Despite a recent report from DHL Trend Research stating that 80 percent of warehouses are still manually operated with no supporting automation, there are a few other trends that suggest things are about to change. First, the price of automated labor compared to human labor has fallen by up to 50 percent since 1990, per research from McKinsey Group, and the logistics industry as a whole is faced with a growing labor shortage crisis. Additionally, there’s been an influx of systems in recent years that augment human labor by reducing what laborers have to carry and the distances they have to travel to get the items that were ordered.
Distribution centers (DCs) and fulfillment centers (FCs) that make the investment in robotic picking and sorting solutions, for example, report productivity gains of 10x (sometimes more) while decreasing picking and sorting errors. With so much to be gained from these new technologies and price points geared toward small to midsize businesses, it’s no wonder why the Logistics Bureau sites “warehouse robotics in the supply chain,” as the most important supply chain and logistics trend to keep an eye on in 2017.