The Robots are Coming!


The robots are coming! The robots are coming! We aren’t talking about Robocop or even the loveable “Wall-E”. These new-age robots are headed directly to the warehouse. There has been subtle usage of robots in the warehouse for years, but Amazon’s purchase of Kiva set the stage for the current landscape of robotics within the warehouse.

There are a number of advantages to warehouse robots:

  • Robots have the capability to work 24×7 without a break.
  • The maintenance cost is relatively low, particularly in the first few years.
  • They move at about the same pace as a human walking at a fast pace.
  • They are incredibly accurate when programmed correctly.
  • And, they can boost warehouse productivity by up to 800%.

Additionally, across the country minimum wages continue to rise and robots have the potential to deliver a more stable labor cost vs. the traditional work force. During the holiday season, retailers and 3PLs alike can be challenged to meet increased demand and associated staffing levels. Robots can help warehouses better meet these requirements while at the same time eliminating the cost associated with interviewing, hiring, and training new staff. Robots also allow current employees to focus on the most important responsibilities of their job, thereby increasing productivity and efficiency. The days of warehouse workers walking 12 – 16 miles per day during an eight hour shift are fading.

Of course robots aren’t cheap, but they’re much less expensive than most people would think.  Typical warehouse robots that can transport products throughout the warehouse generally cost between $25k – $80k, plus the software to manage them, programming, and maintenance.  But even at those prices, the cost per hour is drastically less meaning it’s not a question of if, but rather when will we start to see robots in warehouses across the country.

Are you using robots today?  What will it take for you to make the leap?  Leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.  And thanks for reading!