How pick-and-place robots improve warehouse productivity

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Over these past few years, the rise of robotic technologies has made robots an integral part of our lives. The global pandemic was a turning point and a shift into the new age. The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is on the horizon, driven by data and machine learning.

Pick-and-place robots are one example of warehouse automation that significantly benefits the companies adopting them. The use of pick-and-place robots is estimated to increase productivity between 25% to 70%, while also driving logistical costs down by between 20% and 40%.

Warehouse workers will primarily enjoy the company of their metal counterparts, leading to an overall increase in satisfaction levels in the work environment and high productivity. This article focuses on how pick-and-place robots improve warehouse productivity, mainly due to:

  • making products cheaper to buy
  • flourishing creativity and mundane tasks becoming a thing of the past
  • Affording workers a better work/life balance

Cheaper products to buy

Pick and place robots play a prominent role in making products cheaper. Due to the unforeseen pandemic, labor, and raw materials shortage, inflation has been at its highest in the United States alone since June of 1982. Workers are forced to allocate more disposable income towards essential products. In fact, these robots are cheaper and more productive than human labor in the long run. The secret behind this efficiency is the vision software that enables these robots to pick items robustly with almost no errors while minimizing the cost of mispicks.

For instance, Laundry Robotics since 2017 has been thriving by employing robots working full-time in their centres. Roy, one of their permanent robot employees and can fold up to 900 towels in one shift. On average, a human worker can fold up to 540 towels in a shift but employing robots to assist their speed, dexterity, and overall job quality has significantly impacted their work. Employing robots can reduce the overall production cost, which is not only beneficial in saving huge expenses for the companies but also for consumers.

Robots at the end of conveyor belt

Creativity will flourish, mundane tasks become a thing of the past

By giving robots repetitive, boring tasks, workers can focus on other areas where creativity prevails. Automation will free up workers to do more challenging work such as interacting with customers, developing better products and also managing the robots. The biggest fear of automation is losing millions of jobs to robots. However, the World Economic Forum predicts that automation will result in a net increase of 58 million jobs and a GDP increase of 5%, or 1.2 trillion in the U.S.

As automation finds its place in warehouses, workers will thrive on new and creative jobs. The World Economic Forum named “creativity” the third most crucial skill set needed to succeed in 2020 as automation continues to grow. One recent instance is an Amazon worker who transitioned from maintenance tech to a regional program manager. He was able to design a tool that made moving robotic units more efficient and ergonomic. This innovative solution led to Amazon patenting the design and using it in more than 25 fulfilment centres worldwide.

Thanks to cutting-edge vision technology enabling robots to deal with challenging logistics environments. This robust vision software allows robots to even perform complex tasks of picking overlapping items or shiny objects. The scope of vision software is inevitably as efficient as human cognition in recognizing, segmenting, classifying, and solving various logistics solutions.

Parcel picking

Affords workers a better work/life balance

Warehouse worker staff will primarily enjoy a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Robotic technologies can automate strenuous tasks such as depalletizing or truck unloading, ensuring a healthier work-life balance. Staff can take over higher-level cognitive activities instead of focusing on mundane tasks. A glaring problem found within these jobs is the chronic health issues that follow. Musculoskeletal issues are a common symptom from loading and unloading trucks. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the injury rate caused by improper pallet handling is 4.8 per 100 full-time employees.

This means that warehouse employees can now take time off during holiday seasons and achieve a better work-life balance. It is fair to say that automation is a tool that will help us enhance our jobs and lives by creating more time for ourselves.

In conclusion, Pick and place robots are a sweeping force that are only now beginning to play a role in our daily lives. These metal counterparts are assisting humans to take up repetitive and dangerous warehouse operations. MIT’s Task force on the Work of the Future reminds us that over 60% of jobs today did not exist a generation ago. No wonder the impact this technology will have on the world is unfathomable.