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Myth vs. Reality: Robots in the Warehouse

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In today’s day in age, it is almost impossible to go somewhere without running into some sort of automation. Robots are flipping burgers at your favorite fast food joint, delivering medication to patients in hospitals, assisting teachers in educational environments and even moving pallets across a warehouse.

While Hollywood has caused the majority of the population to view these robots as humanoid characters that are taking over the world, they are actually just intricate mechanical devices programmed to perform specific functions – mostly ones that are repetitive, dirty or dangerous. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the myths surrounding robots and their roles in warehouse operations.

Myth #1: Robots will eliminate your job

Almost every manufacturing company I’ve spoken to uses or plans on using robotics as a means to improve the efficiency of its operations and the quality of life of its workforce. To be honest, robots are no different than a craftsman using precision tools to increase output and make their job easier.

Over the last three years Amazon has increased the number of robots working in its warehouses from 1,400 to 45,000. Over the same period, the rate at which the company hires workers hasn’t changed. While the initial investment may seem high, these robots ultimately help Amazon keep prices low, which means people can afford to buy more. That increased demand forces the company to hire more people that can man its warehouses. This means that human workers are still a key part of the business, debunking the myth that robots eliminate jobs.

Myth #2: Investing money in automation will lower wages for workers

With increased demand also comes higher profits. If companies can make more money with the same number of workers, they can theoretically pay those workers more and offer better benefit packages. Furthermore, with automation, workers now need to learn new skills, namely those for working the machines. This means the labor force is more skilled than ever before and has better reasoning for competitive wages.

Myth #3: Automation makes humans obsolete

The McKinsey Global Institute has been conducting an ongoing research program on automation technologies and their potential effects. After analyzing 830 occupations, it concluded that just 5 percent of them could be completely automated; meaning automation is more likely to replace part of a job than an entire job.

At L’Oréal, for instance, robots are used in the distribution center to do all the limb-threatening and back-breaking tasks while workers oversee their operation and ensure the quality of their output. Companies like L’Oréal are setting the standard in this new era in manufacturing where robots help to reinvent and reinvigorate existing industries like the beauty sector.

By eliminating tasks that can be automated, employees can spend their valuable time on completing other critical work around the warehouse. Gone are the days of warehouse workers running between shelves collecting items to be packed. Instead, companies can be reassured that their workforce will be focused on the tasks that make the most sense for them to accomplish.

Author Cimcorp

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