How innovation within the retail sector has impacted the demand for automation engineers

Retail roboter in warehouse

For many, the concept of automation is associated with a loss of jobs. However this is rarely the case; automation can actually lead to a wealth of opportunity. As the engineering industry becomes more automated, we’re seeing a significant demand in specialist roles. We spoke to Samuel Robinson, Recruitment Consultant at Progressive, to find out more.

The changing face of retail

With technology re-shaping the way retail business is conducted, automation is refining company processes at a rapid rate. According to Samuel, “In order to retain customer satisfaction, businesses have to quickly adapt to technological advancements.” As companies develop sophisticated, easy-to-use platforms, brands are competing to provide the most efficient processes to attract consumers. 

Large retailers can no longer rely on manual operations, it’s now essential their warehouses operate under an automated framework. If they don’t adapt their processes to keep up-to-date with their competitors, consumers will go elsewhere. Easy-to-use systems that allow customers to receive their product(s) as quickly as possible are now expected from all large retailers.

The value of convenience 

Manufacturing and delivery processes are innovating at a rapid pace. ‘Next Day Delivery’ is a relatively new concept, and yet businesses are looking for ways to take this further. Amazon now offer a ‘Dash’ service, allowing consumers to install a button for each of their favourite brands in their home. Simply pressing this button means their product is instantly sent out for delivery. 

Innovation within automation is driving change and re-shaping the entire retail landscape. Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at e-commerce consultancy Salmon believes, “It is experience that drives loyalty and will be the difference between being a leader in digital commerce and being left behind.”

As consumer habits change and customers become reliant on these new processes, its essential companies automate to meet demand. For retailers, an automation function is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. 

Processes shifting from manual to automation

Most companies that operate a manual manufacturing output are now investing a great deal of money to drive this change to automation. This can be achieved by introducing an automation specialist on either a contract or permanent basis to outline a re-focussed engineering strategy that optimises customer delivery. For this to be a success, a wealth of automation engineers will be needed to fulfil customer requirements. 

While demand for these professionals may be increasing, the number of available automation engineers is limited. Samuel explains, “Demand is outstripping supply and the amount of engineers available to fill the skills gap is decreasing. As more organisations automate their processes, niche candidates become increasingly attractive.”

Demand outstripping supply

Most projects have tight time constraints and aggressive targets to meet the high expectations of customers. Due to the ever-changing face of the industry, many companies haven’t acquired the skills in-house to train less experienced engineers. Training is a huge problem in the area, leaving established and experienced automation engineers highly desirable.

Businesses need professionals with hands on experience that can deliver automation solutions efficiently and effectively. So if you have tangible experience of automating a warehouse or a process, your skills are extremely desirable.

Variety of jobs

Automation changing the face of engineering isn’t just leading to an increase in the number of jobs, but also the variety of roles available. The scale at which companies are automating their processes means entire automation teams need to be created to work alongside additional engineering functions. Roles such as a controls engineers, mechanical design engineers and automation project managers are all considered specialised, niche positions. As an automation engineer, you have access to a wider scope of opportunities than ever before.

At Progressive, we work with a wide range of companies with a variety of engineering requirements. If you’re interested in a new engineering opportunity, contact us today. Our team of dedicated consultants are ready to help you find your perfect role


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