Despite rising interest in automated truck loading/unloading equipment, adoption has been sluggish to date. There are three reasons for that, experts say.
A near full-employment economy is making it difficult to find warehouse help and driving more companies toward automated solutions that can ease the labor crunch and speed operations throughout the facility. Such solutions are becoming increasingly common for storing and retrieving inventory as well as picking and packing orders, but there's one area of the warehouse where automated equipment is still pretty scarce: the loading dock...
...Such challenges illustrate the difficulty—though not the impossibility—of applying robotic automation to the loading dock, adds Joe Zoghzoghy, chief technology officer for Bastian Solutions, a material handling systems integrator that also develops robotic truck loading and unloading equipment.
"[Robotic loading and unloading] is not a solution that you can provide right away to customers because it's a very complicated setup," he says, emphasizing the need to tailor solutions to different clients and their varying requirements. "[But] a lot of people are trying to figure it out and get it to a point where it can be scaled up. ... There are a lot of challenges, but it's only a matter of time."
The fast pace of advancing technology is helping to move the process forward. As technological capabilities expand and costs come down, designers and engineers have a wider variety of tools at their disposal and can create more flexible, affordable solutions, Zoghzoghy adds.]
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