Technology is constantly evolving, so it is no surprise that machinery is becoming more self-reliant and able to do more than it had before. It should also be no surprise that the use of robots in various industries is on the rise. For decades, robots have been used in manufacturing. Just think of a car assembly line, which uses various robotic arms to make the process more efficient. Such advancements began to be integrated in other aspects of the manufacturing process until the presence of robotics in the industry was commonplace. As companies saw how useful robots and automation were in operations, the machinery and technology are now being used in other aspects of business. One such place where they are becoming more common is in the warehouse, and it is helping operations immensely.
The term “warehouse robotics” refers to the automated machines and systems used to improve and streamline warehouse operations. When hearing this, people often immediately fear that humans are being replaced by robots and machines, but this is not quite the case. Over time, companies have found that there are certain tasks that are so repetitive or menial that they are not a good use of employee time and effort. Now, robots and machinery are helping automate these basic tasks to allow human employees to focus on more complicated, creative, or hands-on tasks that have more of an impact on the growth and development of the company as a whole.
When integrating robotics into routine operations, warehouses are quickly seeing the benefits. Efficiency is up because these machines are able to run continuously without needing breaks. Similarly, accuracy in operations has improved because it has removed the likelihood of human error. As these machines are precisely programmed, their repeated movements and behaviors likely mean that there will be little need for any corrections. In customer fulfillment warehouses, the chances of an order being fulfilled wrong is greatly decreased because the machines and robots are programmed to select items specifically based on formulas. The rise of warehouse robotics is also beneficial to cutting operational costs.
By removing the need to hire a larger number of employees for positions handling more basic tasks, which often have high turnover rates to begin with, companies are able to invest in hiring the right and most skilled employees for the positions that do require a person to fill them. Even more logistical concerns are appeased. Often, fixed machinery can help streamline space in a warehouse. Sometimes, running costs can even decrease, especially as programmed equipment do not need common amenities like lighting to operate successfully. Warehouse safety is also drastically improved by the use of robotics. Often, employees are injured while doing strenuous or repetitive tasks that lead to natural wear-and-tear of the human body. By having machines handle these repetitive physical tasks, it limits the chance of an employee being injured doing such tasks, which can have a negative impact on operations for a number of reasons.
So why is warehouse robotics on the rise right now? Since new advancements in technology are always being made, there are more things that robots and machines can successfully do with simple programming. Sensors and response capability are improving, making the equipment more reliable. Artificial intelligence has also come a long way, and these machines can be taught a lot more to streamline operations. However, consumer demand is also up. Brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to keep up with the variety and ease that online shopping has to offer, and robots and machines are able to handle the monotonous and repetitive aspects of warehouse operations that come with rising demand. The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic caused many stores to physically shut down and limited people’s mobility, which meant that they had no other choice but to turn to online shopping. Warehouse robotics played an important part of being able to fulfill these orders without fear of spreading the virus amongst employees working in close contact with one another, which could have caused a full shutdown and had long-lasting and far-reaching negative effects.
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