October 05, 2018

The company recently remodeled the existing warehouse with an automated system created in partnership with Daifuku, a provider of material handling systems. Now that the system is running, the company revealed during a walkthrough of the new facility, Uniqlo has been able to cut staff at the warehouse by 90%. The warehouse can now also operate 24 hours a day.

- Uniqlo replaced 90% of staff at its newly automated warehouse with robots (Quartz)

People sleep; robots don't. That's a big change.

One immediate consequence: a "slower" robot that can work 24/7 may be faster than a person, who has to go home at night. I first thought about that when reading about SAM:

But I think work throughput is just the tip of the iceberg; a lot of life runs on human cycles, and I wonder whether any of the following will change, as robots become more widely used:

  • Will daily electricity use shift, if fewer buildings are occupied by people?
  • Will daily commute patterns change?
  • Will "construction season" (a big deal in the Midwest) last longer?
  • Will crop harvest patterns change?

Sometimes the second- and third-order effects of major changes are the most surprising.