The Evolution of Automation: Building Collaboration Between Robots and People

In his latest column for Forbes, Lior Elazary, Co-founder and CEO at inVia Robotics, discusses “The Psychology Behind Warehouse Automation,” as part of the broader evolution of modern automation, in which robots and warehouse employees work in closer collaboration. The full article appears here.

The pandemic has radically shaped the way many companies approach work. Many adopted remote working, but others looked to automation to help enhance work environments.

Modern automation brings together robotics and people to optimize what each does best.

It allows people to work in bursts, add variety to their workdays and address higher-level work decisions. Robots can do what they do best, perform mundane and repetitive tasks.

There are certain psychological factors at play too. Humans are wired to perform a task in a burst, before beginning to either think about another topic or get pulled by something that catches their eye. We like variety in our day, which may involve a repetitive activity along with larger problem-solving tasks. Traditional automation requires a monotonous fixation on executing a certain task over and over. People can’t and don’t want to keep up with the rote demands of traditional automation.

Newer industrial automation systems assess what people do best and where robots fit in.

The daily operations in warehouse facilities are walking, picking and packing. Walking (or wheeling) is a simple task that people can perform, but when that constant repetition becomes too much, it often leads to injuries, boredom or a combination of both. Robots are great at repeatedly moving between two or more points using a defined path. Today’s robotic systems leverage the strengths of industrial robots and workers. Robots handle long “walks” while workers are key in on value-added activities like inventory level management and packing.

This blend of human collaboration with flexible automation technology keeps productivity high and supports workers.

inVia has developed a wide range of solutions to help pickers exert less energy and socialize more with colleagues. Today’s warehouse automation tools move away from robots waiting on workers and create healthy buffers between machine and people labor. This collaboration has helped foster a greater sense of community, allowing workers to work more socially, which ultimately leads to a better, more efficient work environment.

Read the entire Forbes article here.

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