Robotic applications in the manufacturing process is nothing new but until recently has been limited to simple repetitive processes. The implementation of more sophisticated robotic applications is well on its way in many commercial and retail environments. Self-driving forklifts and pic-and-pack robots are common in warehouses worldwide. Inside Amazon's warehouse in southern New Jersey, U.S., it isn't uncommon to find giant beetle-like robots moving around busily with vertical shelves stacked on them. In retail environments, Lowes is testing customer service robots that cruise the isles to direct and escort customers to what they seek. Walmart has two types of robots supporting inventory management, including shelf scanners and fast unloaders, machines which automatically scan and sort items unloaded from trucks based on priority and department. As robots increasingly move from warehouses to shop fronts, embedding Artificial Intelligence (AI) in them will allow retailers to dramatically transform their customer interactions. While a basic sensor-based robot can bring customers what they are looking for, an AI-led robot can offer personalized product recommendations. The robot's advice is invariably driven by analytical insights gleaned by combining data, such as customers' age and location, with their purchase histories. From logistics and supply chains to back-office operations, store operations, merchandising, sales and marketing, customer-facing experiences, and robotics can drive innovation and help boost top and bottom-line outcomes. Online retailers are developing systems that are user-individualized for customers at the front-end and business users at the back-end.
Making A Smooth Integration In The Workplace
It’s easy to see the threat these robots pose to certain positions in any organization. To some extent the threat is very real. There is little debate over the efficiency and cost savings of robotic technology over human interaction. This is definitely the direction things are headed. For both employer and employee there are some ways to turn this threat into opportunity. Employers may want to get workers involved in the application process. Programmers do have to understand the process in order to give the robots their instructions. Understandably some workers may feel that they are helping to train their replacement by offering input. Implementation protocol should emphasize the supportive nature of the robots in the process and assure key personnel of their importance to the organization. Of course, there will be some positions eliminated. Offer those employees training for more advanced positions. Digital savvy manufacturers and people who study them say that involving your people early in digital strategy, investing in training, rethinking and reassigning jobs as tasks, finding your technology champions, and looking for new opportunities are important parts of the equation.
Efficiency and Cost Savings Prevail
Arguably, Amazon is setting the pace of robotic technology in both the warehouse and online. Manufacturing and retail organizations have literally no choice but to keep pace with robotic, AI and RFID applications in their own systems. Having all the right information ready will make robotic installation faster and easier. A robotic integrator will need this data to make a proper recommendation and cost estimate.
Additional non-technical information can be just as useful in streamlining the process of robotic implementation. Once all success and failure criteria are determined and data is collected, it’s time to bring in a robotic system integrator. A good integrator will ask a lot of questions and dig deep into the process before making any recommendations. These are very big and very expensive steps. Mistakes and poor planning can be devastating to your organization's competitiveness and bottom line. Reach out to the experts at Land Link Traffic System for manufacturing and logistics protocol guidance. Contact one of our experts today to get started!