MHI Solutions

Education

People Are at the Center of the Robotics Revolution

Automation not only delivers ROI, it enhances supply chain jobs and increases worker satisfaction.

By Fiona Soltes

A variety of factors are converging to bolster the ROI for automation. Beyond the present and future state of the workforce, the ever-increasing technological sophistication, and the growing understanding that supply chain operations must be faster, more efficient, more accurate and more transparent than ever, there’s this sizable “direct-to-consumer” shift. Demand has moved from handling larger pallets and cases to smaller and more frequent orders or “eaches” and automation makes this shift much easier to manage.

It’s no longer just B2C or B2B. As one industry veteran, Jim Tompkins, Ph.D., so appropriately terms it, it’s “B2Me,” where “me” could be a business or consumer. “In fact,” said Tompkins, chairman and CEO of both MHI member Tompkins International and the MonarchFX Alliance, “many of the product categories that once were B2B have become B2C, and vice versa. For the most part, B2B and B2C have become one.”

As automation and robotics offer opportunities to for firms to catch up—and to get ahead—some worry about the impact on jobs.

“Fears are being stoked among the workforce about robots taking jobs,” said Melonee Wise, CEO of MHI member Fetch Robotics, which builds robot systems for the logistics industry. “The reality is that robots take over tasks, and usually the worst tasks. Robotics has traditionally been designed to handle tasks that are dirty, dangerous or dull. While workers may have some initial trepidation when a Fetch robot is deployed at their location, as those robots start to take over the dull, dangerous and dirty tasks, those employees are happy to have them work alongside.”

Because of the state of the workforce, Wise said, warehouses and logistics “simply can’t afford to wait.” She quotes the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report to make her point: “The top challenge in the supply chain is ‘hiring and retaining a skilled workforce,’ at 63 percent of those surveyed; second is ‘customer demand for faster response times’ at 55 percent. And the same report points to robotics and automation as the top ‘trend of innovations being disruptive or a source of competitive advantage.’ These statistics point to an industry that is in desperate need of labor and at a technology that is in a position to alleviate that problem.”

Read More…


Leading manufacturing and supply chain executives agree that technology is the key to future success. As they digitize their supply chains they are generating more data than ever before, giving them the power to leverage that data to see their businesses in new ways and to make better decisions. These early adopters are creating real and measurable competitive advantage. When it comes to technology investment start small but think big. Build on your successes and learn from your failures. By investing wisely, you’ll create additional value in your supply chain and widen your advantage over the competition.

Industry Headlines

  MHISolutionsmag.com-Just as the “Holy Grail” has long been sought after for its great significance [...]

MHI Blog-Check out over 140 interactive educational sessions right on ProMat’s two show floors! ProM [...]

Bookmark MHIsolutionsmag.com to gain quick access to any and all MHI media and news information. MHI [...]

MIT Technology Review-None is easy, but all are incredibly important. And, quite a few of them are d [...]

Visit NewsWire to see more industry headlines

Latest Tweets