Warehouse equipment drones – the future is here
The trend toward robotics in industry is increasing, as we briefly described in our previous blog post about warehouses of the future. Robotics and drones offer new capabilities that can make work faster, easier and safer. However, fully-expanded use of the technology will probably not arrive for another decade.
Robotics and drones can dramatically increase productivity. Amazon, the online retail giant, says that Prime Air, its drone program, will eventually deliver packages of up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less. Walmart says that, by utilizing drones, their inventory can now be completed in 24 hours. Using traditional methods, the process would take a month. Locus robots work well in warehouses with a wide variety of stock keeping units (SKUs) that are picked – in other words, e-commerce warehouses. Tasks that used to require eight hours to complete can now be finished in less than an hour. With the use of these robots, the floor level associates time on their feet is greatly diminished and fewer workers are needed.
The new technology is versatile, able to complete tasks that are challenging, risky or slow for workers. PINC System’s drones are used for asset location and for cycle counting inside warehouses. Because drones can find lost pallets and slots that are currently empty, PINC believes that the payback for this automation will be worth the cost involved. Automation is highly flexible and scalable. A company can invest in a limited number of robots and utilize them in one small portion of the warehouse and assess the results before making a major expenditure.
Return on investment is the single biggest question for businesses looking into warehouse equipment drones or other robotics for their future. Not only are there monetary costs but also the time and labor required to put the new technology in place. During the final day of eyefortransport’s 3PL Summit and Chief Supply Chain Officer Summit in Chicago, industry leaders indicated that, often, these types of investments require five to ten years before receiving real payback. Alternatively, manual operations have lower productivity but do not demand the financial risks.
“The common use of drones won’t be seen for a number of years, Dunlap concedes, as it may still be cheaper to pay a worker $8.0 an hour than spend tens of thousands of dollars on high-tech gear that’s still not widely proven as efficient. ‘Change in the warehouse world will be incremental. It’s not going to be like watching the Jetsons where you push a button and everything is automated. You’re still going to need humans to handle the unpredictable product handling issues—at least for a little while longer,’ he notes.”
Innovation always drives business growth and new technology will have a dramatic effect on how tomorrow’s warehouse will function. The real question is how best to implement new methods to improve business performance and ensure a strong return on investment.
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Culver Equipment is ready to help you assess your warehousing processes and create a new system or innovation that can dramatically improve your bottom line. Our design team utilizes the latest AutoCAD software and can develop one-of-a-kind components to improve the functioning of your warehouse. We can also build custom pieces for your specific storage needs. Our experienced team of installers strives to deliver projects on time and under budget. Let us put our tremendous inventory combined with our vast experience delivering customized warehouse solutions to work for you. Contact us online today for your new and used warehouse equipment needs, or warehouse consulting. Or call us today at 480-855-0088.