Is the supply chain industry ready for the rise of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in the warehouse?
Warehouse automation has already taken off. Given the current state of supply and demand, it is becoming increasingly clear that AMRs are an effective way to operate your warehouse productively and efficiently. The benefits of AMR range from an increase in flexibility, ease of implementation and reduction in human errors.
But, we've all heard "robots are taking away jobs" and other negative comments about AMRs. Before making a judgment call on this technology, let's analyze if these statements are valid. We tend to resist what we don't know, so let's explore three common misconceptions about AMRs in the warehouse.
Truth: Automation does not mean a reduction in jobs. On the contrary, looking at current job needs against the rise of e-commerce, it is easy to see the job market is expected to grow exponentially in the next 10 years. People are only one click away from purchasing, meaning warehouse needs are at a maximum.
In most cases, the need for human workers will not be eclipsed by robots. With humans' ability to think critically, humans solve complex problems, which are often apparent in a fast-paced environment, such as a warehouse. Undoubtedly, a human worker is invaluable next to an automated counterpart.
Automating with robots also allows workers to produce work more efficiently. The key to a successful business is ensuring your product fulfillment is timely and accurate. AMRs can assist with this work, limiting the time it takes for a human to move around the warehouse. With fulfillment going up, companies need to provide workers with ways to increase their efficiency.
Truth: There aren't many AMRs or automation technologies that make your warehouse more chaotic. Automation is made to simplify workflows for employees and track extremely valuable data, enabling managers and executives to make well-researched and thorough decisions. In some cases, due to streamlining workflows, AMRs also assist in keeping employees safe.
Without a need for workers busily running around a warehouse, the health and safety of your fulfillment could increase. Skilled professionals will always be able to function with AMRs because the robots are designed to simplify.
Truth: Automation does not take jobs away from skilled workers, but the technology can make its own workforce of workflow simplifiers. This automated workforce — just like a human one — can be scaled depending on the season, the volume of orders and more.
Businesses can employ more skilled workers and automated mobile robots to assist in productively fulfilling orders. Automation can help you achieve a new level of flexibility. These robots can be programmed and directed in whatever way is needed. For example, has there been a product change? A shift in your operations? AMRs account for this and can shift accordingly.
Using AMRs responsibly starts with understanding your intentions for this technology. Keeping your intention in acquiring one (or many) of these AMRs holistic is key to keeping their use constructive. For example, are you looking into AMRs because you want to bolster your workforce and lower fulfillment times? Are you looking into them because you want to simplify your warehouse's workflow?
Whatever it is, the key is to be intentional.
Warehouse applications of AMRs are vast and include offering increased jobs and simplifying workflows and flexibility. If you’re curious about how automation might enhance productivity in your business, start by identifying your intentions behind incorporating automation in your warehouse.