In an interview with WCPN’s IdeaStream, Weatherhead’s Sayan Chatterjee talks about the impact of robotic technology on warehouse jobs in response to news of new Amazon fulfillment center in Cleveland.
Amazon estimates its new fulfillment center opening in 2019 in Euclid, OH, will add 1,000 new jobs to Cleveland’s economy. However, with the emergence of robots that can quickly pluck items from shelves at opposite ends of sprawling warehouse floors, will the need for human packers become diminished?
Sayan Chatterjee, Weatherhead School of Management professor in the Department of Design & Innovation, weighed in on the topic in an interview on WCPN’s IdeaStream, excerpted below:
Sayan Chatterjee, a professor who studies business innovation at Case Western Reserve University, said as the company faces growing competition from Walmart and other retailers, Amazon will be forced to cut costs. In part, that means finding ways to automate the work that's currently being done by people. Still, he says there are certain tasks, like packing delicate items, that people still do better.
"You have to ensure that the product doesn't break, or it doesn't spill, and that may be difficult for robots to understand."
So, when it comes to vases and bottles of shampoo, chalk one up for humans.
But Chatterjee says that could change as the technology improves. The Amazon warehouse employees with more job security, he said, aren't those working beside the bots, but those who program them.
Listen to the full interview.
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