The United Parcel Service (UPS) has opened its largest warehouse to date and is looking at hiring 3,000 robots to help run the 20-acre facility. The $79 million warehouse is located on the outskirts of Louisville, Kentucky, and will be primarily housing robots to fulfill automated package-handling tasks and warehouse jobs.
UPS foresees that hiring 3,000 robots would provide an advanced level of automation that helps reduce the need for manual labor. They expect that hiring these robots would also mean that the warehouse can run with roughly 200 human workers, which can still increase over time.
Perhaps the decision to hire 3,000 robots was catapulted after UPS experienced an 11% increase in sales in the first nine months of this year thus, needing more “manpower”. Bill Seward, president of UPS Supply Chain Solutions, also mentioned that the logistics business of UPS now has twice the operating margin as its typical competitors. While he did not provide an exact number for this, one may assume that this also played a role in the employment of robots.
Needless to say, hiring 3,000 robots is a move to provide better service to customers while helping out human workers. “It’s a linchpin of our strategy. It’s important to be able to deliver best-in-class cost and best-in-class service for your customers.”, said Seward. They also reported that the robots help increase worker retention by about 30% and reduce warehouse-related injuries by 40%.
A similar strategy of hiring robots was done by Amazon when the company rolled out the new robotics system Sequoia. The robotics system helped cut Amazon’s fulfillment time by 25% and accelerated product locating and storage speed by 75%.
Aside from UPS and Amazon, we can expect more companies to hire and integrate robots in their work chains because of the good results they are showing, how accessible they are becoming, and the growing market demand.