We live in an age where automation is advancing across nearly every industry. Self-driving trucks are being tested on our highways, drones are delivering packages, kitchen robots can whip up your favorite dish and robotic surgeons are performing complex surgeries. Along with these innovations come mounting fears over the future of the workforce. Some experts have predicted widespread unemployment in the coming years, with human workers being replaced by robotic counterparts and once-vital careers becoming obsolete.
Automation, however, can have quite the opposite effect on industries experiencing major labor shortages. Technology can fill existing gaps in the workforce by taking over repetitive, strenuous or dangerous tasksultimately creating safer, more productive work environments for employees and driving the emergence of new, tech-driven job roles. In short, automation is not eliminating jobs; its improving them.
This is particularly true in the warehousing industry where available labor is scarce. Many of todays facilities are struggling to retain staff as aging baby boomers retire in droves and young jobseekers show declining interest in material handling careers. In the 2019 MHI Annual Industry Report, 65 percent of survey respondents cited hiring qualified workers as extremely or very challenging, while an overwhelming 91 percent ranked it as at least somewhat challenging.
Warehouse staffing shortages are further compounded by operational challenges surrounding e-commerce demands, SKU proliferation and seasonal order peaks. Altogether, these issues are particularly taxing on manual warehouses where all orders are picked, packed and shipped by hand. Existing staff need to work harder and faster, sometimes taking on extra hours and overnight shifts, just to keeps orders flowing out the door on time.
In a field where on-the-job danger is a daily reality, added strain on manual warehouse workers raises the risk of injury even higher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.1 out of every 100 warehouse and storage workers experience injuries or work-related illnesses each year, and many of these cases result in days away from work, job restrictions or transfers.
For manual order pickers, the most common safety risk is injury to muscles, joints, tendons and nerves, caused by repetitive, strenuous motions (twisting, bending, reaching, heavy lifting, etc.). Injuries can range from minor sprains, strains and pulled muscles to chronic conditions like repetitive stress injuries, repetitive motion injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, cumulative trauma disorders and cumulative trauma injuries.
Considering these safety risks, its no wonder that facilities have difficulty recruiting new workers to fill vacant positions.
Warehouse managers can protect their employees to an extent through preventative measures like proper ergonomics training and adherence to health and safety regulations outlined by OSHA. While better education and regulatory compliance minimize some risk, facilities can invest in automation to drastically improve ergonomic conditions, alleviate labor issues and enhance overall productivity.
Robotic hardware controlled by advanced software can take over the many demanding tasks of order fulfillment. From conveyers and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RSs) and order picking systems, these systems run with utmost efficiency, fulfill orders with complete accuracy, and use significantly less space than a traditional, manual layout. Facilities can thereby keep up with increased fulfillment demands without putting humans at risk.
An automated layer picking solution, for example, combines gantry robots, a picking tool, and sophisticated software to pick goods in layered quantities from products stacked on the warehouse floor. The system can pick up one layer, multiple layers to create rainbow pallets, or entire pallet loadscompletely eliminating manual labor from picking and pallet building. And due to its speed and flexibility, the system enables warehouses to easily keep up with the flood of orders during peak periods.
Further, a goods-to-man picking solution can automate the movement of goods stored in totes, bins or trays. An AS/RS, shuttle device and high-speed conveyor system work together to transport goods directly to workers at ergonomic picking stations where they can rapidly pick the required items for an order. This type of system can be up to six times more efficient than a manual operation, and its speed makes it an ideal solution for e-commerce fulfillment.
With automation running 24/7, existing staff no longer have to risk injury by performing repetitive, physical labor or overexert themselves working overtime hours and overnight shifts.
Instead, tasks for employees are elevated into more sophisticated roles ranging from supervising automated operations and equipment maintenance to analyzing performance data and managing products with special handling requirements. Ultimately, the need for this kind of expertise will create new, tech-drivenand safewarehouse positions that will attract a whole new generation of tech-savvy jobseekers.
Martins Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc. in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania previously used a completely manual process for fulfilling orders of its popular bread, rolls and baked goods. All products were picked by hand, so warehouse staff had to plan and prep orders hours in advance of dispatch. This process involved safety risks for staff who had to manually move products around the warehouse, and resulted in inefficiencies as order spiked during the busy summer season. Today, Martins Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc. has a fully automated order fulfillment process from storage to palletizing and loading. The facility can now schedule and prepare orders within just one hour of a trucks arrival and is fully equipped to keep up during seasonal peakswithout compromising employee safety.
