Expert view

Key questions about robotics the consumer goods industry: Q&A with GlobalData thematic analyst

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Charlotte Newman is a Senior Analyst with GlobalData’s Thematic Research Team. Since joining the team, Charlotte has written on important technologies such as artificial intelligence, Robotics, and Internet of Things.

Lara Virrey: What are the most exciting developments in robotics for the consumer goods industry today?

Charlotte Newman: The most exciting development would have to be that robots have more applications than ever before in the consumer industry. Robots are becoming more visible to consumers. They are no longer just part of backend processes for consumer goods companies. More people are buying consumer drones and assistance robots to manage household tasks and meet social needs.

Lara Virrey: What are the key challenges in the consumer goods that robotics can help with?  

Charlotte Newman: Robotics are a fundamental part of automation and can now perform more complex tasks. This means that they can help solve the challenge of labour shortages, and make manufacturing, delivery processes and logistics more efficient. 

Smart robots are also enabled by technology which has made significant strides over the past few years, namely AI. They can offer efficiency and visibility across the supply chain, which help consumer goods companies navigate volatility such as economic downturns and supply chain disruption.

Lara Virrey: Which barriers to implementation of robotic technologies remain in the consumer goods industry, and how could they be overcome?

Charlotte Newman: The key barrier to consumer goods companies implementing robotics is a lack of understanding or vision. Most consumer companies consider robots to be a costly investment with not enough return. As a result, many companies don’t look beyond the palletizing process when incorporating robotics into their business practice.

Lara Virrey: Which companies are the leading adopters of robotic technologies in the consumer goods sector?

Charlotte Newman: The leading consumer goods companies in robotics are AB InBev, Amazon, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Walmart. These are companies that have adopted robots across the value chain.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.      

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.