The Future is Now: A Comprehensive Guide to Warehouse Automation
The economy is growing stronger, with more American jobs being added every month.
However, warehouses across the country are struggling to find labor, which is impacting efficiency. Amid this complex economic reality, an exciting solution is emerging that promises to revolutionize the way we look at warehouse operations. Welcome to the world of robotics and automation in the warehouse.
It can be scary, we understand that. How can a machine take my job? This common fear among hardworking American laborers isn’t unfounded, it’s just misunderstood. We believe in warehouse automation because it improves the lives and jobs of everyone involved in warehouse operations – from the laborers to the foreman to the company owner.
Did you realize that the following are just a few of the ways your company might benefit from warehouse automation?
- Improve order accuracy
- Accurate inventory updates
- Become more efficient
- Employees can perform value added tasks
- Close the labor shortage gap
Automation is still in its infancy, so there is much to learn and understand about the automation process. We have compiled this guide to walk you through all aspects of robotics and automation as it relates to your employees, your warehouse and your business.
The Tipping Point for Warehouse Labor
The Current State of the Workforce & Where it’s Going
Automation does not replace workers, it simply liberates workers to perform more value added tasks while forming a synergy between the human and robot, as they accomplish given duties side by side.
According to OPEX, the unemployment rate in the warehouse industry is -16%
That’s correct, negative 16%, meaning that there are significantly more jobs than there are workers, or even applicants. This is an area an AGV could pitch in.
It’s not just a labor shortage, those working in warehouses are stretched too thin, increasing the rates of turnover and effectiveness.
The national average for job turnover is 42%, but in a warehouse setting that number jumps up to 64%.
With Automation and robotic platforms completing tasks with minimal human labor, you can effectively mitigate any risk for injury, and improve safety protocol, which in return will optimize the integrity of the process.
Applying automation and robotics to repetitive tasks effectively allows workers to transition to other value added tasks. Automating these tasks are where we’re seeing more and more robots implemented, improving efficiency and quality.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
All of this can’t be cost-efficient, right? Well, not quite, according to PayScale.
The average cost of a human employee, per month, is over $5,000. On the flipside, a robot will cost you an average of just $2,000 per month, saving you $36,000 annually per employee.
Warehouse Automation 101: An Introduction to Automation in Warehouses Nationwide
An Introduction to Automation in Warehouses Nationwide
We pride ourselves on approaching each operation with an agnostic outlook, which in return allows us to clearly provide the customer with the RIGHT solution, as each process has a high degree of variance.
The standard, normal human interacting and completing a labor process in a warehouse, such as picking a product or filling an order.
an autonomous vehicle or robot completing a task without any human interaction from A to Z. We classify this as full autonomy.
when a robot and a human work cooperatively to complete a process.
when multiple, different robots on different platforms and a human work together to complete tasks. This is unique in that you are using two robots on two differing technical platforms i.e. different software, but still able to engage with each other.
Where We Can Impact Your Process
Types of Robots that Make Automation Possible
How does Automation apply to me? In running your business you understand the burden of labor costs, and are constantly looking to improve efficiency and increase revenue stream. Automation will alleviate most previous pain points, and allow for a lost cost, high impact operation.
Here are just a handful of the many areas that automation may work in and benefit your warehouse operations:
- pallet handling and pallet transportation
- automated storage and retrieval systems
- packaging, stretch wrapping, etc.
- conveyor systems to assist manufacturing
- mobile machinery to execute tasks (forklifts, pallet jacks, robotic haulers, etc.)
- inventory automation
- barcode scanning
- workplace safety
In discussing kinds of robotics solutions, automation is described by the processes the individual robots are capable of performing. Today, we have robots that perform these most common warehouse jobs:
- pallet movers
- pallet builders
- floor cleaners
- barcode scanners
- inventory data
- back-office functions
At NITCO, we currently work with four robotics companies who manufacture and develop AGVs for all of these functions. Each specializes in different types of robots, but all work to improve warehouse functionality and autonomy.
A robotics company based out of Massachusetts, Balyo Robotics manufactures robots that aid in materials handling. Tasks like pallet moving, transport of large products, and even storage solutions can be automated with a Balyo robot.
Another Bay State robotics brand, Locus has developed a multi-bot picking system that significantly improves e-commerce fulfillment productivity, helping workers pick faster and more accurately.
They dub their robots “collaborative robots,” but Universal has developed a series of robotic arms that assist in a variety of tasks one would find in a warehouse. The robots can fully mimic the movement of a human arm, making them a perfect solution for picking, placing, or testing automation.
MINUTEMAN MAX RIDE 20 ROBOSCRUBBER:
The Max Ride 20 RoboScrubber powered by BrainOS® represents the next generation of robotic floor care. Brain’s advanced vision-based A.I. system enables the robot to navigate complex, real-world environments. The machine is designed to work safely and efficiently alongside employees and can still be used manually for ad-hoc situations.
Fetch Robotics is taking material handling to the next level with its “On Demand” philosophy by using AMR’s to handle the heavy loads. The Fetch Cloud Robotic platform allows customers to scale and control all operations with the click of a button. With no infrastructure changes required, the Fetch platform allows end users to control material flow, mitigate employee risk for injury, and increase the efficiency of their operation.
Make Way for Robots
“Delivering Tomorrow’s Promise…Today”
Our promise to you is to deliver the appropriate product to the right application to ultimately deliver dramatic savings in the three critical components of Labor, Energy, and Space. We feel that we have aligned ourselves with cutting edge partners that are proven and tested. Our strategic partnerships effectively allow us to impact your operations in a variety of capacities. We appreciate your continued interest and support of NITCO Automation and look forward to earning your business.
The Undeniable Upside
Why Automation is the Way of the Future
We have already outlined the many areas of warehouse functionality that can and will benefit from warehouse automation. They are:
- Workplace safety
- Cost savings
- Efficiency improvements
- Customized solutions
But, did you know there are also ways companies can take the automation process one step further, making work an incentivized process that employees can enjoy. We believe in the “gamifaction” of the warehouse which will turn the interaction of robots and humans in the warehouse into a collaborative game. Our overall goal is to make the warehouse and work environment a safe and welcoming space that intersects human labor with automation. With automated robots, the future of warehouse operations is closer than you think.
Contact us today for friendly, straightforward advice that is customized to your specific needs.
The Future is Now: A Comprehensive Guide to Warehouse Automation
In this free eBook, we’ll walk you through the process of automating your warehouse from start to finish so you can feel confident in your knowledge about automation.Download