Todays warehouses and distribution centers can leverage new technologies made possible by the dawn of the fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. By embracing automation, they can transition into more modern facilities where humans, robotics and intelligent software collaborate to cultivate a greater culture of safety and productivity. With numerous automated systems available today, look to a systems provider that can analyze your current operations and identify the best fit for your facility. The right solution will help you safely overcome the challenges of today and easily meet the demands of tomorrow.
As Distribution Systems Sales Manager, Derek Rickard works closely with Cimcorps global customers to develop robotic order fulfillment systems designed to meet their warehousing needs. With over 20 years of supply chain experience, Rickard has worked on many of the first fully automated robotic picking systems in North America, with some of the largest ones exceeding 1 million cases per week.
- The Army turns to automation for officer assignments - Defense Systems - February 12th, 2020
- AI And Automation: Together Forever? - Forbes - February 12th, 2020
- Viewpoint: How Automation is Digitally Transforming the Insurance Industry - Claims Journal - February 12th, 2020
- Ponemon Institute Report Finds Security Automation Continues to Reshape Hiring Trends Year-by-year - Chinook Observer - February 12th, 2020
- Automation Is Probably Coming for Your Job Too - GQ - February 12th, 2020
- Survey: Firms trend towards automation - Bangkok Post - February 12th, 2020
- AI, automation, and the cybersecurity skills gap - VentureBeat - February 12th, 2020
- SaltStack Infrastructure Automation Now Integrated with Tenable.io for Closed-Loop Vulnerability Remediation - The Herald Journal - February 12th, 2020
- 2020 State of Branding Report Reveals Marketers Divided Over Automation's Role in Branding - Supply and Demand Chain Executive - February 12th, 2020
- TD Bank: Automation and mobile apps inevitable for the restaurant industry - Tech Wire Asia - February 12th, 2020
- Demand for Fast Deployment and Ease-of-Use Drives AP Automation to the Cloud - CPAPracticeAdvisor.com - February 12th, 2020
- Feb. 20: CLC to host author John Wasik for automation talk - Patch.com - February 12th, 2020
- WorkFusion Named No. 1 for Intelligence and Overall Innovation in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by HFS Research - Yahoo Finance - February 12th, 2020
- CAN in Automation at Embedded World 2020 - Embedded Computing Design - February 12th, 2020
- Making the Most of AI and Automation: Steps to success - Gigabit Magazine - Technology News, Magazine and Website - February 12th, 2020
- Industrial automation technology trends 2020 - Verdict - February 12th, 2020
- Dassault Systmes announces expanded 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS offerings - Automation.com - February 12th, 2020
- HANNOVER MESSE 2020 to focus on 5G, industrial climate protection - Automation.com - February 12th, 2020
- Global Process Automation Market: 2020 Global Trend and 2025 Forecast Research Report on Demands, Business Analysis - Instant Tech News - February 12th, 2020
- Robotic Process Automation Software Market Latest Trends , Size, Share, Types, Technical Applications, In-depth Industry Analysis and Competitive... - February 12th, 2020
- Workstream, A Staffing Automation Startup, Helps Small Businesses Hire Hourly Workers - Forbes - February 12th, 2020
- Automation Puts Reply Guys Out of Work in Fake Social Media App Botnet - VICE - February 12th, 2020
- Industrial Automation Market Boosting the Manufacturing Industry Worldwide - Robotics Tomorrow - February 12th, 2020
- Epiroc and ASI Mining to automate Roy Hill haul truck fleet - International Mining - February 12th, 2020
- Automation Solutions Market in the Oil and Gas Industry 2020-2024 | Rise in the Global Demand for Oil and Gas to Boost Growth | Technavio - Business... - February 12th, 2020
- Automated oil and gas well control - Engineer Live - February 12th, 2020
- 32% of jobs in 'red wall' seats at risk of automation by early 2030s - LabourList - February 12th, 2020
- Picking the Right Automation Tool for the Job - No Jitter - February 7th, 2020
- Have robots grounded the flying geese? Automation and offshoring in the manufacturing sector - Brookings Institution - February 7th, 2020
- How to get started with automation: A Red Hat exec offers advice - TechRepublic - February 7th, 2020
- Tenjin is releasing a new set of automation APIs and making it free - Pocket Gamer.Biz - February 7th, 2020
- Frost Radar in the Industrial Automation Market - Yahoo Finance - February 7th, 2020
- Intellecta AI-Driven And Multichannel Analytics From OnviSource Delivers Automation For Workforce Optimization, CX Management And Content Management -... - February 7th, 2020
