The rise of Bots in Ecommerce Fulfilment Centres ... or not!
3 reasons why Autofulfil will not use Fulfilment Centre Bots to pick and pack.
In the movie Rocky 4, Sylvester Stallone, or Rocky rather, bought a robot servant for his Brother-in-law - Paulie. Some 30 years later, that dream is becoming a reality as robots and AI are slowly making inroads into our workplaces and homes too.
In the Logistics world, automation is seen by many as the holy grail for fulfilment efficiency, but it’s not without problems. Without an expert team to programme, manage and maintain a fleet of robots the cost-benefit can be redundant, reversed even. That is, efficiency gains can be eroded by the huge cost of ownership.
So here’s a few reasons why Autofulfil do not intend to adopt Ecommerce Fulfilment Centre Robots
1) Opposable Thumbs and Scale
Amazon Robotics employ over 50,000 robots, that’s correct, as much as a small city. The eCommerce retailing giant however has yet solve a fundamental aspect of Human evolution – opposable thumbs. Yes, Fulfilment Centre Robots don’t have thumbs or hands - well not AGV’s.
This problem is magnified given that robots cannot handle irregular products or frequently changing kits that online retailers require to retain customers. So until a breakthrough is discovered in this space (Fulfilment centre warehouse )humans will continue to be the most efficient resource for pick and pack tasks.
Furthermore, Robots are not a good-fit solution for online Retailers when seasonality and Scalability is taken into account. The reason for this is ‘Time’. It can take weeks, months even years to design, test and deploy AGV’s (Automated Guided Vehicles) for an ecommerce fulfilment warehouse operation, where orders, pick & pack processes, kitting, verification and shipping are so unpredictable.
A combination of People, some linear automation and a Warehouse Management Software (WMS) can meet demand the level of agility required to scale on demand. What’s more, Amazon still turn to people, the retired workforce, to handle spikes associated with Black Friday and other Holiday periods.
2) Cost of Fulfilment Bots
A study by Mckinsey suggests that only 45% of the work that people perform today can be automated, not yet anyway. One of the biggest obstacles is cost. Undertaking a warehouse automation project can cost Millions of Euro and the return on investment does not add up.
Aside from the financial cost, Automation also has social implications, touching a nerve with respect to on ethics. If people are displaced by machines, what future are we creating for the next generation?
On the other hand, Bots and AI do not mean the end for Human jobs, in fact some reports suggest that new technology is in fact creating new jobs, new roles that didn’t exist before.
3) Other ways
For Ecommerce companies, B2B organisations and Online Retailers seeking to achieve order Fulfilment scalability or meet on-demand seasonality, Autofulfil can offer Fulfilment services for exactly that without Bots. Plus we’re more agile, cheaper and friendlier than a fleet of bots!
At Autofulfil, AGV’s (Automated Guided Vehicles) means something else to our team … AGV = Always Good Value for our Ecommerce Clients.
Talk to Autofulfil Bot-free team today on: +353 1 541 5460 or email us: Sales@autofulfil.com