Industry Trends

Robotics: Changing the World of Warehousing and Distribution

3 min read

Digit, a robot made to work in rugged warehouse management is being put to work in real time, given tasks that humans find difficult. Digit does the dirty work while humans approve that work in a more comfortable setting. Agility Robotics built Digit to be able to adapt to current warehouse environments which dismissed the need to build facilities around said robots. Digit is just one of the emerging robotic advancements that is changing the world of warehousing and distribution.

Robotic machine at work in a distribution center.

Robotics used in distribution center processes. 
Source: The New York Times

According to a study by the Material Handling Institute, usage of robots in warehousing and distribution will increase by 50% in the next five years! Why is this happening and what is the need for the increase in robotics? Companies like Amazon and Walmart consider robotics to be their saving grace as demand for online orders increases drastically as well as one that can reduce costs in the foreseeable future. Order fulfillment is their priority in this ecommerce wave.

These companies face growth so substantial that they simply cannot rely on human capital like they once did. The drive to automate warehouse systems comes from the goal of customer satisfaction within the ecommerce sector.

What would it be like to walk into storage facilities operated by a completely robotic labor force? Walmart has a 1.4 million square foot facility that shows exactly that. This is a fully automated warehouse that is capable of distributing essential foods and household items. An odd sight to see, it is just the cusp of the evolving world of retail. 

These centers drive higher profit margins for said companies as well as quicker and more accessible e-commerce for consumers. Warehouse management would be almost entirely ran by automation. The solution seems simple but many critics question the integrity of using a robotic labor force over a human one.

Well lit warehouse with yellow and orange beams.

Distribution center powered up by Rogers Electric commercial electricians.
Source: Rogers Electric

How are these changes affecting the human labor force in the distribution process? According to a Walmart executive, the effects are actually positive and promising. The entrance of robotics in distribution centers is improving employee well-being because of the decrease in physically demanding work. In fact, a robot similar to “Digit”, is made to take on rough tasks within order fulfillment that might be physically unsuitable for a human. 

Given that, will the improvements in working conditions sustain the current employee retention rates within these companies? For companies to retain their employees, they must use the e-commerce trends to create more jobs for humans in real time.

Delivery driving is a job that cannot be performed by a robot, at least not yet. The increase in online shopping will consequently, drive an increase in demand for delivery drivers. It is up to the companies to ensure quality work conditions for those specific employees.

In a world of continuous changes, skilled labor cannot be duplicated. Given that, a skilled labor force is an integral part to completing tasks that require precision and diligent oversight. Growing technology means a growing need for power. Commercial electricians will continue to be needed for this work and Rogers Electric can provide them. 

Rogers Electric’s team of commercial electricians has what it takes and more to execute high stakes jobs. As companies take measures to rely on automated systems and increase distribution services, the need to rely on skilled manpower will grow too.

Let Rogers Electric commercial electricians fulfill your increasing need for power.