The article by Kitroeff (2016) discusses the issue of the use of manual and automated labor in such an industry as storage and delivery. It is stated that, in spite of the fact that warehouses promised to create a large number of new workplaces several years ago, nowadays the growth of the quantity of the vacancies in these companies has reduced greatly, even though numerous new locations and facilities are constantly opened. For instance, the number of people working for Californian warehouses increased by 2,800 individuals, or by 3%, during the period starting in October 2015 and ending in October 2016; this growth of the number of workplaces is very slow when compared to the increase of 12,200, which corresponds to 14% growth, during the period starting in October 2014 and ending in October 2015 (Kitroeff, 2016). It is pointed out that the dramatic decrease in the numbers of individuals required for performing the tasks in warehouses is rather likely to make the problem of unemployment considerably more difficult to address; not only fewer people will be needed, but those who are required will probably have to do less unqualified labor.
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The number of new people hired to carry out tasks in warehouses reduced so dramatically due to the fact that warehouse companies now widely utilize the innovative technologies and mechanisms in order to carry out the tasks which were previously done by the representatives of the blue-collar professions. It is stressed that using machines and automatons so as to perform these tasks allows for considerably increasing the effectiveness and efficacy of performance – that is, the work is done much more quickly, and doing it costs significantly less (Kitroeff, 2016). For instance, a conveyor in one of the companies which are given as an example used to require 10 laborers in order to operate properly; a standard task of packing would take a number of hours to be finished. Nowadays, when the new mechanisms have been introduced, only three workers are needed so as to complete the same procedure, and the process of doing so only requires less than an hour before it is finished (Kitroeff, 2016).
On the whole, the process of working in warehouses is stated to have undergone a significant change (Kitroeff, 2016). In the past, workers were needed so as to carry out manual labor, such as unpacking and packing boxes, putting things in boxes, moving boxes around the facility, and so on; in contrast to that, in today’s considerably more advanced facilities, employees very often simply need to oversee the process of retrieving, unpacking, packing, and storing, which is done mostly by machines. Thus, the personnel of the warehouses very often spend most of their time working in front of computers. It should be noted that such staff members are paid more than the minimal wage that is often given to those who do the manual labor, which is clearly positive. Nevertheless, it is noted that the “old-fashion” workers who pack and unpack things are still needed in many facilities, although they receive assistance from machines that e.g. give them the exact amount of tape needed. And still, it is pointed out that even though there are a plenty of such workers in warehouses today, this situation is bound to change as the use of machines becomes more widespread in the industry, and the machines themselves become capable of doing more and more tasks with each passing day (Kitroeff, 2016).
Kitroeff, N. (2016). Warehouses promised lots of jobs, but robot workforce slows hiring. Web.