Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should. Robots Aren't Perfect, But Your Supply Chain
It seems only fitting to interject a counter position right when the logistics and supply chain industry is picking up full steam on the train to automation. Perhaps it’s a bit hypocritical, but all seemingly good and progressive things need to be handled and implemented with care. Certain due processes are required to maximize workflow and seamless efficiency.
There is a certain sense of security woven within a business’s supply chain when cognitive reason and personal interaction still play a role. Humans aren’t perfect, but robots aren’t either.
“Just because you can automate something doesn’t mean you should. There are aspects of supply chain that shouldn’t be automated. You can leverage technology to support things, but there are still humans required in decision making and in some processes.” [John Santagate, Research Director for the Service Robotics Market at IDC]
What happens to a robot in a warehouse if you step in front of it? Short answer, it stops. What then happens if a forklift is left in the path of this robot, inadvertently? Short answer, it stops, and so does the corresponding productivity.
Machine learning, automation, and robotics alike all come with restrictions. While improving productivity and increasing efficiency is vital to scaling a supply chain, we must be hyper aware of the limitations. While the automation trend is most noticeable in warehousing scenarios, there is an obvious ceiling at which a robot is simply incapable, thus confirming their primary production in the form of menial tasks. While this alleviates the workload and allows for the human counterparts to be more effective with primary intention, jumping the gun to complete automation is invariably out of the question for the time being.
The foundation of supply chain management can productively be intertwined with automation, however, exclusivity within the building of processes cannot exist on digitalization alone. Humans remain the best forecasters, planners, and problem solvers.
“You’re always going to need someone who can read a situation and understand social cues…” [Brandon White, Head of Quality and Regulatory Affairs for Kenco Management Services]