Executive Briefings

Online Retail Boom Means More Warehouse Workers - and Robots

There's a good chance something you've bought online has been in the hands of a "picker" first. These are the workers in warehouses who pick, pack and ship all those things we're ordering.

Online Retail Boom Means More Warehouse Workers — and Robots

At Amazon and other companies, they're working side by side with robots. Experts say while the robots are replacing some human workers, the machines aren't quite ready to take over completely.

To keep pace with a growing hunger for fast delivery, more pickers are being hired in the distribution industry. And on the outskirts of the Bay Area, a school is using technology to train students in these new jobs.

Patterson High School is about two hours east of San Francisco. It's surrounded by the farmland of California's Central Valley, which produces half of the country's fruits, vegetables and nuts. But this group of students isn't learning how to be farmers. They're training to work in warehouses.

Recently, teacher Hilario Garcia was instructing a student perched on a virtual reality forklift simulator. The machine is part of a mock warehouse the school built for vocational courses to train students like Justin Lockhart.

He says he appreciates having such a course, especially in a town dominated by farming. "It's now turned into a big logistics and distribution center out there," including an Amazon facility, Lockhart notes. The giant online retailer operates one of a dozen distribution centers just down the road.

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At Amazon and other companies, they're working side by side with robots. Experts say while the robots are replacing some human workers, the machines aren't quite ready to take over completely.

To keep pace with a growing hunger for fast delivery, more pickers are being hired in the distribution industry. And on the outskirts of the Bay Area, a school is using technology to train students in these new jobs.

Patterson High School is about two hours east of San Francisco. It's surrounded by the farmland of California's Central Valley, which produces half of the country's fruits, vegetables and nuts. But this group of students isn't learning how to be farmers. They're training to work in warehouses.

Recently, teacher Hilario Garcia was instructing a student perched on a virtual reality forklift simulator. The machine is part of a mock warehouse the school built for vocational courses to train students like Justin Lockhart.

He says he appreciates having such a course, especially in a town dominated by farming. "It's now turned into a big logistics and distribution center out there," including an Amazon facility, Lockhart notes. The giant online retailer operates one of a dozen distribution centers just down the road.

Read Full Article

Online Retail Boom Means More Warehouse Workers — and Robots