Why robots cannot replace people at factories and warehouses

2017-05-11

Why robots cannot replace people at factories and warehouses

Total automation provokes unemployment – that’s how many articles are headed today. But is that the case? The practice shows that it is not. Of course, robots actively replace some workers of plants and warehouses. But there are no solutions in the market that allow totally automating the manufacturing process. Therefore, people should learn to interact with robots rather than fear them.

Factories feature different levels of automation. The most common solution is the integration of the simplest robotic stacking cranes, elevator racks and other stationary machines that perform the hardest operations.

The next stage of automation implies the use of AGV machinery or non-stationary machines: steered bogies, robotic cars, robotic loaders, etc. The examples of such robots are Amazon Robotics and Magazino Toru Cube.

Также существуют более продвинутые решения, например, роботизированная система склада Symbotic. Здесь практически все задачи выполняют роботы, однако склад нужно полностью переоборудовать. Естественно, система недешёвая – её внедрение обойдётся до $80 миллионов.

There are also more advanced solutions, for example, a robotic warehouse system called Symbotic. Almost all tasks are performed by robots, but you will have to completely refit your warehouse. Naturally, the system is not cheap, it will cost up to $80 million to integrate it.

Let’s talk about software now. Smarter systems not just automate a range of tasks, but allow optimizing operation, reducing costs and saving huge sums annually. Today, many market players use the Warehouse Management System (WMS). It helps to substantially increase labor efficiency. But even it has already reached its full potential. Therefore, companies turned to more intelligent solutions that use artificial intelligence technologies.

Currently, the market offers few neural network products intended to optimize warehouse operations as far as the industry is rather young. Among the available products, Zalando project that deploys Nvidia solutions is worthy of attention. The technology finds optimal routes for warehouse workers, enabling to increase the speed and efficiency of their performance.

Experts say that it is important to create a global warehouse management system using artificial intelligence technologies. In fact, artificial intelligence should fulfill the tasks of over industrial consulting. Neural networks will learn using huge data arrays, build patterns of processes, predict the possible outcome of events and find the most favorable solutions in any situation. Unfortunately, meanwhile, such projects have not been realized.

Thus, robots cannot fully replace people at factories and warehouses, as the existing artificial intelligence technologies are too expensive and incomplete. But the combination of robotic and human labor allows achieving excellent results. Up-to-date smart machines can easily do hard physical work, routine tasks, as well as improve the productivity of workers, helping them to achieve higher effectiveness under minor load.

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