It is estimated that around 57% of the existing warehouse and logistics operations would be automated or taken over by advanced robots. This leaves more than 40% of the jobs not being automated. Warehouse managers and companies will see that these jobs need to be fulfilled by their existing workforce. Operators are increasingly accepting the benefits of companies adopting robotics.
Numerous studies have shown how robots and humans collaborate together successfully however, one additional aspect that goes relatively unnoticed is that adoption of robotics has the potential to create new jobs. One analysis shows that in Europe, 1 robot per 1000 workers correlates to a rise in employment by a factor of 1.3.
So how does, robots, which replaces the existing warehouse flow, actually creates employment?
An important facet of robotics today is cobotics. Robots are only deployed to overtake dangerous or repetitive tasks and not the entire workflow. By allowing humans and robots to collaborate, warehouses have a unique opportunity to retrain the existing workforce and provide an additional influx of manpower in other highly sensitive or valuable tasks.
Retraining, not replacing, is the way warehouses are looking forward, and by creating a workforce ready to blend in other production/warehouse areas, productivity can be increased up to 15%. This increased efficiency provides economic expansion which in turn creates additional supply/demand influx, and thus has the potential to create additional jobs to cater these.
Providing Knowledge Matrix
Over the next decade, warehouses are expected to transform human-robot interactions. Robots do not work alone: installation, maintenance, and monitoring will always require humans.
New employment opportunities, jobs requiring high analytical skills, and a unique level of interaction will be the need of the hour. This would create a common minimum skill requirement needed to manage and control warehouses and also these machines. Operators would be expected to possess multiple and transferable skills and this would increase the knowledge level matrix. For example, adopting a higher number of SKUs in warehouses may require dynamic slotting to be efficient and this, in turn, requires additional analytical skill training.
Hence, the adoption of robotics not only has the potential to create additional jobs but also raise the skill-level required for carrying out jobs.
Facts and Figures
Robotic job creation is not only operational but also factual. As robotics adoption has grown over the past decade, here are some numbers on why the trend is likely to surge.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, between 2000 and 2008, robotics created 300,000 direct jobs and 3,000,000 indirect jobs in the world. By 2020, 3,500,000 new jobs will be created thanks to robotics. As investments in robotics grow multi-fold, these numbers would only increase
An OCED study notes that as robotics offers a competitive, dynamic, and job-creating activity, it is not a surprise to see that the countries which adopted robotics also witness a reduction in the unemployment rate (South Korea 3.5%, Japan 4.8% and in Germany 6%)
Sure, robots replace some tasks done by humans and make these requirements redundant (Eg: material movement/storage), but how many others are saved or created? A point to think about.
* Note : AGV = Autonomous Guided Vehicles