Robots today are in almost every aspect of our lives – from performing the most mundane tasks, such as cooking dinner or fulfilling prescriptions, to taking centre stage in the most delicate keyhole surgeries or helping to explore the farthest reaches of outer space.
Just as robotics have taken a role in our everyday lives, the logistics industry can also benefit from a similar world of possibilities.
The ‘Advanced Robotics in the Factory of the Future’ report 1 by Boston Consulting Group confirms that transportation and logistics, technology, and automotive companies are tapping into the potential of robotics.
True to this analysis, in the not-so-distant future, we foresee multiple technologies working together with those already in place to develop a more advanced delivery model within our industry.
The day may begin with a customer ordering the pick-up of a shipment through a voice or text assistant on a mobile device, with a driverless vehicle pulling up at the doorway, or a robot coming to the door to collect the package, taking it back to the vehicle or station, and then going on its way.
While this might sound like science fiction, most aspects are already achievable.
Virtual assistants are already making orders and organization more convenient and flexible for the customer.
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of the digital customer, drones and autonomous delivery devices like Roxo, the FedEx SameDay delivery bot, currently being tested, will also be used in select last-mile deliveries.
Delivery bots will use artificial intelligence and sensors to safely navigate to their destination and deliver packages door-to-door within our neighbourhoods, while drones will transfer critically needed packages, including over-the-counter healthcare 2 and food products to people within minutes.
The logistics industry is steadily realizing the benefits of using robots to support and increase operational and service efficiencies. Increased adoption will drive higher-paying jobs and open positions needed to operate the robots, such as high-tech machine experts, software developers, and control tower or remote operators.
This trend clearly highlights the need for organizations to equip their team members with new skillsets where they operate side by side with robots in the workplace environment.
The increasing adoption of such technologies and innovations is expected to shape the future job market.
Within operations, people and robots can work together in a distribution centre, supporting faster order fulfilment, taking over the least attractive and repetitive tasks.
Robots can sort packages faster and automatically identify packages that need special handling, reducing human intervention.
These advancements allow team members to focus on those tasks that are more engaging and of higher value, thereby increasing productivity and competitiveness.
However, before taking the plunge, implementation readiness must be assessed and objectives for adopting robotics must be clearly defined to better align with the organization’s business goals.
Most importantly, the company’s leadership must ensure that the right work culture exists, one that will embrace an environment where people and machines coexist.
This step will encourage adoption rates, making robots more commonplace in the logistics industry.
According to McKinsey and Company, by 2030, adoption of automation is expected to be higher in the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait than the projected global average of 32 per cent 3 .
So, a future with robots in your workplace and making special deliveries is not far away.