The Wall Street Journal reports that plenty of retailers, warehouses, and logistics companies are gearing up for the holiday season by hiring tens of thousands of human workers. This happens every year, and it really isn’t news. “Surge” workers help out in the holiday season when retail and related industries may see demand increase tenfold.
What’s new? Surge robots. Enterprise-scale companies may need 100,000 seasonal helpers to feed the holiday frenzy, but increasingly they’re also bringing in a few thousand robots.
Some of the surge robots are leased just for the season. Other companies go ahead and do their buying right before Black Friday to make sure they’re ready for peak need.
Nobody is deciding to switch to automated workers as they slip the turkey in the oven. It’s the companies that have already been trying out robots and cobots that ramp up robot investments just in time for pumpkin spice season.
The reasons for the seasonal robots aren’t very different from the year-round reasons for automation.
It’s hard to find workers, for one thing. Unemployment is low and warehousing isn’t everyone’s dream job.
Surge workers are often older people who have more-or-less retired but like to take on some holiday work. Older workers are often skilled and reliable. They’re willing to do customer service from home or to work long retail hours for a few weeks.
At the same time, older workers are more likely to have physical limitations compared with younger ones. Having robots to do the physically taxing tasks makes it more practical for employers to hire experienced workers with unreliable knees.
Consumers are also demanding faster delivery, requiring greater productivity. On-time delivery around the holidays is always touch and go. Automation makes it easier.
Automation makes your life easier, too. When you need service or support for Rexroth machinery, we can make your life even easier. Call us first.