The question around automation within logistics and the supply chain is certainly a topic on everyone’s mind, but the future of the supply chain is definitely still open to debate. It’s no secret that logistics is greeting most technological innovations with open arms – after all, anything that makes it a more seamless and faster process is certainly a good thing – but full automation of the supply chain isn’t quite as widely accepted. For those working in this industry, the automation vs manual debate is an ongoing one, and so we’re trying our hand at exploring the debate for ourselves.
What Could We See?
If automation were to take over the logistics industry, we could see improvements and changes across the entire process. Anything from admin to warehouse activity could be automated using process machinery, and with the increased understanding and development surrounding artificial intelligence, these robotics could even have something called machine learning. Machine learning gives computer systems – and robots – the ability to learn and ultimately improve upon a process they are already doing. In other words, they could learn when something goes wrong so it doesn’t happen again, or pick up patterns to improve the way that they complete their tasks. In the warehouse, this could mean increased speed of deliveries, accurate stock checks and so much more without any need for algorithm changes or human interaction – in other words, the process would became automatic and automated.
Is It Dangerous?
Of course, handing over the entire process to a machine can sound like a terrifying thing to do. We’ve seen the movies, we’ve heard of freak accidents and of course, accidents will always happen. However, these intelligent systems can often make things safer than if they were being completed by humans. After all, take out the human, and human error no longer becomes an issue. By embracing automation rather than fearing it, we can put more energy into developing these technologies and ultimately speeding up and improving the entire chain.
What About Jobs?
The big question, of course, is whether or not jobs will be at risk should we bring automation into the supply chain. While certain jobs would be at risk with the introduction of this kind of technology into the workplace, human interaction wouldn’t be removed completely. In fact, while a machine can certainly learn and become intelligent, there will still be a need for humans.
Better yet, skilled professionals can take themselves away from the mundane everyday back-office activities and put all of their attention and energy into other activities that a robot may not actually be able to do for themselves.
While automation is certainly something to be considered and will definitely be used in the supply chain in the future – after all, it already is! – it’s not something to run away from. The increased efficiency of all kinds of processes could mean a faster delivery service, an escape from tedious data-entry jobs for skilled staff, and a much better supply chain as a whole.
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