How is Warehouse Automation a Workforce Multiplier?

Automation isn’t a worker reduction initiative; it is a leverage play so that your employees can be even more productive and valuable.

While some people might enjoy in-store shopping at their local retail store, many of us have turned to the internet as a more effective way to maximize our precious time. As a result, e-commerce is booming—according to Forrester Research, online sales are expected to grow by double digits over the coming years and will account for roughly one-third of all retail sales by 2027.

That’s scary news if you own or operate one of the warehouses that services these e-commerce sites and are struggling to find the labor for open shifts. Knowing that the worker shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, 67% of leading supply chain companies are making the investments necessary to augment their workforce with automated material handling systems to pick, sort, and place the mountains of packages that flow through these facilities.  

Maximize your time

Automation can handle up to 45% of repetitive work, and robots can process more packages without stopping than their human counterparts. They don’t need breaks or vacations or incur back injuries after lifting a box that's too heavy.  They can handle cumbersome and bulky parcels and boxes in place of human workers to create better workplace safety.  Automating repetitive and dangerous tasks allows your human workers to take on more high-value tasks like problem-solving and developing new ideas.

When elevating your employees to new roles such as a Crew Chief, who can oversee dozens of robots at once, exceptions can be handled remotely.  This saves valuable time and can improve sorting and picking throughput by 30% or more.

Bridge the labor shortage gap

“If you have a task that needs doing, you’re going to have to find bodies for that task—not for one shift, not for two shifts, but probably for six shifts because that job will keep churning. So where does that leave you? Looking at automation as your path forward.” – Erik Nieves for ROBO Global.

With shipping growth expected to rise by 25% over the next five years and warehouse turnover rates reaching 43%, labor shortages will continue to increase as warehouses and distribution centers struggle to fill roles.  Robotic automation combats the need to meet customer demand by allowing warehouses and distribution centers to operate 24/7, and robots cannot churn.

Elevate your employees

Operating 24/7 relies heavily on having a human-in-the-loop to mitigate the challenges caused by variability.  Parcel types are widely varied and often change seasonally.  For large distribution centers with many package and product types flowing in and out, it is necessary to have an automation solution flexible enough to recognize, pick, and place correctly the first time.  With AI-powered vision software with a human-in-the-loop, this is possible.

When implementing warehouse automation with a human-in-the-loop, a single human worker can remotely direct and support dozens of robots' workflows simultaneously while enhancing the robot’s AI.  This elevates humans to do more mentally stimulating work like that of a human Crew Chief, while the robots do the dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs.

Automation isn’t a worker reduction initiative; it is a leverage play so that your employees can be even more productive and valuable.

The solution

Plus One Robotics has developed AI-powered vision software and Human-in-the-Loop products to make robots smarter and more flexible and able to perform more tasks in less time than ever before. This allows fulfillment and distribution centers to process more goods in the same floor space and helps “upskill” warehouse workers, allowing them to collaborate with and master advanced robotics, effectively multiplying your workforce.

By 2024, labor availability will reach unsustainable levels in both the US and Europe, so not only is automation a force multiplier, but it will also be a crucial part of future warehouse and distribution center operations.