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Warehouse automation & the future – High-quality work

Article by Megan Gee



Modern warehouse automation presents so many possible opportunities for businesses of every kind, size, and sector. But with any change as big as industry 4.0, it is entirely expected that public opinion may be less than completely positive and accepting straight away.

Many who see these changes are asking big and difficult questions. What does it mean for the workforce as a whole that robots are becoming ever more prominent? How will this change the way work is conducted? Will it matter to wider society, or is it just a business concern?

To get a better understanding of the answers to these questions, the Harvard Business Review has conducted in-depth research into workforce opinion of warehouse automation. Researchers and experts Rushda Afzal, Dave Light, Joe Lui, Raghav Narsalay, and Ida Nair Sharma came together to conduct a thorough investigation. They visited five countries (the US, UK, France, Spain, and China) where they spoke to sixty frontline picking staff as well as their immediate supervisory officers.

In these interviews, they learned a great deal about the hopes, fears, and expectations of these staff as warehouse automation enters their workplace. While many might expect that the fears predominate the discussion, the HBR’s results were far more nuanced. Many warehouse staff spoke of how they had seen warehouse automation improve and expedite their work. With more and more of this technology emerging, now seems an entirely apt time to ask “what can staff look forward to from warehouse automation?”

Higher-quality work

20% of the positive responses to the HBR’s research contained references to the way that modern warehouse automation would enable them to do their jobs better, as well as make their work more interesting and less repetitive.

One Chinese supervisor in a warehouse not yet using automation spoke of how they received many customer complaints about “sorting errors and the shipment of expired foods”. They hoped their company would advance to the next level of technology very soon.

A Floridian warehouse operator made a similar comment, “A lot of times there can be human error in the systems,” they explained. “Having technologies that help to improve the quality is great.”

Lots of warehouse workers also said that the time saved by warehouse automation allowed them to redirect their focus onto more important tasks. One French supervisor speaking about the change to their warehouse after automation said the following “[Now,] I only intervene if there is a technical problem. It makes my role more interesting and less repetitive”. A British counterpart shared a similar sentiment, “[I have] less supervision to carry out… [Now we have automated, I can] focus on other tasks.”

Time-saving is a key aspect of warehouse automation’s big appeal. One French warehouse worker said, “working with robots makes the job more interesting. It saves you time, because you have to go looking for information…everything is already integrated and digested by the robots.”

Discover next-generation warehouse automation

To see the full power of modern warehouse automation and how it can bring higher quality work to your warehouse, why not witness it in person? Wise Robotics is proud to own and operate Europe’s first flexible automation demonstration centre.

There, we provide in-person live demonstrations of how and why the modern warehouse automation system works, and what it can do for you and your staff. See how industry 4.0 warehousing could empower your business, learn more about why flexible robotics is the way forward, and grasp the real reason why the robotic revolution isn’t coming. Its’ already here.

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