The transport and logistics industry has been working on automating its processes for years. There are numerous forces that drive this ongoing automation. Products need to be delivered faster than ever. To keep up with competition, companies need to continuously improve efficiency and reduce costs. Is the use of robots, thus robotics, the next phase in the ever continuing process of increasing efficiency and decreasing costs? Robotics have the potential to create a low-cost-workforce. Sounds ideal, but is it really that perfect?
Benefits of robotics in the logistics industry
Robotics are a completely different kind of workforce. To compare, the average costs of a human operator in the Eurozone averages EURO 15 per hour (which rises to EURO 20 and higher in Belgium and the Netherlands), while the estimated hourly cost of a robot (maintenance included) currently averages EUR 18-20/hour (source: Of Robots and Men – In Logistics – Roland Berger). Does that mean robots are not a smart investment? No. By 2020, the investment and operating costs of robots will be lower than manual labour costs.
Robots in use
Truck unloading and random-case depalletizing are examples of robotics already widely used. When trucks are standing still they are not making any money so the more efficient the freight can be transferred, the more cost-efficient an organization can operate. Get the truck back on the road!
So robots can make the job more efficient and decrease costs, but just as humans they can make mistakes to.
1,5 million jobs lost
Robotics in the logistics industry will lead to a destruction of 1,5 million jobs in the Eurozone in the next 10 years, states research agency Roland Berger in their research report “Of Robots and Men”. However, developments such as these have been seen in previous industrial revolutions. Over the past decades, automation has improved productivity, increased export volumes and decreased workplace accidents.
So, robotics will initially lead to a destruction of jobs. Is that a bad thing? Depends who you ask. In the end, the developments in automated processes increase the amount of productivity and export volumes. DKV, as a thought leader, is always looking for developments in the market in order to keep our customer informed and up-to-date.
What are your thoughts on the use of robotics in the transport & logistics industry?