Technology is a wonderful thing that provides people around the world with unsurpassed convenience. For many business owners, investing in technology that supports automation saves money in the long run and even improves the overall margin for error in many situations. In fact, experts predict that automation will continue to change the fulfillment industry in many ways over the next several years.
Faster Order Preparation
Automation is one of the best and fastest ways to prepare orders for shipment, and with each passing year, more and more ecommerce-based businesses incorporate it into their warehouses. For example, Amazon utilizes robotic drive units that build entire shelves out of pods. Then, when an employee packs an order for shipment, the technology tells the pod corresponding with the item on the order to light up. These smart robots save employees a great deal of time, and it is one of the many unique ways in which Amazon can fulfill a million orders in a single facility within a 24-hour timeframe.
Automation and Machine Learning Make a Great Pair
Not only is automation speeding up order processing, but it’s also learning from employees. In fact, there are companies out there building smart robots designed specifically for the warehousing industry. These robots utilize state-of-the-art AI tech that process bits of data and effectively “learn” while they work. In the beginning, an employee controls the robot remotely, telling it where to go and what to do. Ultimately, the more the employee trains the robot, the more it learns. Inevitably, these robots will be able to go out into the warehouse on their own.
Robots Can Even Complete Deliveries
There’s a shipping war going on right now with each major ecommerce platform vying to be the fastest and the best. In fact, many of the companies consumers utilize every day now offer same-day shipping, sometimes even in an hour or less depending on that customer’s location relative to the warehouse. Though robots are not handling deliveries on a large scale just yet, there are companies putting the notion that robots could improve last-mile deliveries a great deal in the future. For now, they are limited to small-scale jobs – delivering pizzas, document couriers, and more. Eventually, you might see dozens of robots on the city streets delivering packages alongside USPS, UPS, FedEx, and others.
Robots Can Even Do the Order Picking
Of all the cool things that automation can do to change the fulfillment industry, this one seems to generate the most awe among consumers. In a Florida grocery chain known as Sedano’s, consumers can go online, place their entire grocery orders, and then pick those orders up three hours later. Though this may not seem like something new since almost every major grocer offers pickup services these days, Sedano’s does it differently. Instead of hiring more employees to go out into the store and pick the customers’ grocery orders, they’ve put robots to work picking the ordered items.
Order fulfillment has come a long way in the last several years, and as ecommerce continues to grow, engineers and developers will work even harder to help automate processes to save businesses time and money. Not only does automation save ecommerce-based businesses time and money, but it also makes things more convenient and affordable for consumers at the end of the day, too.