Legacy buildings are a stumbling block to the adoption of automation in logistics, says new whitepaper

A new whitepaper from Panasonic Business has highlighted the requirement for automation friendly buildings as a key requirement to facilitate the growth of robotics and automation in logistics.

 

The report, What are the challenges for robotics and automation in logistics? looks at how automation will impact the human workforce, analyses the barriers to adopting such technology and asks whether the shift to automation is being tackled in a secure way.

It found that automation is easiest to adopt when retailers build warehouses from scratch. Long commercial leases, of up to 25 years, on historic buildings make it difficult to find the additional space required during the transition phase for deploying this new technology.

Of notable interest, the report found that as robots become more adept at handling manual processes, the likelihood of them consuming everyday jobs is rapidly increasing. Amazon, for example, claims to have 30,000 robots working across thirteen fulfillment centres.1

However, in the short term at least, humans retain the ability to detect and process smaller and finer details, which robots have not yet acquired.  

 

“There is still a way to go until robots completely surpass humans at performing operational tasks,”  said Tony O’Brien, Managing Director of Panasonic System Solutions in Europe. “Where robots are able to perform repetitive human tasks, retailers can use this as an opportunity to redeploy staff, making better use of their superior human skills elsewhere. This way they are not pushing out their employees, but enhancing their emotional skills to engage with their customers in a less transactional method .

 

The whitepaper also highlights that although technology will play a bigger role in global logistics operations, it will introduce additional business risks, such as the potential for more frequent security breaches. So when designing these solutions, safety and security must be a key consideration.  

The whitepaper is the result of a recent Panasonic Business industry forum on robotics and automation in logistics, with speakers from industry and academia exploring some of the challenges. It’s available to download from: bit.ly/logisticsreport2