For any company, the warehouse is the most critical part of its supply chain. Yet, it has been technologically starved for years, making even the most basic operations like sorting, picking, storing and documenting, inefficient and often error-prone and unreliable. Akash Gupta, CTO & co-founder of Singapore-based GreyOrange tells Sudhir Chowdhary that companies around the world, including India, are turning towards technology to improve operational efficiencies in their warehouses, fulfilment and distribution centres. Excerpts:
What is the market opportunity for robotics/automation in India?
In India, the market for industrial automation is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10-12% during 2015-2020, and is expected to touch $3.49 billion by 2020. Moreover, India is touted to be one of the key markets for industrial robotic systems in the Asia Pacific region as it will attract original equipment manufacturers across the globe to set up their manufacturing units due to its low cost of production. Industrial robots have been around for a few decades now in industries such as automotive, making the latter an unprecedented leader in adoption of advanced automation technology. Other early adopters are players in the energy, oil and gas sectors owing to their complex and hazardous manufacturing processes. The entry of robotics in other sectors has been rather slow and sporadic; however, new verticals such as e-commerce, FMCG, retail and pharmaceuticals are gradually adopting robotics systems to move up the value chain.
Tell us about GreyOrange’s current business operations?
Founded in 2011, GreyOrange has grown rapidly from a two-member team to a multinational technology company that designs, manufactures and deploys advanced robotics systems for automation at warehouses, distribution and fulfilment centres. With artificial intelligence, deep engineering and cutting-edge technology at its core, GreyOrange is enabling its customers to simplify business processes and enhance productivity to unprecedented levels.
What will the warehouse of the future look like?
Three to five years from now, warehouses will be more agile, dynamic and smart. With less fixed infrastructure and processes, these will work on AI and real-time analytics for management of warehouse operations. They will be intelligent enough to anticipate, understand and adapt to the external ecosystem around them (seasonal peaks, weather conditions, etc). IoT will enable inter-warehouse communication to devise cost-effective ways for quicker deliveries and minimise operational inefficiencies.
As the Goods and Services Tax (GST) subsumes a range of central and state taxes to turn India into a single market, it removes all variations in local taxation rates that once forced businesses to operate multiple warehouses across states. The maximum impact of the implementation of GST will be on the supply chain, as this will enable companies to optimise their supply chain networks based on scientific principals and logic, instead of disparate tax structures across the country which has been the case so far.
This implies the emergence of larger state-of-the-art warehouses in one location as a result of the consolidation of many smaller warehouses spread across various states. Larger facilities would mean millions of packets to be dispatched every day. This is where GreyOrange’s technology plays a crucial role—to automate the warehouses in order to make them more efficient and accurate. Our products will offer a clear cost benefit in terms of leaner inventory, eliminating the need to duplicate, or triplicate and reduce the inventory on stock.