We find ourselves in an interesting era of fulfillment. There is the technology available to provide warehouse automation, yet there has never been a greater need for workers. With ecommerce business steadily on the rise, warehouses require more workers to fill orders. And even though the technology exists to provide some distribution center automation, it is not even close to replacing the role of humans in fulfillment.
The Reality of Material Handling Automation
Warehouse automation to some means programmed machines lining the aisles while one or two humans oversee their accuracy. But this is far from the truth. Robots and machines are just fancy computers. They think in formulas and algorithms and they lack the ability to analyze. While automation can be used for picking orders from the shelves, it still requires the brains and critical thinking of a human to perform the packaging process. The orders need to be checked for accuracy and the items need to be packaged in a professional, strategic way, and for now, only humans are capable of paying attention to these details. So, while robots can be used to retrieve specific SKUs, humans need to perform quality assurance, inventory control, and other more demanding tasks.
The Future of Warehouse Automation
Even though distribution center automation is a long way from replacing humans, it does need to remain on everyone’s radar that technology is evolving, and this will eventually be a possibility. As such, there are steps employers can take to make sure everyone remains on the same page:
- Put a plan in place and make your intent clear. Your employees know that the role of humans in fulfillment is changing. So be upfront with them. Let them know what your long-term plan is and look for ways to use your employees in other aspects of the business as your automation use increases.
- Be Proactive with Training. Making the switch from everything being done manually to heavy automation can be a big adjustment. Begin training as soon as the new machinery is on the forefront. Pay employees to learn the new technology and make sure every employee feels confident with the changes. You may even want to put your key employees in a professional development course now, so they will be able to implement the changes quicker.
Distribution center robotics is inevitable—current actions are what can make or break your company. By welcoming the change and preparing your employees for the opportunities ahead, you can make the most of distribution center automation and help your company thrive. To learn more about what material handling automation is available now, contact A-Lined Handling Systems, Inc. today.