Do robots really have a positive effect on boosting employee wellness in fulfillment centers and DCs?
When artificial intelligence and logistics collide, one of the more surprising outcomes is along with an increase in productivity there’s also a noticeable uptick in employee happiness. Today’s onslaught of demands on distribution centers and the warehouse industry’s labor shortages have been well documented. The effects of vigorous physical labor and repetitive tasks lead to injuries and high turnover rates in distribution facilities, with workers leaving for healthier opportunities. One way to solve this problem is robotic automation. What’s evident is that the benefits of robots go beyond the tasks each robot can perform. They improve the nature of the work done by warehouse operators, therefore, boosting productivity and employee morale. Robots offer a harmonious work environment, and here are the reasons why:
Human and Robot Collaboration
A successful robot implementation goes beyond getting a robot and pressing the ‘on’ button. The harmonious collaboration between robots and humans is vital for success. Robots are service providers for warehouse workers, by assisting in tasks and processes. Robotic automation replaces the effort required to perform the most repetitive, tedious, and/or boring tasks by the worker. In the same way that tools, such as drills and forklifts were invented to help workers complete their tasks with ease; the same applies to robots. Robots are highly intelligent tools designed to assist human workers.
Robotization Offers an Opportunity to Improve Wellness and Safety
Besides relinquishing workers of repetitive tasks, robots also save workers from dangerous operations in the warehouse. When dealing with large and heavy inventory, there is an increased chance of mishaps and accidents that endanger workers. These accidents often lead to hospitalizations, rendering operators unable to complete their tasks – and wondering whether they’ve chosen the correct line of work.
Dorabot understands the importance of safety and employee care. All robotic solutions are designed to assist and relieve workers of repetitive and dangerous tasks. Additional safety features are added to each robot’s functionality. DoraLiDAR, Safety Fencing, Light Curtains and interlocks are a natural part of Dorabot’s robotic ecosystem, prioritizing the need to protect warehouse personnel from harm.
Reducing Product Delivery Delays by Improving Fulfillment Center Efficiency
The speed and consistency of robots allow fulfillment centers and DCs to meet high demands and counteract problems with shipping delays. Numerous variables can lead to delays, such as traffic, weather, supply surge and a less than optimal number of delivery drivers. Robots provide some much needed control over outcomes by at least reducing the time it takes to perform tasks in the fulfillment center. Robots allow for guaranteed efficiency by completing tasks promptly and improving efficiency within the same footprint or less than what’s required for human fulfillment. For example, Dorabot’s sorting solutions average a throughput of more than 1,000 items per hour. Similarly, DoraPalletizers are capable of palletizing items weighing up to 75 pounds at a throughput of 500 or more cases per hour.
Less Burden on the Workforce
It seems of late that just about every DC, warehouse and fulfillment center is facing increased demand while struggling with a decrease in the availability of operators. This combination leaves warehouse management teams, HR staff, recruiters and trainers in an unenviable situation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the warehouse industry is among the top industries with the highest turnover rate. This situation creates an inordinate level of pressure for current warehouse workers to fulfill orders without enough support to carry out tasks typically intended for a larger number of staff. Robots are a much-needed helping hand. In this case, the helping hand may be equipped with a powerful pneumatic-driven suction gripper with multiple sensors and high-definition 3D cameras, but it is a helping hand nonetheless.
ming the robot about the package’s location and which bin is the targeted destination. This process helps couriers focus on other activities that allow for greater efficiency, such as loading packages onto their vehicles for last-mile deliveries.
“The successful collaboration with DHL has again proved that AI and robotics are ‘must have’ technologies for the enhancement strategy of logistics companies,” said Spencer Deng, Dorabot CEO.
COVID-19 has also driven changes in the logistics industry, which includes the acceleration of innovation, automation and digitalization in the workplace. During the pandemic, robotics allowed for greater social distancing without affecting the service center’s productivity. From its Americas Innovation Center in Rosemont, Illinois, DHL exhibits the technologies and innovations in logistics that the company is already implementing across the region, and its team drives the development of future logistics and supply chain solutions while serving as a regional platform for collaborative innovation with customers.
“The DHL Americas Innovation Center is dedicated to bringing impactful solutions to our vast network of operations, enabling significant benefits and process optimization. Our robotics sort solution allows us to handle greater volumes while maintaining the high service levels our customers know and love, particularly during a time where peak volumes are constant and labor is in high demand,” said Ben Perlson, Innovation Manager at DHL. “The e-commerce explosion has made robotics and automation a more important tool than ever to support our customers’ business operations.”
Approximately 13,000 customers engage with the DHL Innovation Centers globally per annum, and robotics and automation consistently ranks as one of the most sought-after trends. This technology presents clear opportunities to bolster operations and unlock new efficiencies, in addition to improving the wellbeing and safety of warehouse employees.
Over the past year, DHL has announced other advances in robotic deployments: its DHL Supply Chain division announced an expanded partnership with Locus Robotics to implement 1,000 additional LocusBots to support 12 DHL sites in North America in 2020. These robots assist in piece-picking order fulfillment in warehouses, navigating autonomously to quickly locate and transport pick items to associates.
Go to dhl.com/innovationcenter to learn more about how DHL is driving innovative solutions for its customers. To watch the Dorabot in action at the DHL Miami Service Center, visit https://youtu.be/903yN0AE7FA.