No Robot Takeover in the Warehouse!

No Robot Takeover in the Warehouse!

Warehouse workers are quite confident that robots will not replace them … at least, not yet.

Part of their jobs involves precision work that robots do not have the dexterity or range of motion to perform. To warehouse workers, the greatest potential for robots is to assist them with physically demanding or unpleasant tasks.

Supervisory work also seems immune to a robot takeover.  Moreover, the high cost of robots rules out their use in small- to medium-volume operations.

At least for now.

This post is based on the NPR article, ‘Don’t Think a Robot Could Do This’: Warehouse workers aren’t worried for their jobs, by A. Selyukh, January 25, 2018.  

Discussion Questions

1) What is the primary reason warehouse workers feel that their jobs are secure? Should they feel that way?

Guidance: Discuss the present vs. future of robots in warehouses. The robots with which workers are familiar are still unable to do many of the picking and packing tasks they perform. Therefore, their jobs appear to be secure for the time being. However, the development of skilled robots, the need for greater efficiency, and the falling costs may threaten many of those jobs in the Continue reading

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The 26 Second T-Shirt

The 26 Second T-Shirt

September 28, 2017

Title of Article: China Snaps Up America’s Cheap Robot Labor

Author of Article: K. Hamlin

Date of Article: August 30, 2017

Source URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-30/china-snaps-up-america-s-cheap-robot-labor

This BusinessWeek article describes the production of a 33¢ T-shirt by a Chinese company in the United States (US). In early 2018, Tianyuan Garments Co. will open a $20 million factory in Little Rock, Arkansas, using American-made robots which can produce a T-shirt every 26 seconds.

Tianyuan is one of the largest apparel makers supplying major brands worldwide. Rising labor costs in China have made production with robots attractive, and rapid advances in technology have made feasible the complex process of sewing. Further advances in the garment industry are around the corner.

Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for Tianyuan in having a factory overseas.

Could discuss tax cuts, labor costs in the US, fewer workers due to automation, consistency in output, capacity utilization, depreciable assets, capital investment, and currency fluctuation.

2. Develop a plausible worker-machine chart for the Tianyuan factory in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Groups of machines will likely be managed by 1 or 2 workers to ensure the 26 second takt time.  See Softwear Automation’s simulation of a Continue reading

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