One of the big buzz words when it comes to warehouses right now is automation. We’ve talked about it a lot on our blog, too. One of the things that have a lot of warehouse workers worried, though, is that as warehouse equipment is automated it’s going to replace more of the human labor force. In a lot of ways, that’s a valid concern. Automation is cheaper, more efficient, and safer for warehouses, so it’s an extremely appealing addition. After the initial investment, most automation systems are relatively inexpensive to maintain, unlike a human labor force that has to be paid every two weeks.
Does this mean the end of labor costs in the warehouse?
It’s unlikely. While we’re certainly going to see a reduction in the number of people required to make a warehouse run efficiently, we won’t see the disappearance of warehouse workers altogether. What they are doing, though, is almost certainly going to change. You’ll see less…
- Walking packages to their destination.
- Picking orders by hand.
- Picking orders one at a time.
All of these tasks (and many others) can be replaced by warehouse equipment such as conveyor belts, drones, and RFID tags that allow a robot picker to identify the necessary items to fulfill an order. The capabilities of automation are only going to expand, too, and you’ll see more and more of it in warehouses in the coming years. That means it’s probably coming to your warehouse, too.
So Where Will Human Labor Fit In?
At this point, there is still plenty left for humans to do in the warehouse environment. More complicated tasks such as inventory control can be aided by computers and automation, but on the whole, there still needs to be a human’s touch. Someone will also need to be around to maintain the automated systems. If something breaks down, not only will a human have to fix it, they’ll have to pitch in to get the work done until the automated system is back up and running.
The biggest change will come in what people are doing within the warehouse and the kind of training they’ll need to do it. There will be fewer menial tasks for the labor force to complete, and that means the more skilled tasks will need to be fulfilled. Companies can encourage existing employees to expand their skill set and train in some of these more in-demand and highly skilled areas.
Are You Automating Your Warehouse Equipment?
If you haven’t thought about automating more of your warehouse equipment yet, now is the time to start. Talk to one of the warehouse consultants at DAK Equipment & Engineering and they can help you identify the best areas to start automating and discuss the impact your investments will have on your labor force, good and bad. Get in touch with us today by calling us or sending us a message through our website. Our team is excited to help you update your warehouse equipment so you can lower costs and see a better bottom line!