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Supply Chain Industry Updates

Honeywell Study Suggests Automation Creates New Jobs

Outrider says its autonomous vehicles work in concert to perform tasks in distribution center yards. (Image: Outrider)

Looking for more evidence that automation continues to make inroads into logistics hubs? A new report and a major funding announcement, both revealed this week, made clear the trend continues as businesses seek greater efficiencies.

The study released yesterday by Honeywell also found that two out of three companies expected automation will lead to job creation, particularly for in-house maintenance roles.

“E-commerce and e-retail fulfillment growth are pushing traditional warehouses and distribution centers to their limits, and automation is critical to any operation that wants to remain competitive,” said Christine Feuell, Honeywell Intelligrated chief marketing officer. “These automation and robotics advancements are shifting the workforce away from physically demanding, strenuous and monotonous tasks to more skilled tasks.”

Honeywell said 65% of companies planned to increase their investments in automation in the next two to three years, with the pandemic making this transition a higher priority for many. Most reported that they were investing in automated material handling systems including robotics, automated storage and retrieval systems, conveyors and sortation systems.

Today, yard automation company Outrider announced it had closed $65 million in Series B funding, meaning it now was “positioned to scale and support the rapid automation of distribution yards.”

Outrider’s system integrates management software, autonomous electric vehicles and site infrastructure. It moves trailers around the distribution yard, hitches and unhitches them, robotically connects and disconnects trailer brake lines, inventories trailer locations and centrally monitors and controls all functions, the company said.

In addition to bringing efficiency improvements, Outrider said its system reduces emissions. “Across the industry, supply chain leaders are eager to reduce the carbon footprint of their logistics operations,” founder and CEO Andrew Smith said in a statement. “Since the founding of our company, we designed our system to run on electric yard truck platforms instead of diesel trucks, resulting in the accelerated replacement of these carbon-emitting trucks.”