- The Challenge of Automation in Strawberries - AG INFORMATION NETWORK OF THE WEST - AGInfo Ag Information Network Of The West - February 7th, 2020
- Automation as a Service Market by Component, Business Function, Enterprise Size, and Industry Vertical: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry... - February 7th, 2020
- Robotic Process Automation Market Procurement Intelligence Report | Evolving Opportunities with Blue Prism and UiPath in the Robotic Process... - February 7th, 2020
- Intelligent Automation Will Boost India's Economy to US 5 Trillion By 2024-25 - THE WEEK - February 7th, 2020
- The Age of Automation is coming to a MLB strike zone near you - Motor City Bengals - February 7th, 2020
- Benefits and challenges of automated processes for wildlife trade in poor countries - Trade for Development News - February 7th, 2020
- How automated workflows increase the capacity and scale of a - SelectScience - February 7th, 2020
- Savesor Presents a KNX Hotel Automation Kit and Innovative Bundle for Airbnb Hosts at ISE 2020 - KNXtoday - February 7th, 2020
- Watch how to program automation in Ableton Live 10 - MusicTech - February 7th, 2020
- Perfecto by Perforce Releases 2020 State of Test Automation Report - Yahoo Finance - February 7th, 2020
- Zapier now connects 2,000+ apps--more than any other automation tool - Yahoo Finance - February 7th, 2020
- Iris Automation Announces First Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) Drone Waiver In South Africa - PRNewswire - February 7th, 2020
- Vineland names new head of automation - Greenhouse Canada - February 7th, 2020
- Automation Anywhere Backing Arrow McLaren SP - SPEED SPORT - February 7th, 2020
- CRM's 'Automated Virtual Agents': Coming Soon to an Office Near You - Toolbox - February 7th, 2020
- Even With Industry 4.0, Sometimes The Best Level Of Automation Is None - Forbes - January 5th, 2020
- What we can do to make sure automation doesn't negatively affect the work force - TNW - January 5th, 2020
- Automation and Public Policy - State of the Planet - January 5th, 2020
- In 2020, AI to enable acceleration from automation to autonomy, say experts - Robot Report - January 5th, 2020
- Improving Your Manufacturing Productivity and Quality with CMM Networking and Automation - Quality Magazine - January 5th, 2020
- Listen to top VCs discuss the next generation of automation startups at TC Sessions: Robotics+AI - TechCrunch - January 5th, 2020
- How the most vulnerable workers to job automation can adapt - Yahoo Money - January 5th, 2020
- DevOps The Troubles Of Automating All The Things - JAXenter - January 5th, 2020
- The unsettling grip of the automated gods | News, Sports, Jobs - Williamsport Sun-Gazette - January 5th, 2020
- Automation and AI will launch a golden age of marketing - The Drum - January 5th, 2020
- Hashtag Trending Automation predictions for 2020 - ITBusiness.ca - January 5th, 2020
- Stories that will define the next decade: Automation will likely cause changes to the ports of LA, Long Beach - The Daily Breeze - January 5th, 2020
- True automation, a bigger streaming revolution: Tech that will take over our lives this year - Economic Times - January 5th, 2020
- Robotic Process Automation Market Size, Outlook on Key Growth Trends, Factors and Forecast to 2026 - ReportsPioneer - January 5th, 2020
- Home Automation Is Taking Control On The Upper Cape - CapeNews.net - January 5th, 2020
- Despite Chaotic Year, Automation, AI Offer Benefits to Indian IT Industry - Analytics Insight - January 5th, 2020
- How AI may be the key to future-proofing jobs at risk of being automated - Employee Benefit News - January 5th, 2020
- The End of the Road for Spreadsheets? - Automation World - January 5th, 2020
- What is Automation | IBM - December 31st, 2019
- Automation benefits and costs - Economics Help - December 31st, 2019
- Save 15% on Automation - The Car Company Tycoon Game on Steam - December 31st, 2019
- Pricing - Automation | Microsoft Azure - December 31st, 2019
- Automation | Definition of Automation at Dictionary.com - December 31st, 2019
- What is Automation?- ISA - December 31st, 2019
- Using robotic process automation to manage revenue cycles - Healthcare IT News - December 31st, 2019
- Guest Post: Why 2020 Will be Better Than 2019 in Automation - Robotics Business Review - December 31st, 2019
- 5 Robotic Process Automation Trends To Look For In 2020 - Inc42 Media - December 31st, 2019
- Vanguard: automation is great until it doesn't work - FX Week - December 31st, 2019
- Crestview Weighed IPO of JR Automation Before Clinching $1.4 Billion Sale - Barron's - December 31st, 2019
- What Jobs Will be Lost to Automation? - San Diego Entertainer Magazine - December 31st, 2019
- Energy Asset Performance Management to Take on Automation - IoT World Today - December 31st, 2019
- How to get started with HomeKit home automation - Cult of Mac - December 31st, 2019