Robots are the stuff of science fiction and futuristic novels. From Rosie from The Jetsons to the Cybermen of Doctor Who and the human-like servants in I, Robot, we’ve long wondered about the eventual arrival of robots in daily life.
But robotics has come a long way since they were first imagined. While servants are a few years away, robots perform a wide range of functions in warehouses.
Robotics in a warehouse uses automated systems, specialized software, and mechanical transport commonly called “robots” to streamline and automate the processes in a warehouse. Their functions include transporting various materials and perform other regular tasks previously performed by humans.
Robots bring speed and efficiency to warehouse operations and improve work efficiency for employees. Some robots are built for complete autonomy without human interaction, and others are built to work alongside humans. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) help today’s warehouse robots function on their own, making decisions based on feedback from their environment.
Is it time for your warehouse to begin hiring robotic employees?
Advantages Of Robots In A Warehouse
Robots primarily work alongside human employees, taking care of rote work that takes a human longer to do. Some robots can perform tasks that are difficult for humans to cover, such as lifting and moving heavier items.
Some of the advantages include:
- Inventory management: improved accuracy and reduction of human error in picking, sorting, handling, and replenishment of products
- Automating tasks: menial manual tasks can be delegated to robots and free up warehouse workers to concentrate on more complex tasks that require them to use critical thinking and/or fine motor skills.
- Handle difficult tasks such as retrieving items from high elevations, handling heavier items, and other time-consuming tasks that take up an employees’ time. This can reduce stress for workers and lead to a happier work environment.
- Increased safety and efficiency
- Palletizing and un-palletizing faster and safer than human employees.
Although many companies believe that robots will reduce or eliminate jobs for employees, Amazon has actually seen the opposite. Since its deployment of warehouse robotics in 2012, Amazon has actually added 300,000 jobs worldwide, including IT jobs as well as jobs for maintenance and service of the robots. The robots work side-by-side with employees, increasing efficiency, and allowing more products to be shipped faster.
The Reality Of Warehouse Robots
While deploying robotics in your warehouse is generally positive, there are some things to consider before you make the jump into the future.
- There is a considerable financial investment involved. The initial investment into a warehouse robotics system is substantial, and long-term maintenance and service can also be expensive. Additionally, a company will need to keep “robot repair” employees on staff to ensure the continuous operation of the system.
- Robots only do what they’re told. They’re a lot of things, but robots only follow their programming. Employees still hold the advantage of critical thinking and intelligence to develop solutions to problems. Robots will still need their human coworkers to make decisions as needed.
Robots can be a great asset to warehouse operations. Understanding what they do and can’t do is key to making robotic implementation a successful investment in time and money.
Let 3PL Help With Your Warehouse
3PL Worldwide offers your company logistical services as well as services such as call center for customer service, bicoastal warehouse space in Southern California, and Connecticut, as well as freight transport to and from nearly anywhere. Located in Southern California, we’re ready to help. Contact us today at (888) 456-1920 or use our online contact form to get started outsourcing your supply chain.