Archive for Warehouse Automation

The Warehouse Labor Gap is Unsustainable

US warehousing and storage industry (3PL) employment grew from 779 million in January 2015 to 1.2 billion in December 2018, a CAGR of 11% from 2015 through 2018. At the same time, US unemployment is at historic lows. This suggests that the warehousing and storage industry must hire workers from other industries. Stories about individual warehouses paints a picture of high demand for labor, low availability, and high turnover rates. Something has to “give”.

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Is 2019 the Year of Robotic Piece Picking?

The overall structure and content of the MHI Promat and Modex events evolves very slowly from year to year. However, a prevalent theme seems to arise each year that differentiates one event from years prior. I’m told that robotic piece picking was the stand-out theme at LogiMAT last month and that theme will surely cross the pond to ProMat next month. I plan to spend a large portion of my time in Chicago at the […]

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Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) Come of Age

The key for AMRs is that they enable workers to be more productive due to constant collaboration. During Steve Banker’s panel discussion on AMRs at ARC Advisory Group’s Forum last week, the four panelists made two key points about AMRs. First, robots are not replacing human workers, but rather, are assisting them. Second, warehouse labor is becoming harder to find and more expensive to train and retain. These two reasons are why there will be an increase in AMRs in the warehouse.

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The Forces Driving the Need for Employee Engagement in the Warehouse

ARC Advisory Group recently did a survey that yielded some interesting findings of the current labor situation in warehouses and distribution centers. For instance, 50% of all warehouse job openings have five or fewer applicants, which is up from 32% five years ago. Of that smaller pool of applicants, half have no prior experience. At the same time, the survey found that turnover is higher than ever before. Also, a healthy overall economy, and a […]

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How Humans and Robots Will Work Together in the Supply Chain

Humans and robots can work in harmony to create a safer, more efficient working world. Here’s what that might look like. In Robots in the Supply Chain: The Perfect Employee? Merril Douglas paints a picture of a time in the near future when robots and humans will work side-by-side to help companies gain speed, increase accuracy, cut costs, and handle the grunt work. “We’re sitting in the middle of a perfect storm for robots in […]

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Maximizing Man and Machine In The Modern Warehouse

The impact of digital transformation and connected commerce are resounding across industries. Forward-thinking companies around the world are challenging themselves to serve more customers, more quickly, more directly and more personally. In other words, omnichannel distribution projects aren’t just for retailers anymore, and warehouse technologies need to keep up. Supply chain leaders have noted the benefits other businesses have gained and are taking action. It’s no longer acceptable to operate channels with segregated warehouse space, […]

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Maximizing MHE: The “Automation-Aware” WMS

Businesses trust material handling equipment (MHE) providers for automated guided vehicles (AVG), conveyors, robotics, sortation, storage and beyond. Top to bottom, material handling manufacturers outfit warehouses with the latest and greatest. This goes beyond automation hardware—on the back page of a MHE provider’s RFP, you can often find a warehouse control system (WCS) bundled into the deal. A prevailing thought is if the manufacturer made the hardware, they must have the software to go with […]

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How to Buy Your First Autonomous Robot

Take a calculated approach to robotics procurement and you’ll stand the best chance of successfully aligning it with your company’s mission, values, and future plans. In Robots in the Supply Chain: The Perfect Employee? Merril Douglas paints a picture of a time in the near future when robots and humans will work side-by-side to help companies gain speed, increase accuracy, cut costs, and handle the grunt work. “We’re sitting in the middle of a perfect storm […]

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Remember Webvan? They Weren’t Wrong – Just Early

It’s funny how some trends seem to go “full circle.” In 1999, everybody thought they could pick the next big thing. Then after the dot.com bubble burst, it seemed like everybody distanced themselves from their “visionary” pasts. I recall a brief discussion I had around 2002 with a self-described “internet guy.” He commented about the online grocery company Webvan’s business model with the statement “I don’t know what they were thinking – I mean, if you double-bag […]

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NextShift Robotics, An Autonomous Mobile Robot that Optimizes the Picking Process

313 million dollars has been invested by venture capital companies in developing autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) solutions in the last several years. ARC’s recent global market study on this market shows it to be a very rapidly growing market. An autonomous mobile robot is a vehicle that requires no change to a facilities infrastructure to implement and operate. Often, these vehicles are led around a facility and then create a map of the facility that […]

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