Submitted on Wed, 2015-06-17
By irms|WM Warehouse Management

“The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT” - Gartner

The Robots are Coming. Is Your Warehouse Ready?

We recently wrote a post about the top supply chain trends that emerged from the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in May. As part two of our Supply Chain Industry Trends blog series, this post will focus on the imminent impact of robotics on the supply chain. The robots are coming. What do you need to know?

Gartner recently released its 2015 Supply Chain Top 25, an award that highlights the best practices of supply chain leaders and gave Amazon the top spot. The rapid growth of e-commerce (and subsequent fulfillment needs) has changed the landscape of warehouse management. Amazon has revolutionized warehouse efficiency with its mass adoption of robotics through its acquisition of Kiva Robots. They have set the new standard in warehouse efficiency by reducing labor requirements and increasing speed, accuracy, and overall productivity.
 

The Robots are Coming

According to the Wall Street Journal, one-third of jobs will be lost to automation within a decade and within two decades, nearly half of the current jobs will be performed by machine technology. Despite this prediction, the current trend demonstrates that robots will work alongside humans. According to MHI, robots will enhance the workplace by taking people out of hazardous environments and eliminating the risk of injury. Robots will not only be streamlining the process and facilities of the supply chain, they’ll be working right alongside their human co-workers (and keep right on going when everyone else heads home for dinner).

Amazon supports this prediction as it continues to build new facilities, generating new jobs. In May, Amazon unveiled plans to construct a one-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Carteret, N.J. and hire hundreds of full-time workers to meet burgeoning customer demand.
 

How Will Robots Change the Supply Chain Industry?

The need for warehouse labor is growing astronomically. Since the year 2000, the number of warehouse jobs has increased from 100,000 to over 700,000. According to Supply Chain Management Review, labor management is the greatest challenge of today’s supply chain because as manufacturing increases demand on logistics, it simultaneously reduces the availability of labor. Organizations must develop an automation strategy to survive in this new era.

The mass adoption of robotics into the supply chain presents a challenging risk and reward dilemma. Companies willing to take an early chance on this opportunity must implement and integrate this new technology successfully to reap a treasure-trove of financial and market share benefits.

Robots do not fully operate on their own, so the need for seamless integration with a warehouse management system and other supply chain technologies is imperative. The advanced technology of cloud platforms allows for seamless integration between multiple enterprise-level systems allowing organizations to maximize their technology investments while creating the most efficient, automated supply chain possible. 

 

Blog Type: 
IRMS WM Blog
Innovative Technology Solutions