Rather than using technology to replace human workers, the future of logistics depends on collaboration between humans and robots.
Now in its sixth year, Elevate — HighJump’s annual user conference — has become an, and we quote, “unmissable” industry event. Spanning four action-packed days, Elevate unites 700 supply chain professionals for unparalleled educational trainings, networking opportunities, panel discussions, and brainstorming sessions.
In many ways, 2019 was a big year for us — we received awards and accolades from all across the supply chain and logistics industry. We’re heading into 2020 with a full head of steam, and we’re looking forward to our Elevate Conference where our customers and other conference-goers will get a first look at amazing things to come.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights from the past year:
At the beginning of 2019, I came across an article that was titled "Record Number of Robots Replaced Humans in 2018". Naturally, I clicked on the article to see what this was all about, and quite frankly, came away a bit disappointed. The disappointment was not at the number of robots shipped to North America, which was indeed a record number. What was disappointing was the lack of information about the actual replacement of jobs due to the increased shipments of robots. While the article did a good job of highlighting data published by the Association for Advanced Automation (A3), it lacked drawing any alignment to how this record number of robotic shipments actually impacted employment.
The lack of alignment brings up the question of whether or not there is an actual correlation between jobs and robotics and automation? Clearly there is a correlation, but does this correlation have to be negative? Is it possible that the growth in automation technology is actually helping to create new jobs and opportunities? These are the types of questions we should all be asking ourselves, because the fact is, robotics and automation technology is increasing in its use and we must be preparing for how automation will impact the future of employment. The question is no longer if robotics will become useful in new ways and industries (it is) rather the question is how fast will the growth in the use of robots be and how will this impact economic and employment opportunities.
Although many businesses still feel like robotics are years away from mainstream adoption, vendors aren’t waiting for slow adopters to come around. Shopify’s acquisition of robotics company, 6 River Systems, shows just how fast the warehouse automation landscape can change. This move makes it easier for many online retailers to solve complex eCommerce inventory management challenges, which we’ll dive into in a bit. Sometimes a moving, evolving field might be met with a “wait and see” approach. But, with vendors making adoption easier and more palatable, we expect just the opposite for robotics.
Robotics vendors aren’t getting buzz solely because of the cool factor. As the latest additions to supply chain automation, robotics address the same issues as traditional automation, but in a new way. In short, these solutions add strategic and operational flexibility. Flexibility in overhead costs. Flexibility in resource deployment. Flexibility in warehouse design. Flexibility in growing your business.
At the 2019 Elevate supply chain conference, HighJump CTO Sean Elliott addressed a packed audience, delivering his message on the challenges of the supply chain of the future. “Our technology has to step up,” he said. With a shrinking workforce and increasing pressures from customer expectations, supply chain managers have their work cut out for them.
Maybe it’s the swelling real estate costs forcing you to squeeze value out of every square foot of your facility. Maybe your business outgrew the local labor pool. Or, maybe your customers’ expectations grew beyond the limits of what’s possible in your supply chain operations. Many industry and market drivers continue to push the supply chain community to innovate. For its benefits of labor reduction, process optimization, around-the-clock availability and more, the expanding field of warehouse automation offers the solutions to these challenges.