Arming Warehouses with Robotics and Automation

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The Canadian supply chain and logistics industry foresees a promising future integrating robotics and automation into their processes.

In 2015, the value of Canadian robotics reached $201 million in orders, with an annual growth rate of 32% between 2010 and 2015. With consumer demands for speed and efficiency increasing, the supply chain and logistics industry is seeking accelerated processes from robotics.

In the eBook, Supply Chain & Logistics: A Transforming Workforce, robotics was identified as a top technology companies should adopt to remain competitive. Companies must focus on providing consumers with individualized experiences and personalizing their product journey to provide hyper-flexibility. Statistics showed that by 2025, USD$67 Billion will be invested into robotics and automation. A value that represents the industries confidence in the benefits of this technology.

This article looks at how the robotics industry is transforming Canadian markets and how the supply chain industry can leverage this technology.

Canadian Robotics Industry

Published by Canada’s Robotics Industry, Invest in Canada discusses the global robotics market and how the country is integrating this technology into leading industries. Their research indicates that the top three industries adopting robotics include:

  • Industrial Robotics
  • Personal and Service Robots
  • Factory Automation

The processes involved within each of the above listed industries require efficient supply chains to remain productive and effective. For instance, the manufacturing industry currently integrates robotics and automation into their warehouses. Automated handling systems contribute to reductions in operation costs and also help alleviate workers from engaging in dangerous tasks.

Canada ranks 13th globally based on “robot density”, which describes “the number of multipurpose industrial robots per 10,000 persons employed”. The value of this industry is increasing by the year, with market predictions soaring to $41 billion by 2020. However, direct investment into the industry isn’t the only way Canada is investing into the future of robotics.

Research shows that over 20 post-secondary institutions offer “advanced robotics courses and technical certifications”. The Globe and Mail has also identified the need for students to learn active listening, critical thinking and social perceptiveness. These human skills will help students excel in a future workforce of technological advancements that will surely include robotics.

Robotics and automation yield proven results that benefit many industries. However, experts believe that this technology could provide significant benefits to supply chains.

Robotics and Supply Chains in Action

The Canadian supply chain and logistics industry has been a late bloomer with the adoption of robotics and automation into their processes. The expansion of global markets is providing consumers with an instantaneous method to click and purchase. Therefore, the need for efficiency and speed is a top priority, urging the supply chain and logistics industry to get on board.

Supply Chain Digital identifies two primary benefits that robotics and automation will have on supply chains: zero-defect logistics and new levels of productivity. As stated in their article “Automation and robotics: The supply chain of the future”, it seems a target area of improvement is efficient handling. Mark Parsons states:

The new generation of collaborative robots and automated solutions with significantly improved performance and enhanced sensing capabilities, offers a genuine alternative to manual handling.

According to Supply Chain Management Review, robotics contributes significantly to order fulfillment, providing the following rewards:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved efficiency
  • Exceptional Customer Service
  • Scale modification based on demand

The implementation of robotics, in conjunction with a cohesive working relationship with workers, moves productivity along faster and more efficiently. Although there has been speculation that robots may replace workers, the implementation of artificial intelligence and technology is working to remove that myth. The implementation of a new generation of robots, known as collaborative robots (co-bots), enable them to work side-by-side with workers. The level of intelligence and flexibility in co-bots, complement workers rather than compete with them.

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