Lead Forensics

Robotics firm: Fully automatic warehouses could be decades away

The CEO of Fetch Robotics, Melonee Wise, has predicted that it will be many years decades until robot systems replace all human warehouse workers.

Wise is a technologist who knows that current robot technology has limitations and robots are not yet ready to take over all warehouse jobs. Fetch Robotics is focused on warehouses and fulfilment centres for online orders.

Wise says that many young people do not want warehouse jobs, and older workers will soon retire, leaving many unfilled jobs. The solution, according to Wise, is to make warehouses more efficient with robotic automation that means fewer workers are required. She says:

“The challenge that a lot of our customers have is they can’t fill these jobs, and they still need to increase the efficiency of their operations to meet the increased demand that they’re seeing. So, they need robotic automation.”

Fetch robots work alongside humans. A mobile system carries goods and follows humans around who place items from shelves onto the mobile carriers. Robots minimise the amount of heavy labour in warehouse jobs, helping workers find, move and track items. A warehouse equipment supplier is still needed to supply the racking systems and some manual moving processes require heavy duty warehouse trolleys.

In areas where robots work with humans, safety is a priority. Fetch robots have sensors that prevent collisions so that they can work safely beside people, forklifts and manual handling equipment.

To meet the demands of online customers for quick and efficient order processing, warehouses are expected to need more automated systems in the future.

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