Industrial Revolution 2.0

The Rise of Robotics & Automation

The buzz in board rooms in America’s manufacturing and supply chain sectors is to do more with less, implement, automate and review robotics solutions that help reduce labor costs and create safer working environments.

The sense of urgency and the challenge ahead for many companies is finding willing and qualified skilled labor for logistics operations.

There are currently two million jobs going unfulfilled in the manufacturing sector. This is largely due to an aging workforce – with the average age of a manufacturing worker at approximately 45.

Most of the upcoming workforce is less willing to take on manual labor jobs compared to earlier workforce generations.

Although this may seem like a primary concern, reducing overall manual labor, injuries, sick days and general distribution handling challenges should be both the employees and employers’ main objectives. 

The false perception today is that robotics will replace humans in the workforce. In fact, manufacturers and distributors that focus on removing redundant and unsafe manual tasks are cutting costs, improving customer service and providing a safer work environment.

Amazingly, when we think of the Chinese workforce, we think of millions of people in sweat shops making products by hand. However, many companies have noticed that after taking site tours of Chinese factories – China utilizes a significant amount of automated robotics equipment for mass produced products.

Many businesses are starting to realize that this technology can be implemented in America without the lead times and product quality or communication issues of overseas suppliers.

Workers that previously practiced manual material movement and redundant lifting can now be re-deployed to higher paying technical jobs, including: robotics installation, maintenance and on-going process improvement programs.

Companies should adopt Apprenticeship programs in robotics design, manufacturing and maintenance with local community colleges, high schools and vocational training organizations so that college and non-college bound students can build a foundation of knowledge for their current and future employers.

The manufacturing floor or logistics worker of the future will provide a hybrid of white and blue-collar skill sets creating a bottom up approach to process improvements.

As “Made in America” continues to hold and manufacturing remains on-shore, companies will need to consider industrial automation for pallet storage regarding in-bound raw material, buffer zones and finished goods areas.

Using Automated Industrial Robotics such as Pallet Shuttle and GlideRack combined with Laser Guided Unmanned Vehicles (LGV) provides a low-cost, fast track implementation and modular storage potential for long term flexibility.

These systems and equipment even have the opportunity to be lease financed so upfront costs stay low to help cash flow overall improvements.

In reality, robotics and automation are expected to be the industry’s biggest game changer, as they will enable manufacturers and distributors to improve workers’ lives at the micro and macro levels – greater automation, efficiency, safety and productivity.

As a result, the North American manufacturing sector will not only survive, but it will showcase the power of our innovation and ultimately revolutionize the way we work.