Robots are changing the material handling industry. Most managers and executives are keenly aware of the critical need for technology in this industry. Without forklifts, conveyors and other equipment, the ability to meet customer demand would come to a standstill.

Material handling must include collaborative robots as part of the technology arsenal that moves production.The new additions to your team are robots as a service (RaaS), called cobots – collaborative robots that automate processes, work with people and improve safety.

As the Association for Advancing Automation points out, “Just like human-robot collaboration is helping democratize robotics, RaaS will help bring robots to the masses. And cobots aren’t the only robots for rent. Whether you have a short-term need, want to try before you buy, forgo a capital expenditure, or lower your cost of entry to robotic automation, RaaS is worth a closer look. It’s robots on demand, when and where you want them.”

Robots are in warehouses and shop-floors

Cobots are becoming a significant presence in American warehouse management, shop-floor operation and field operations, and they are causing industry leaders to rethink workflow and staffing needs.

Rented cobots are often “out of the box ready,” and so they address many of the issues launched by the pandemic and Great Recession, including:

  • Increased labor shortages

  • Highly competitive markets

  • A push toward automation

Cobots provide companies with try-it-before-you-buy-it options that are easy to employ. There’s no capital expense, and cobots can be swapped for other models based on need.

Although there have been concerns about training, cultural issues, and justifying the expense of cobots, RaaS is here to stay.

Cobots require excellent human capital staffing.

More than half of the companies in the material handlers industry plan to incorporate cobots in their production solutions within the next three years if they have not already done so.

What does that mean for leaders heading the material handling industry?

The answer lies in redefining job responsibilities and hiring tech-savvy workers who can work alongside the cobots. There may be a time when companies no longer need pickers, sorters and transporters. Rote work will become a thing of the past, and recruiters will help companies find employees who can evaluate and synthesize information about the work.

The ability to realize an ROI on incorporating cobots into any facet of the materials handling industry depends not on the cobots, but the people hired to oversee their work.


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