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December 29th, 2019 at 12:12 am

Uniqlo’s robots have already replaced 90% of its human workers at its flagship warehouse, now they’ve cracked the difficult task of folding T-shirts

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Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo.

Uniqlo is coming close to full automation at its flagship warehouse in Tokyo, according to a new report from The Financial Times.

According to The FT, Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing, has partnered with a Japanese startup that develops industrial robots to create a two-armed robot that is able to pick up t-shirts and box these up, a task that could previously only be done by a human.

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This is an important innovation as it could enable this factory, which has already replaced 90% of its workers with robots, to roll out a fully automated process.

Uniqlo is coming close to full automation at its flagship warehouse in Tokyo.

According to a new report from The Financial Times, Uniqlo’s owner – apparel giant Fast Retailing – has partnered with Mujin, a Japanese startup that develops industrial robots, to create a new two-armed robot that is able to pick up t-shirts and box these up to be sent out to customers. This was a task that could previously only be done by a human.

This is an important innovation as it could enable this factory, which has already replaced 90% of its workers with robots, to roll out a fully automated process.

In an interview with The FT, a Fast Retailing executive who focuses on the development of its supply chain, stressed the importance of such innovations in Japan at this time.

“It’s becoming extremely difficult to hire workers, and it’s a lot more than people think,” Fast Retailing executive vice president Takuya Jimbo said. “We have to be the frontrunner and continue trial and error because only the companies that can update their business models can survive.”

Jimbo is referring to a labor shortage that is currently crippling Japan thanks to its low birth rate and rapidly aging society.

Data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security, which was cited in a recent NPR article, estimates that Japan’s population will decline from about 127 million to about 88 million by 2065. Moreover, recent data from Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, which was also cited by NPR, indicated that one in five people in Japan is now over the age of 70.

Because of these, retailers and robot developers aren’t too worried about what this automation will mean for workers.

Via BusinessInsider.com

 

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