expected to invest in conveyors and sortation systems over the next 3 years. 56% will adopt shuttle systems, which allow warehouses to increase throughput and storage density. Even well-established technology – such as stacker cranes and traditional automated guided vehicles (AGVs) – are expected to see relatively high levels of automation adoption.

A way to help transport bulk goods quickly and safely, forklift trucks (FLTs) are a popular form of automation in warehouses. Modern FLTs are fast to fuel, as they do run on liquid gas rather than batteries. Therefore, warehouses with their own centralised supply tank can benefit from automatic top-up technology. This means they always have the power they need, increasing productivity and reducing downtime.


As we look to the future, robots are expected to take centre stage. In warehouses, robots can help operations become more efficient and productive whilst reducing errors and improving safety. It’s estimated that there’ll be around 50,000 robotic warehouses by 2025 with over 4 million robot installations. Robots are already used for a whole host of warehouse functions, from picking and packing, to sorting, batching, transporting, inspection, and security. Many large corporations are investing in these emerging technologies. As of 2021, Amazon has around 350,000 mobile drive units.

Mobile robots have been trending over the past couple of years. Among their many talents, they are particularly helpful for moving goods from warehouse shelves to fulfilment zones. They can also be programmed to perform duties traditionally carried out by conveyors, manual forklifts, carts, and towing machines. Drones are also becoming increasingly important. They are affordable, easily able to reach any part of a warehouse, useful for inventory management (working in tandem with barcode technology), and able to support workers with shipping and delivery.

Energy efficiency

Warehouses often have high energy requirements, from heating to cooling and lighting. According to the Orlando Utilities Commission,  energy costs typically account for 15% of a warehouse’s operating budget. Therefore, businesses are keen for warehouses to become more energy efficient. As well as reducing costs, this will minimise their impact on the environment and reduce emissions.

Renewable energy is set to play a major role in helping warehouses become more sustainable. With large roof areas available, they are already perfectly set up to harness energy from the sun with solar panels.

Renewable green gas will also be a key part of the future sustainable energy mix. Warehouses will be able to use renewable energy for heating or even to power their forklift truck fleet. Once it’s widely available, warehouses already running on commercial LPG will be able to switch from oil to renewable green gas and become carbon neutral without changing any of their equipment.

Lighting is another big energy consumer for warehouses. Significant savings can be made by upgrading to more efficient LEDs, bringing in more natural light with skylights, and controlling lighting more effectively. For example, a warehouse could have automatic lights-out areas where human workers are absent.

Greener, smarter warehouses

There’s no doubt that warehouses are getting greener, and there are a whole host of other efficiency measures available. Energy management systems; cool roof systems; radiant heaters; high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans;green building materials; and measures to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials can all have a major impact. These green initiatives, married with the introduction of digital intelligence, have increased automation. This emergence of new technology means that we can expect a truly smarter, more sustainable, and more productive warehouse in the future.

Overall, the future of warehousing is technological. Warehouses will be digitally intelligent and able to communicate efficiently. For example, warehouse management systems might organise the daily activities of shipments and so on. Modern forklift trucks have evolved to rely on liquid gas, improving productivity in the workplace. Robots operate alongside warehouse workers to optimise labour and companies are investing in renewable energy sources to lead the way in sustainable manufacturing. How will you modernise warehousing?