Is Warehouse Robotics Ready to Replace Humans?

The human workforce is not about to lose its place to robots any time soon, although robotics have certainly made some great strides in recent years.

It’s understandable that people would be worried. After all, robots don’t need sick time and aren’t prone to negative attitudes. In addition, they can go a long way toward solving the shortage of labor that is predicted for Europe and the U.S. in the coming years.

Supply chain operators around the planet are expected to spend $22.1 billion on robots in 2021, a marked rise from the $1.9 billion spent in 2016. That’s because many businesses are starting to view robotics as a great solution to many of their challenges. Whether it’s filling orders faster or improving accuracy, robots are up to the task.

When the first automated guided vehicles started showing up in warehouses in the early 1950s, their abilities were limited to following wired pathways along aisles to help with picking. Modern variants, however, are far more efficient and intelligent, navigating dynamically with on-board maps and making their way around obstacles like people and equipment with ease.

Human Workers Still Essential

Robotic vehicles can be used to bring items to workers in pick locations for filling orders, keeping pick accuracy up and worker travel time down. These robots are not foolproof when it comes to automated picking and packing, but that milestone appears to be on the verge of being reached.

Nevertheless, most human workers won’t be getting their walking papers because of a robot any time soon. For now, robots still need to be configured and set up, and there are plenty of tasks that they are simply not prepared to take over from humans and likely won’t be any time soon. Warehouse management systems can go a long way toward managing automated equipment, but most warehouses cannot make dramatic workforce cuts just yet.

This blog post was based off of an article from Supply & Demand Chain Executive. View the original here.

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