MIT Technology Review
Will Douglas Heaven
In a warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey, a handful of people stand around the base of a white box as big as a house. Every few seconds a plastic bin emerges from an opening in its sleek walls. Someone reaches in and grabs an item of lingerie or swimwear, and then the bin is gone again—whisked back inside the box to be restacked among 33,000 others arranged in row upon row of floor-to-ceiling towers.
On top of the box, 73 robots crisscross the grid like giant bees tending a honeycomb. Working together, they move the bins around nonstop, accessing specific items and delivering them to the people on the outside. On a busy day, these robots churn through 20,000 online orders, 80% of which are placed via smartphones.
A growing number of retailers are turning to this kind of automation to out-compete their rivals. Robots keep costs down and make order fulfillment quicker and more accurate. Now, given a series of lockdowns that could go on for months or even years, this kind of small-scale automation could be key if retailers are to survive. This is true not only for smaller firms looking to keep up but also for big, established players, who are seeing their business model shift by the week. The way we shop is changing: the future of retail automation is smaller, closer to home, and more flexible. (Full Article)
Robotics and Automation
Successful companies readily acknowledge one key factor contributing to their achievements – hardworking, committed and skilled employees who are the foundation of the companies.
However, manufacturers today face the primary challenge of filling open positions with skilled workers, which in turn affects overall productivity and growth. (Full Article)
Diane DiEuliis, Peter Emanuel, James Giordano and Alexander Titus
A common expression heard in the military is, “we are always fighting the last war.” In the face of global response to the COVID-19 crisis, the “last war” was the influenza pandemic of 1918.
Although history provides invaluable lessons, it is vital to re-contextualize the issues, problems and solutions of the past in light of the circumstances, capabilities and complexities of the present. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a dilemma of ensuring public safety and health, while simultaneously attempting to stabilize and sustain the economy.
Meanwhile, demonstrably beneficial, available advanced technologies are not being fully utilized to maximize ethically sound, effective and efficient approaches to reducing the pandemic burden and its effects. If there was ever a time to put such tools to use, it is now. (Full Article)