The world around us is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Even more so for the technological part of it. Technology is affecting almost every area of our lives. In this article, we would like to take a deeper dive into how technology became a game-changer in the domain of logistics, and in particular, how robotics has changed and continues to impact warehouse operations.
Robots in warehouses
Robots in warehouses and supply chains are increasingly used to speed up order picking and help ease working conditions. But as with any other innovation, there is a flip side to it. Let’s have a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of using robots in warehouses.
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The main advantages of using robots in warehouses
Since the 1961 invention of the first industrial robot, followed by the creation of the first robotic arm in 1973, businesses have gradually integrated different robots into their operations. Economically, the robots are purpose-built to boost process safety and productivity. It is estimated that where the human performs 100 picking operations per hour, robots can increase this figure to 300 or 500, depending on the model. The benefits are also numerous in terms of improving safety and working conditions. Here is the list of how your warehouse can benefit from having robots onsite:
- Improved performance. By using robotic technologies, warehouses can improve their productivity without affecting quality. Warehouse operators will be able to handle much larger volumes of goods per day. Robots can increase accuracy and accelerate repetitive processes when used side-by-side with human employees.
- Improved working conditions. Warehouse workers can rely on machines to handle heavy loads. This advantage reduces the risk of serious accidents that can affect the worker’s health and safety.
- Reduction in the number of errors. Using robots reduces the risk of mistakes in routine operations performed in a warehouse, partly owing to a clear improvement in the transmission of information within the warehouse.
- Cutting staff costs. Using robots in a warehouse optimises the need for a human workforce. It also significantly reduces the number of paid sick leaves, for example, or work-related accidents that represent significant costs for employers. In addition, robots offer more flexibility because they can run continuously and only stop for maintenance needs.
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The main disadvantages of using robots in warehouses
- Fewer jobs for workers: Robots won’t boost warehouse employment rates. Actually, they’ll do the opposite. Workers can be replaced, especially as technology improves and robots can take on more and more tasks.
- High monetary investment. Buying a robot will probably be more cost-consuming in the short-term than hiring workers or using other equipment such as forklifts.
- Considerable maintenance costs. Installation and long-term maintenance of machinery and software require quite a lot of resources in terms of cost and expenditures. That’s why many of the employers and business owners analyse and think carefully prior to investing in the resources needed to robotise even small-scale workflow processes.
- Less flexibility and ingenuity. Sometimes, warehouse operations require some flexibility and critical thinking and that’s where the human person can outperform the robots so far. Robots are often very limited in terms of their scope of use and cannot always respond appropriately to changing circumstances or unpredicted situations.
Is it worth using more and more robots in warehouses?
We at the Eurosender, an innovative logistics platform, realise that robotisation opens up great opportunities for such business like ours to respond to the current and future challenges posed by logistics. Robotics offers, from an operational point of view, effective answers to the issues of productivity and security. This is a real chance for companies to reinvent their organisation and their business model. These companies will not only automate the existing but will build new operating patterns adapted to robots. At the same time, we fully understand that we must not forget that automation and robotisation should have its limits and that robots and machines can only be most effective when they work harmoniously and side-by-side with people. Should you have any questions or issues related to logistics world, we are always ready to assist you. Feel free to contact us!
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