Automated workplaces aren’t only a thing of the future — they’re happening right here, right now. While automation can alleviate a lot of different stresses in the workplace and bring a whole host of benefits, there are also some unique concerns to consider. Here’s a quick guide to understanding automation and warehouse safety.
What exactly is automation?
Automation, especially in warehouse environments, can have different meanings. Automation generally refers to the use of predominantly automatic equipment with the goal of improving speed, efficiency, accuracy, reliability, and eventually, savings. So, automation can largely mean the use of robots and robotic equipment.
While this may sound futuristic and exciting, it’s very real, and it’s growing in popularity and accessibility. However, this makes it even more important to be realistic about the bandwidth of your facility before you implement a whole new fleet of automated workers.
After all, it’s your responsibility to watch out for your existing staff and assets. Don’t make the mistake of replacing humans with automated talent before fully understanding some safety concerns that come along with the switch — discussed in the section below.
You may also be interested in our post, Navigating the New Normal for Safety in Manufacturing and Warehousing >>
Warehouse safety concerns in automated environments
As the warehousing industry looks more and more to automate, however, humans are still more skilled and qualified than robots in many respects. Despite the fact that robots will typically always do what they are programmed to, they still break down and need more maintenance than humans. Furthermore, humans are typically more dexterous and have better visual systems than their machine counterparts.
How can you reap the benefits of automation and warehouse safety without falling victim to the main concerns? Our post, 4 Warehouse Safety Tips When Working in Automation, discusses this at length, but here are some key takeaways.
- Keep employee training up-to-date: It’s never a good time to introduce new machinery and technology in your facility if your employees aren’t confident about what you currently have. Always keep your employees’ training up-to-date and be available for ongoing communication.
- Evaluate whether your facility is the right fit: Automated technology can be detrimental if it’s not right for your facility. While it may be tempting to go all-in on a new robot or automated system, take a pause to determine whether this is the right decision. You may be better off waiting on something else.
- Help your robots learn: Robots and automated equipment are nothing without the data we give them. Not to mention, they’ll only improve and adjust to abnormalities and errors if we plan to update them accordingly.
- Use additional safety technology: As automated technology continues to develop, thankfully so do safety enhancements. You can help robots in your facility to better recognize their human counterparts by installing sensors and other instruments.
Safeguarding your warehouse now and in the future
When it comes to coexisting with automated warehouse technology, there are some things you can do to make every adjustment an improvement. Much like improving the safety of your warehouses for human workers, you can also do some of the same things for robots.
- Keep your products organized: Keep your products organized — no matter if they’re loose and large or confined and shrink-wrapped. Having products that jut into flue spaces and aisleways can be a recipe for disaster.
- Maintain clear flue spaces and aisles: Maintaining clear flue spaces and aisles has never been easier with rack safety straps and rack safety nets from Adrian’s Safety Solutions.
- Practice proper forklift operation: When working in a facility already feels like a delicate dance, adding automation further stresses the importance of proper forklift handling. You should always make yourself available to new and current employees for refreshes on training and best practices.
- Boost visibility: Boosting visibility — either for your workers or for any robots you may implement — can be achieved with some creative application of our safety solutions. You can also opt for high-visibility paint or specialized sensors.
If you’d like to learn more about our affordable solutions that are easy to install or how we can better accommodate your facility’s plans for automation, contact us today!
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