Should your warehouse invest in robotics?

Investing in some form of automation or robotics to cut costs and increase production is a more common practice than ever in today's market. But if you are from a well-established industry set in its ways, then you will face a variety of growing pains trying to maintain a competitive edge as you automate business operations with robotics. Let's explore some of the challenges that you will need to overcome in the age of robotics automation. Below, we’ll look at the major pros and cons to really understand how robots help fulfillment centers improve their processes.

3 Advantages of investing in Robotics into your warehouse systems:

Increased productivity while reducing operating expenses

Increasing the accuracy, efficiency, and productivity of workers while minimizing headcount, And since robots don’t need to sleep (except while they’re charging), they can continue to work on manual tasks long after your employees have gone home to get orders fulfilled on time.

Improved picking, packing, and shipping

Robotics also remove human error from picking, packing, and shipping orders with all this data at their disposal, operators ensure timely departure and delivery of order shipments, due to efficiency.

Increased demand for high quality jobs

Robots cut down on the repetitive, low-value work that your human employees generally deal with. This makes it possible for your employees to focus on high-value work that drives profits and keeps your customers happy, like customer support and quality control. Because robots take on a lot of manual work in the fulfillment center, employees can avoid the unnecessary strain of continuous walking and lifting. Not only does this better protect employees from overexertion, but it also gives them the flexibility to work on more meaningful projects that improve your business and advance their careers.

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3 Disadvantages of investing in Robotics into your warehouse systems:

Robotics Cost

Although robotics technology is getting cheaper, it still demands a large investment. Robots typically range in price from $30,000 to $100,000 each, so understanding your needs and the related costs is critical to control your budget.

Other costs to consider include:

  1. Robotic Automation Software
  2. Robotic Automation Consulting
  3. Robotic Automation Service Contracts

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Human Requirements

Even if you adopt a completely autonomous fleet of robots, you’ll still need human capital to control, repair, and supplement their activities. The reason being, robots can’t yet think on the same level as their human counterparts. They still require input and support from your human employees to work optimally.

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New Cybersecurity Challenges

When smart factories increase their connectivity they will also introduce greater cyber-security challenges such as:

  1. Advanced malware threats consistently to extracting sensitive data.
  2. Connected pieces of operational technology (OT) will now be vulnerable to system attacks.
  3. Accidental data loss - Not all cyber-security breaches in the manufacturing industry are a result of malicious attacks. Manufacturers should also consider training their staff on the importance of cyber-security measures to avoid accidental data losses and improve the overall security strength of the facility.

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Several industries will see growth as a result of robotics adoption.

  1. Warehousing will continue to see growth, but not in such large amounts as other industries since robot adoption is already so widespread throughout warehousing.
  2. The construction industry  Robotics will help with construction and also provided insight to critical issues, analytics, and more.
  3. Custom manufacturing  These niche players have been slower to adopt collaborative robots and should show the most growth overall.
  4. Agriculture Based on widespread labor shortages, there is enough economic incentive to ensure continued development in this space.
  5. Robotic Sanitation  Covid-19 spurred a boom for robot sanitation solutions in hospitals and industrial facilities. Industries using automated sanitization will continue as the Covid-19-related need starts to fade.
  6. Clean energy  Robots can help automate the production of solar panels for turbines and can also help with the removal of dust from solar panels to ensure maximum output.

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Manufacturers should see significant changes to their production facilities during the transition to robotics automation. The rewards definitely outweigh the risks If you consider the true cost of implementing an autonomous robotics system. Robotics technology is an exciting development for many industries all over the world by offering increased productivity, accuracy, and an improved work-life balance.

Derek Solas