The future is here. Those nerdy movies and sci-fi Shows might have been right after all. The robots are taking over.
The Changying Precision Technology Company factory in Dongguan city, located in the central Guangdong province of China, is running a company running almost exclusively by robots and getting fascinating results.
The technology company has set up automated production line that uses robotics arms to produce parts of cell phones. The factory also has automated machining equipment, autonomous transport trucks, and other automated equipment in the warehouse. Its employee strength has fallen by a stunning 90%.
But the company has not completely done away with its human workers. There are three workers who are in charge of monitoring the production line and a bunch of technical staff who work in front of computers and monitor the goings on through a central control system. Earlier 650 employees used to work at the factory, but after robots taking over most of their jobs, the number has now been reduced to 60. One robot arm can replace 6 to 8 workers. The General Manager of the company, Luo Weiqiang, said that the number of workers could drop to 20 in the near future.
And the robots have picked up the mantle well. Data at the Dongguan factory shows that since the robots arrived, the defect rate of products has dropped from over 25 per cent to less than 5 per cent and the production capacity has increased from 8,000 pieces to 21,000 pieces.
Southern China seems to be at the forefront of this move towards robotization. The Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology factory, also based in Dongguan region, started a similar effort in May 2015 and aims to replace 90% of its workforce to robots in near future. The shift to automation has been adopted by many companies, including Foxconn – the controversial gadget manufacturing company, which started the robot initiative back in 2011. The government has stepped in too, and is actively subsidizing investments in robots.
India’s taking baby steps too
That’s right. These robot armies aren’t just confined to China, but are finding their mechanical feet in India as well. Amazon already deploys robots in its warehouses in the US, and Flipkart is following suit. To optimize its supply chains, Flipkart is looking at robotics to improve efficiency in its 13 warehouses in India. The plan is currently at the experimentation phase and involves robot workers who would move packages around in warehouses. The robots will bring the items to the dispatch area faster than human workers and cut down dispatch and delivery time, said Rahul Chari, Flipkart’s vice president of engineering. However it’s still a challenge to predict how much time it will take to package and dispatch, he admitted.
Although Flipkart is yet to apply the robotics workforce in full swing, robots in warehouses trend is soon to catch up. And the brain behind this is Gurgaon based startup Grey Orange Robotics. Grey Orange builds robots that operate in the warehouses of retail, logistics, and ecommerce companies with the goal of enabling quicker deliveries and minimal errors.
The startup has manufactured three types of robots to minimize human intervention in warehouses and logistics. They are the profiler, sorter and butler. The profiler is a high-speed dynamic dimension and weighing machine, the sorter segregates items based on a pre-defined logic faster than humans and the butler is a storage and retrieval robot. Apart from Flipkart, Grey Orange is currently working with Delhivery, DTDC, Aramax, and Kerry Logistics.