Robots Are Key to Winning the Productivity War

For those who believe that the surge of interest in warehouse automation and robotics was just a pandemic fling that will fade as the labor market loosens, meet Malcolm Wilson.

He’s the chief executive officer of GXO Logistics Inc., which operates about 900 warehouses, mostly in the US and Europe for customers including Nike Inc. and Nestle SA. The Greenwich, Connecticut-based company, which cobbles together different types of robots tailored to a client’s needs, signed up a record $475 million of new business in the second quarter and has a pipeline of automated logistics projects that extend into 2024.

Even though GXO is one of the most advanced warehouse operators, the trend of adopting automation is only getting started. About a third of GXO’s warehouses are automated, double the percentage of about five years ago. GXO expects to have 60% to 70% of its warehouses operating mostly with machines in the next five years, he said. The warehousing industry as a whole is only about 5% automated, he said in a phone interview.