Employee Safety Is Improved With The Benefit Of Automated Dispensing Systems
Research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts that approximately 1.2 advanced robots will be deployed in the U.S. by the year 2025, resulting in roughly a quarter of all industrial operations becoming fully automated. Many of those operations that will not be fully automated will selectively automate various functions to suit their needs.
BCG also predicts the amount of installed robots will increase by 10% annually to reach 4 million by 2025, a sharp increase from the 1.4 million industrial robots in use around the world today.
There are many benefits to automated handling systems in industrial operations, including reduced costs, increased accuracy, and improved efficiency, to name a few. But one of the most important benefits – safety – can often be overlooked as companies consider the broader implications of automation used to boost productivity and improve the bottom line.
Let’s take a look at automated dispensing systems in particular, and explore the ways they help to promote safer working conditions in industrial operations:
Decreased Risk of Injury
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the U.S. warehousing and storage industry reported a total recordable rate of 5.2 injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2013, resulting in days away from work, job restrictions, and/or transfers.
On top of that, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, which include anything from muscle strains and lower back injuries to carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis, occurred twice as frequently in the warehousing industry as in general private industry.
In such industries, good ergonomics can reduce physical strain on the body (i.e., floor-level lifting, stretching to reach loads above or below arm level, bending over for long periods of time, etc.). But automated systems can decrease or eliminate the risk of worker injury in the first place.
SI Systems’ Mobile-Matic portable A-Frame dispenser, ideal for seasonal product runs and high volume pick operations, relieves pressure from manual picking operations, freeing up labor resources for more value-added positions in the warehouse. What’s more, it is easily integrated into existing conveyors or small workstations, making it a flexible, ergonomically-friendly solution that can make pick operations faster and more efficient.
Worker Redeployment & Engagement
When automated dispensing systems can do the work of multiple employees, it not only increases efficiency but also puts workers out of harm’s way and allows them to focus on more challenging work. In essence, automation opens up the opportunity for employees to work in jobs that require imagination, adaptability, and decision-making skills.
Think of it this way: Instead of focusing on repetitive, strenuous, and potentially dangerous work, employees can learn new skills and work in positions that are more satisfying and fulfilling to them.
The end result?
Happier, more productive employees and a more efficient warehouse operation overall.
But it doesn’t end there: Countless research studies have shown the relationship between worker health and workplace engagement. Specifically, “highly-engaged workplaces outperform those with low-level engagement across a whole range of metrics including workforce retention, absenteeism, collaboration, innovation, and overall productivity levels,” notes one blog post illustrating that employee health and engagement often go hand-in-hand.
For industrial organizations, automated solutions such as mobile dispensing systems can allow companies to focus on talent investment, fostering roles that promote employee health and safety while, at the same time, driving workplace engagement.
In the years to come, the question won’t be “Is your company automating operations?” but instead “How is your company automating operations?” Automation doesn’t just lead to increased efficiency, reduced costs, more flexibility and scalability, and fewer errors, however – it’s also one of the best ways to improve employee safety in industrial operations.
As noted above, automated dispensing systems can be the answer to decreasing or oftentimes eliminating workplace injuries, as well as redeploying workers to areas of the warehouse where they’ll be safer, more productive, and more fulfilled in their work.
What has been your company’s experience with automated dispensing systems? How have you seen them improve employee health and safety?
Scott Stone is the Director of Marketing for Cisco-Eagle, Inc., a provider of integrated material handling and storage systems for industrial operations. Scott has 25 years of experience in industrial operations and marketing.