Robotic Piece Picking: A Labor Shortage Solution for Distribution Centers

Three major trends are directly impacting picking functions in modern warehouses:

- The need for accuracy of order fulfillment: Orders that are filled inaccurately due to human error, carelessness, or fatigue create added costs in the restocking of items and/or loss of asset inventory for items not returned. Even more so, an inaccurate order can create frustration for consumers and a loss of their confidence in the retailer. - The speed of the order fulfillment: Shorter delivery times in e-Commerce order fulfillment have made it common for consumers to now expect next day (and even same day) delivery. This has added a new level of competitive pressure to increase the speed of order fulfillment in warehouse operations. - The shortage of qualified & reliable labor: These warehouses face a shrinking labor pool as fewer workers choose jobs involving repetitive tasks and uncomfortable working conditions. High turnover rates & absenteeism result in lost productivity and increased costs for training replacements. Wages in general are rising, especially for the type of labor required in this industry. Insurance and worker compensation expenses only add to the payroll cost.

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