US nonprofit think tank The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has called on policymakers in the US government to introduce incentives that will bring more robotics into logistics and e-commerce facilities to address key issues in the sector.
In a new report, it has said more action is needed to drive productivity and address critical labour shortages through automation.
“Firms need to adopt robotics to help workers accomplish more per hour and stay safe while doing so,” said Morgan Stevens, a research assistant at ITIF and author of the report.
“But despite advances in robotics, adoption has been slow because of their cost and how difficult it is to retrofit warehouses with new technology. That’s why Congress and the Biden administration need to step in and support robotics adoption and innovation.
“The warehousing and storage industry needs to improve its productivity through automation, or it will risk delaying growth in the broader wholesale and retail trade sectors to the detriment of producers, consumers and its own workers.”
The report offers an overview of retail e-commerce in the US and the types of logistics facilities that support the e-commerce industry.
Some of the key benefits of automation it outlines include improved worker safety, increased supply-chain resilience and streamlined processes; the publication also examines current robot adoption rate in the warehousing and storage industry.
Other major issues the report addressed included underinvestment in robotics equipment resulting from firms focusing on short-term profitability and the need to support smaller businesses to adopt new technologies.
Its key policy recommendations included tax policies to incentivise investment, prioritising automation in government facilities, modernising safety standards, increasing research funding, creating an advisory committee and building a national robotics awards programme.