Individual Investors

How robotics and AI are transforming supply chains

The COVID-19 crisis has shed a light on how fragile supply chains can be, with essentials from toilet paper to milk vanishing from shelves. The solution could be robotics, automation and AI according to a new paper from ROBO Global, the index provider behind ETFS ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ASX code: ROBO).

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The current pandemic has demonstrated how heavily existing supply chains rely on a human labour force. While many companies, such as Coles, already had plans to incorporate automation, it is likely that the current situation will accelerate this trend.

There are five key areas where robotics, automation and AI are likely to transform supply chains.

  1. Automated warehouse solutions

    High flying robots, such as from Verity, can assist with access and inspection of inventory at warehouses allowing for taller warehouses and increasing safety for the human workforce.

  2. Warehouse picking and packing

    Picking and packing is highly labour intensive. Using robots has been a game-changer for companies like Amazon and Walmart.

  3. Online grocers

    Online orders for groceries substantially increased during COVID-19 lockdowns and the convenience may see the interest continue. Companies like Ocado, with sophisticated warehouse technology and robotics, are selling their technology to other partners like Coles.

  4. Micro-fulfilment

    Think curbside pick-up of orders, but facilitated by automated technology.

  5. Prepared food delivery

    Restaurants have struggled to keep up with food delivery demand during lockdown periods so ‘ghost kitchens’ designed just for food prepared solely for delivery may assist.

Restaurants have struggled to keep up with food delivery demand during lockdown periods so ‘ghost kitchens’ designed just for food prepared solely for delivery may assist.

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