Only 40% of companies see logistics value of robotization and AI

robotization and AI

Just 40% of the manufacturing, wholesale, large-scale retail and transport & logistics companies who see room for improvement in their logistics processes believe that robotization and artificial intelligence (AI) can add value. These findings come from research by CLS iMation, which focuses on intelligent solutions for logistics automation.

Notably, older respondents tend to see less added value in robotization and AI, whereas respondents under the age of 40 are big fans. According to the researchers, a higher rate of acceptance would be desirable, not least due to the ever-increasing labour shortage in the logistics sector. Robotics and AI can play an important role in improving the efficiency of logistics processes.

The study also shows that, across all age groups, a quarter of those surveyed feel that they lack sufficient knowledge of robotization and AI. “This reveals a key information gap. The current labour shortage is significantly increasing the workload, so this is an important argument for people to rapidly embrace these more efficient working methods,” states Michele Calabrese, head of CLS iMation. There is a correlation between the respondent’s age and their reluctance to accept robotization and AI. The main reasons for currently resisting robotization and AI include “Our work still needs to be done by people” and “It doesn’t fit with our organization”.

Robotization considerations

Companies work with a number of criteria when they are considering robotization. For the respondents, the biggest consideration is the safety of employees working with ‘automated colleagues’. Other important issues are service and maintenance of the equipment, and the flexibility of the system. Moreover, it must be possible to scale up, and to implement the equipment in the logistics process quickly.

Almost half of the respondents agree that an app which allows easy real-time insight into the complete logistics process would add value, since it would allow rapid intervention. Once again, though, the respondent’s age is a factor, with older respondents less likely to see the added value of this.

Simulation tool prevents downtime

In his role as a consultant, Calabrese is in day-to-day contact with industry professionals and is not surprised by the results of the survey. “People have often been working in the same way for years. Despite the fact that they want to improve, their ingrained procedures – often in combination with insufficient knowledge – can be a major obstacle to deploying robotization and AI. People are afraid that changes will jeopardize the continuity of the logistics process and that they will lose the overview,” Calabrese says.

“That’s why we, as consultants, need to clearly explain what is going to happen. In particular, we need to reassure people that their processes won’t come to a standstill during implementation. We have developed a Simulation as a Service tool for this purpose, which enables us to visualize the current processes and the interaction between existing systems. Then, we can develop and test robotization and AI solutions without disrupting ongoing processes. This allows the customer to make informed and carefully considered decisions.”