Are Robots About to Take Over E-commerce Warehouses?

by Emily on May 24, 2017

in Articles

A couple of decades ago, science fiction writers put a lot of effort into trying to predict how the life will be like once we enter the 21st century. And a lot of ideas they came up with included robots who’ve taken over a lot of our everyday activities – from preparing breakfast to getting us back home from work. This maybe isn’t the case right now, but it doesn’t mean robots don’t play a huge role in certain areas of our lives and jobs. E-commerce is one of the fields that uses robots quite a lot and it seems their role in it is only going to increase. But are they going to take over e-commerce warehouses completely?

Early stages

For years, robots have slowly been taking more active roles in more than a few industries. Their responsibilities became more visible and right now, they’re the backbone of many large companies. This is the case because they can take on repetitive and menial tasks that would keep real employees from more important work. Not only this, but they’re also more enduring and are able to do the same job that requires four or five humans.

Such advanced technology is constantly being upgraded and robots are starting to gain more and more responsibilities. That’s why they’ve started performing more complex tasks that would present an obstacle for real employees. Such is the case in the world of e-commerce warehousing, where robots took over many difficult tasks.

Robots at Amazon

There’s no need to say that Amazon is one of the most successful companies of today. And in 2011, this company introduced thousands of robots that will be working in their warehouses. Of course, their robots, even though they’re considered to be among the finest, don’t do all the work. The tasks they’re in charge of serve simply to make a real employee’s job easier. For example, there are robots in Amazon’s warehouses who deliver boxes to human employees.

Special software is used to guide these robots and allow them to perform all of these tasks. Furthermore, they’re equipped with motion sensors which enable them to identify items they’re supposed to get. Even though their tasks sound quite simple, robots at Amazon managed to save the company loads of money. In fact, they increased productivity in the warehouses, which only had a positive effect on their sales.

Robots used today

Robots at Amazon sure do a great job and that’s why many other companies have shown interest into using AIs in their own warehouses. As a result, almost all of the big e-commerce warehouses today are using robotized devices for their work which started to change the way running a warehousing business looks today.

There are robots whose job is to stock shelves and deliver stuff to human employees, which can be of much help, especially in large warehouses. Of course, it’s necessary for warehouse owners to provide both their real employees and robots with all the stuff necessary for their work. For example, a warehouse owner needs to make sure they have good scissor lifts and all the software necessary for running a successful warehouse.

The bottom line

So, what can we really expect from robots in this industry to do in the future? Total automation isn’t a thing yet and it seems robots will never be able to possess emotional intelligence humans do, which is, in fact, necessary for running a successful business in any industry. Still, robotic devices are only going to become better and we can expect to see them be able to perform even more tasks at warehousing companies.

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Edward Lim October 12, 2017 at 08:30

The increasing volume of e-commerce business is driving more adoption of robotics in warehouse operations. I’ve read in some blog that the robots have a speed of 5 mph and can gold packages that weight up to 317 kilograms. But not all companies can afford this kind of technology for managing their warehouse. Great post to read on.

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