by Elton Gomes
Two Indian engineering students founded GreyOrange to take their robotic obsession to the next level. Now, seven years later, GreyOrange is all set to disrupt the biggest names in business, as it plans to take on Kiva Systems, a pioneer in warehouse automation that was acquired by Amazon in 2012.
Akash Gupta and Samay Kohli founded GreyOrange in 2011, and the company currently has two major robots – Butler and Sorter. Butler lifts heavy shelves and moves them around warehouses. Sorter is a conveyor belt that sorts and arranges parcels by weight, size, and delivery location. Currently, there are at least 1,000 of these robots operating around 50 sites throughout the world.
After creating a strong presence in markets like India, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Germany, GreyOrange is looking to deploy almost 20,000 more robots in the US alone.
By focusing on bringing robots into warehouses, GreyOrange has laid emphasis on automation. Automation has only begun making in-roads into warehouses in India, and it seems that India still has a long way ahead before it makes a seamless transition to automation.
How far is India from being an automation nation?
According to the 2017 World Robot Statistics report released by the non-profit International Federation of Robotics (IFR), India fares poorly in its robot to workers ratio. As per the report, India only has three robots per 10,000 employees. South Korea dominated the list with 631 robots per 10,000 workers.
“Robot density is an excellent standard for comparison in order to take into account the differences in the automation degree of the manufacturing industry in various countries,” IFR president Junji Tsuda said in a press release.
Although India severely lags behind the rest of the world, it seems to be improving its automation quotient. According to a report, robot installations increased by 27 percent – from 2,065 units in 2015 to 2,625 units in 2016. The IFR has predicted that by 2020, India could have a total of 6,000 industrial robots.
A 2015 report in Robotics Business Review said that India’s prospects in automation were looking up. The report said that there was a considerable amount of money being invested in the country. Citing an article from Business Insider, the report said, “In the last five years, there were more than 70 VC investments worth over $2 billion in the domestic startup ecosystem. In last three years, there were over 20 merger and acquisition deals worth $1 billion.”
Changing the face of labour in India
Tech experts in India seemed to have understood that automation is here to stay and sooner or later India will have to be prepared for it. “Automation is a reality now. There is no point resisting automation at the workplace. You as a company and as employees have to save your tomorrow and prepare for day-after tomorrow,” Chocko Valliappa, chief executive of tech firm Vee Technologies Pvt. Ltd, told Live Mint.
Valliappa then said that automation will render repetitive jobs redundant and that he was working with his team to develop technologies that will help employees improve productivity.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius