British online supermarket and technology group Ocado said on Monday (8 July) that it is planning to build a third robotic warehouse in Japan, in an expanded partnership with Japanese retailer AEON.

Ocado opened its first robotic warehouse, or customer fulfillment centre, in 2023 to serve customers in Japan’s Kanto region. 

Ocado is due to open a second customer fulfillment centre in 2026 in Hachioji, while the newly announced third centre will open in 2027 in Kuki-Miyashiro, according to the company. 

As well as a third fulfillment centre, the extended partnership will also provide Aeon fitted with Ocado’s latest technologies. The Japanese retail giant will gain access to Ocado’s ‘On-Grid Robotic Pick’ that the British company said can save up to 99% of manpower.

Robotic Pick is an automated picking solution which picks and packs items from storage bins without prior knowledge of what they contain, Ocado said. 

In 2021, Ocado was forced to cancel thousands of orders after a fire resulting from a robot collision at one of its warehouses. The incident prompted shares in the company to drop 5% in one day.

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According to GlobalData forecasts, the robotics industry was worth $62.7bn in 2022. By 2030, it will have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 17% to $217.6bn. 

Sales of industrial robots reached $20.7bn in 2022 equivalent to 33% of the total robotics market. By 2030, this segment  will be worth $45.1bn, having grown at a CAGR of 10% between 2022 and 2030. 

At $42.1bn in 2022, the service robot market revenue was larger than the industrial robots sector. Over the next decade, it is expected to continue as the larger of the two markets.