With holiday shopping in full swing, retailers, e-commerce, and logistics companies are buried under peak demand. The current labor shortage and holiday shopping rush are leaving retailers pessimistic about their ability to fulfill orders. An Inmar Intelligence study revealed that 48% of the retailer participants do not think they will meet the holiday shopping demand this year. Various couriers and retailers are encountering a scarcity of warehouse workers and truck drivers, causing supply chain and delivery delays. Recently, FedEx mentioned that the labor shortage increased costs by $450 million in just one quarter, due to higher wages and capacity constraints in sorting hubs.
Companies can combat the labor shortage and boost productivity levels with the right technology by their side. Check out these four ways automation and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) increase throughput amid a labor shortage.
1. Increases Reliability and Consistency
AMRs are reliable and consistent, which are key qualities to boosting productivity amid a labor shortage. AMRs excel at repetitive tasks and get every request done on time, every time. Humans make mistakes, and miscalculations can stack up quickly. S&P companies reported $150 million in losses in one year due to human error. When AMRs are trusted with accident-prone jobs, such as manual forklift driving, costly human error can be eliminated from the equation.
Another benefit of AMRs reliably handling tedious tasks is that managers can reassign their existing human staff to more fulfilling, value-add jobs throughout the facility. Humans are excellent at critical thinking, making them a perfect fit for monitoring and managing AMR fleets. When human and robot workers are assigned to the responsibilities that best suit their skill sets, productivity soars.
Facility leaders can rely upon their AMR fleet to complete a consistent amount of work every shift. This allows leaders to plan ahead, track productivity, and make changes to ensure orders are filled on time.
2. Creates Safer Environments
During a labor shortage, manufacturing facilities and warehouses must prioritize safety. Unfortunately, manually driven forklifts are involved in nearly 97,000 injuries or fatalities every year. The good news is that AMRs make facilities safer by taking on the hazardous work. Seegrid Palion AMRs transport billions of pounds of materials each month and have driven millions of miles without any personnel safety incidents.
A big reason why Palion AMRs are able to maintain safe working environments is their autonomy technology, called Seegrid IQ. Palion AMRs leverage sensor fusion to give the robots an extremely accurate, human-like understanding of their immediate surroundings. Each robot can gather and interpret large quantities of real-world, live data points to succeed in bustling workspaces.
3. Provides Flexible Solutions
Flexibility with an automation system is key in a time when consumer demand continues to surge. These solutions allow facilities to pivot quickly to changing and expanding customer demands, leading to business growth even during stressful peak times.
AMRs can easily scale to meet high demands and new requirements on a tight timeframe, without ignoring safety and efficiency. AMRs are easy to train and retrain to adapt to your needs. All a facility worker needs to do is drive an AMR on its route once, and then the AMR takes it from there. Flexible automation solutions ensure that you can keep production running without downtime when changes occur—simply redeploy your AMRs to different tasks, shifts, or facilities.
Employees can learn more about how their facility is performing by gaining a holistic, data-driven view of material flow. Seegrid’s cloud-based fleet analytics software, Fleet Geek, provides supply chain visibility by presenting intuitive data visualizations and status updates. Users can find out how their facility is running, identify which metrics are tracking to plan, and pinpoint where modifications can be made to strengthen performance.
4. Manages E-commerce Returns
Automation can help streamline processes to effectively manage e-commerce returns, also known as reverse logistics. Since demand and e-commerce returns have dramatically risen, this process can be complicated and can negatively affect a budget and time, particularly during a labor shortage. Automation provides hands-free flexibility which can lower safety issues while being reliable, consistent, and flexible. In addition, a flexible automation solution can give an organization higher productivity and labor allocation, which are two things that are needed when there is heightened demand throughout a holiday season.
A Powerful Addition Beyond Labor Shortages
Even when peak periods come to an end, automation and AMRs can be a powerful addition to your thriving business. Their consistency, safety, and flexibility allow facilities to quickly adjust to meet the current climate and future goals.