BOSTON, Mass. — As a record number of Americans are expected to ship packages this holiday season, there's a high-tech push underway to help speed up how those packages are delivered at speeds faster than ever.
"The predictions are by 2024, 50% of all retail sales will come from e-commerce space," said David Wilson the CEO of a company called Columbus McKinnon Corporation.
Columbus McKinnon has spent decades helping to improve the speed at which packages in this country are delivered by working with companies to roll out state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and robotics. Critical at a time when companies are struggling to find workers.
"The availability of good labor for growth is elusive, so you can’t get resources to grow," Wilson said.
With such a labor shortage, more companies are turning to automation in the shipping process. But Wilson says there likely won't be a day when robots are doing all of the work themselves. Instead, he says we should all start getting familiar with a new word: cobots.
"These robots will be working in partnership with intelligent people overseeing activity in the warehouse," he added.
It's something that may sound counterintuitive: adding more robots to the shipping process likely creates more employment opportunities for humans.
"It creates higher-paying, more attractive jobs for workers in an environment that’s stimulating and highly automated," Wilson noted.
At the end of the day, all these robots and artificial intelligence programs will likely improve the speed at which our packages make it to grandma's house. Companies are able to use all of the data robots are collecting in warehouses and analyze it. They can see, for example, which route a robot use most in a day, and then, going forward, make that route more efficient.
"The ability to have something delivered to your door the same day, next day, without having to get into your car and go to five different stores, is something that we'll see much more of."