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Companies fear automation before they embrace it.

6 Reasons Companies Resist Automation

Hans Dittmar
Jun 27, 2023

Today, more than 80 percent of the warehouses have no automation whatsoever. A staggering number want automation and understand the benefits but are unsure how to adopt the available technology.

There can be several reasons why companies may be resistant to implementing autonomous robots in their facilities. Here are 6 of the most common factors:

  1. Cost
    Implementing autonomous robots often requires a significant investment in terms of acquiring the robots themselves, integrating them into existing systems, and training employees to work with them. For some companies, the upfront costs may be prohibitive or may not offer an immediate return on investment. See our blog post "8 Critical Steps to a Successful Autonomous Robotics Implementation" to see how daunting it might be to implement and support automation using a typical robotic setup.
  2. Workforce concerns
    Introducing autonomous robots into the workforce may raise concerns among employees about potential job losses or the need to acquire new skills. Companies may be concerned about disruption - perceived or real - of their existing workforce or face additional resistance from employees who fear automation will replace their jobs. 
  3. Complexity and integration
    Deploying autonomous robots in a facility requires careful planning, integration with existing systems, and often modifications to the physical environment. This complexity can be a deterrent for companies that may not have the necessary expertise or resources to successfully implement and manage autonomous robots.
  4. Reliability and safety concerns
    Autonomous robots need to be highly reliable and operate safely in a dynamic environment. Companies are generally - and should be - conservative about adding the potential risks associated with robots malfunctioning or causing accidents that could harm employees or damage equipment.
  5. Regulatory and legal considerations
    The introduction of autonomous robots may involve compliance with specific regulations and safety standards. Companies might be hesitant to navigate complex legal frameworks or uncertainties regarding liability in case of accidents or errors caused by autonomous systems.
  6. Cultural and organizational factors
    Resistance to change within the company culture or resistance from management can hinder the implementation of automation, especially in the case of autonomous robots. Some companies may have traditional or date approaches to operations and may be reluctant to embrace new technologies. This is often contrary to the desires of the management team, who often see the potential return on investment from the automation.

It's worth noting that while there may be resistance, many companies are actively exploring and implementing autonomous robots where they see clear benefits. As the technology continues to evolve and demonstrate its value, more companies overcome these challenges and move forward with automation. Often, it's the very first step that prevents companies from starting their automation adoption journey.

To overcome resistance to implementing autonomous robots in their facilities, companies can take several steps:

  1. Demonstrate benefits clearly
    Companies should thoroughly analyze and communicate the benefits of implementing autonomous robots. These benefits may include increased productivity, improved efficiency, cost savings, enhanced safety, and the ability to redirect human workers to more value-added tasks. Demonstrating a clear return on investment can help alleviate concerns about the upfront costs.
  2. Involve employees from the beginning
    Companies should involve employees in the decision-making process and communicate transparently about the reasons for implementing autonomous robots. Engage employees in discussions and address their concerns regarding job security and the impact of automation on their roles. Companies can emphasize that automation can augment human capabilities rather than replace them, allowing employees to focus on more complex and meaningful tasks.
  3. Provide training and upskilling opportunities
    To address workforce concerns, companies can offer training and upskilling programs to help employees adapt to the changing work environment. By providing opportunities for acquiring new skills that align with the implementation of autonomous robots, companies can demonstrate their commitment to supporting employees' professional growth and long-term employability. This also is best started with simple examples of automation; it does not need to be a full implementation of complicated robot fleets with complex software to use.
  4. Start with pilot projects
    Instead of a full-scale implementation, companies can initiate pilot projects to test and evaluate the effectiveness of autonomous robots in specific areas or tasks. This approach allows for assessing the impact, addressing challenges, and making adjustments before committing to a broader deployment. Successful pilot projects can serve as evidence to build confidence and support among stakeholders.
  5. Collaborate with experts and partners
    Companies can seek collaboration with experts, consultants, or technology providers who have experience in implementing autonomous robots. These partners can provide guidance, expertise, and support throughout the implementation process, addressing technical challenges and ensuring regulatory compliance.
  6. Emphasize safety and risk management
    Companies should prioritize safety measures and risk management strategies when implementing autonomous robots. By investing in robust safety protocols, regular maintenance, and ongoing monitoring, companies can mitigate concerns about accidents or malfunctions. Demonstrating a commitment to safety can alleviate fears and build trust among employees.
  7. Foster a culture of innovation and adaptability
    Companies should create a culture that embraces innovation and adapts to technological advancements. This includes promoting a growth mindset, encouraging experimentation, and recognizing and rewarding employees' contributions to the successful integration of autonomous robots. Leadership support and clear communication about the company's vision and long-term strategy are crucial in fostering a culture that welcomes change.

By addressing these factors and taking proactive measures, companies can overcome resistance and successfully implement autonomous robots in their facilities while maximizing the benefits they offer.

At MuL Technologies, we work extremely hard to design products that overcome many of these points of resistance. MARC robotic carts were designed to be extremely simple - we guarantee that MARC can be used within 10 minutes of receipt without any facility accommodations or software needed. MARC is a great point of entry for the adoption of automation - people view our products as a tool, not a replacement. While it's true that the time saved by using MARC means a company needs fewer associate hours, the real benefits are to make people more efficient and increase their job satisfaction. These benefits have been noticed by many of our customers.

MARC is also extremely cost effective. With completely transparent pricing and no recurring fees, MARC is easy to order, simple to set up and has the fastest ROI.

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