Have you ever seen an automated warehouse? It is a highly recommended show for all audiences. After all, seeing robots moving stealthily and at full speed through a warehouse in a perfectly synchronized formation bears some resemblance to dance. Process automation is an unstoppable reality that has marked a turning point in warehousing operations. One need only look at Element Logic’s AutoStore system in operation to see that automation is a decision that cannot be put off any longer, but there are many more arguments.
Everything points to the fact that this trend will continue to gain prominence in the coming years, as it is one of the top investment priorities for supply chain managers. According to data from Accenture, the global warehouse automation market currently exceeds $15 billion, and forecasts indicate that this figure will double in the next four years. Likewise, the XII Logistics Circle Barometer prepared by SIL 2022 also confirms that automation will mark the logistics of the future. The survey of 1,032 Spanish logistics or supply chain managers shows that it will be the most decisive factor for supply chain managers in the coming years.
To explain this growth, it is enough to see the advantages of warehouse automation. A Prologis report states that it allows companies to increase their productivity by 20% without the need to acquire more logistics land. The data available to us are even more positive. According to direct feedback from our customers, Element Logic’s automated AutoStore solution has, for example, increased picking capacity by 300% for the textile company New Wave and up to 400% for the footwear,clothing and outdoor equipment company Bergfreunde.
¿Do workers still perceive automation as a risk? It is possible that, despite all these arguments, there are still some critics of this automation process because of the transformation it represents in the labor market. It is undeniable that this is an issue that has historically generated a great deal of debate and continues to cause concern among professionals, but some studies suggest that it is beginning to be perceived differently. A recent Accenture survey of warehouse workers and supervisors in Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and China concludes that these professionals increasingly value the positive aspects of automation. Based on the results of this study, an article in Harvard Business Review notes that workers are optimistic that technology can make their lives easier: better working conditions, greater safety, and increased speed and efficiency in their work. The other side of the coin, however, continues to be the fear of job loss, lack of training resources, or downtime or errors due to technology malfunctions.
The authors of the article refer to the importance of providing training to all those workers who are most exposed to automation so that they feel comfortable with the technology and are able to deal with any setbacks, as well as for companies to continue investing in safety and offering real growth opportunities to their professionals.
It is undeniable that there will be jobs that will be replaced by automatic systems, especially those linked to movement, repetitive, routine and uncreative tasks, but from the logistics sector there is consensus on the emergence of new professional profiles that will emerge, with greater added value, such as employees capable of programming or repairing robots and improving processes.