Working on a warehouse floor is physically demanding work. It can leave employees worn out, aching, and sometimes needing time off to heal mentally and physically. Warehouse workers are often required to work second or third shifts, holidays, and/or weekends. Recruiting for these positions is one of a company’s biggest challenges.
Robots are one of the solutions to these issues. Traditionally, the labor pool has worried that robots would take over human jobs, but thus far, that has not been the case. A true lights-out, cost-effective, fully functioning automated warehouse operation working 100% of the time is still a ways into the future, if it arrives at all. Robots need humans to think and make higher-level decisions that robots cannot make. Mobile robotics like AGVs (automatic guided vehicles) and AMRs (automated mobile robots) provide real relief to warehouse employees by transporting heavy loads or performing repetitive tasks, which have proven to reduce injuries. These and other benefits have incentivized warehouse workers to stay on the job or join a warehousing operation.
While producing incredible results and delivering efficiencies, today’s robots still need their human partners to carry out tasks on the warehousing floor. Think of robots as an extension of your workforce, allowing workers to do more with less.
Robots can also open access to additional labor pools that might not otherwise be available. A warehouse in Texas, for instance, has built an entire workforce out of military veterans, many of whom have disabilities.
Whether visually impaired or in need of a wheelchair, these veterans can complete tasks on the warehouse floor with the assistance of robots. Without that partnership, these candidates might not have been available or considered for this type of work.
Another benefit to the human/robotic partnership is that it allows your staff the opportunity to learn new skills. Robots are here to stay, so when your employees have the chance to learn how to work with them, they’re adding valuable skills that can help them advance their careers. This opportunity to upskill is a valuable recruiting tool, especially for younger generations who are less inclined to consider manual warehousing work.
Robots working on the warehouse floor also add a layer of safety to the workplace. This is essential because, too often, supervisors focus on human errors on the warehousing floor, when often, the humans are working in a tired, worn-out state. This makes them more likely to make mistakes, sometimes dangerous ones. With robotics, costly, dangerous errors are less likely. This is particularly true when the robots are doing the less complicated, repetitive work that operators might have traditionally carried out. Robots help lighten the workload for warehouse workers so they can focus on the more complex tasks. Equipped with sensors, robotics are built to stop if something is in the way. Employees appreciate this because it helps keep them out of harm’s way—an excellent reason to stick around on the job.
Written By: Kia Schmit and Amel Ali for MHI’s “The Robotics Group” See article here.