Increased demand, combined with a declining skillset and an aging workforce is persuading companies to pursue automation technologies.
While some argue that robots present a threat to millions of jobs, those familiar with the supply chain sector know that automation often doesn’t replace humans. The supply chain labor force has dwindled and is facing a major skill shortage. Increases in demand, combined with an aging workforce, means that what was once simply a gap is now becoming a crisis. So instead of taking jobs away from humans, automation technologies are simply filling opportunities that businesses are unable to fill with human labor.
Packing: An Automation Task
Repetitive jobs can be easily replicated by machines, so tasks surrounding the picking and packing of items have many e-commerce, third party logistics and distribution companies experimenting with automation technologies. One of the newest technologies speaks to the process of packing items, a staple in warehouse environments. While there are many ways to pack a box for delivery, 3D (dimensional) automated packing is quickly becoming a front-runner.
What is 3D Automated Packing?
As described in Outbound Shipping – Ways to Gain Efficiency, 3D automated packing allows one laborer to place item(s) of an order onto a conveyer that feeds into an automated packing machine. The machine will then take a 3D scan of the order profile and then build, fold, tape and label each parcel in one seamless process. Keep in mind that when this machine takes a 3D scan of the order, it builds a fit-to-size box perfectly around the item(s), decreasing the length, width and height of the corrugate.
The best part is that just one of these machines usually replaces 7-10 packing stations. That's an 88% savings in packing labor. It only takes one person to run a 3D automated packing machine and only a few seconds for each order to be processed and ready to go.
Not only does automated packing solve the labor shortage issue, it also reduces the length, width and height of each parcel (shipping volume), decreases DIM weight and reduces corrugate consumption and inventory. 3D automated packing solutions also provide a quick return on investment of usually 24 months or less, and often times reaching an ROI in only a few months. Some automated solutions, such as the CVP-500 Automated Packing Solution, even allow for multi-item orders with variable sizes to be boxed into the same parcel and shipped using world class rate shopping software, all in one seamless process.
As the supply chain workforce continues to dwindle and more orders are processed online, the need and competition for warehouse labor increases, too. Rather than waiting for things to get worse and being forced to fix the problem later, why not start investing in automated packing right now?