Case made for choosing human pickers over robots

Gabe Grifoni of Rufus Labs has made the case for humans being better than robots at warehouse picking.

Many predict that robots will take over human jobs in the warehouse, but Grifon has argued in an article for Multichannel Merchant that robots are too costly and are less efficient than humans.

It is estimated that picking order items accounts for around 55% of warehouse costs. For customer satisfaction, it is essential that picking is done efficiently, accurately and quickly. Robots may seem the answer for more productivity, but the reality is that robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are good for processing numbers or playing chess, but they are not good at fine manipulation. For example, opening a jar of jam, picking out a pen amongst a drawer of pencils or picking up a thin wine glass without damaging it are easy tasks for humans, but at present are beyond the capability of many robots.

Some companies have developed robots that can pick individual items from totes, but they are not as accurate as humans. The human hand is complex, and robotic hands don’t possess the same sensitivity or dexterity.

Amazon has pioneered the use of warehouse robots, but it still relies on humans for many picking processes. In his article, Grifoni says:

“Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, a future where robots replace humans in the supply chain is a lot further away than we think.”

The warehouse trolley supplier and the human warehouse picker remain essential for the operation of a productive warehouse.

Posted by Mark
6th December 2021
Retail & Warehousing

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