If you’re more than a little intrigued by the robotics and automation solutions you saw at ProMat in March, I’m going to venture a guess you might be planning a trip to Detroit later this month to attend Automate (May 22-25), an event that focuses on the latest in automation, robotics, AI and motion control.
If you are, you’ve come to the right place. This issue was designed to be a bit of a primer, a push to inspire those readers who’ve been on the fence, but are now moving forward on their plans to evaluate and apply some level of robotics and automation into their operations.
We kick off with a System Report that shares how Carhartt is meeting new demands by partnering with DHL to build out a network with flexible automation; we share the results of our new Intralogistics Robotics Study (p. 36); we cover some robotics basics; and then explain the latest robotics software trend that’s based on platforms that specialize in orchestrating interactions between different robotic systems and traditional automation.
Modern readers have seen DHL pop up on our print and digital pages, and for good reason—they’ve been front and center in the intralogistics robotics revolution. And while the majority of the coverage has been on the 3PL’s innovation process to improve productivity and ease labor pains, this story is focused more on the benefit of a scalable partnership.
“Without question, productivity is important to Carhartt,” says executive editor Bob Trebilcock. “But the iconic apparel brand has another problem—growing pains.”
As Trebilcock reports, Carhartt’s business is increasing exponentially, and the team realized the only way to keep up was to partner with a 3PL that could quickly add capacity and use flexible automation like AMRs, go live in a hurry, and scale up and down to meet seasonal demand.
“With DHL, Carhartt now has a fulfillment partner with deep experience in e-fulfillment and more autonomous mobile robots in operation than any other global operation,” says Trebilcock. “What’s more, the 3PL is preparing to expand its robotics portfolio from AMRs to robotic container unloading, with plans to use the technology in one of the Carhartt facilities.”
And while big, global operations such as DHL have been leading the way, Modern is happy to report that all the enthusiasm we’ve been seeing around robotics is penetrating just about every size of operation.
According to the findings of our new Intralogistics Robotics Study, conducted by Peerless Research Group (PRG) across Modern’s readership, 43% of our readers plan to use robots in their facilities at some point in the next three years, 37% have already made a move in this direction, while another 13% plan to start using robots by 2026 or later.
“You could feel the enthusiasm for robotics as we you walked the floor at ProMat,” says Bridget McCrea, our editor at large who worked on the survey. “It was everywhere, and now we see data that supports this momentum in our own research as well as other surveys. By 2026, Gartner predicts 75% of large enterprises will have adopted some form of intralogistics smart robots inside their warehouse and DC environments—and there are no signs of this slowing down.”