Forklift Driving Will Become Desk Job In Near Future
Phantom Auto, a California-based startup focusing on remote vehicle operation, has struck a deal to provide logistics equipment heavyweight Mitsubishi Logisnext Co. with software that enables forklifts to be operated remotely from thousands of miles away. A unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Kyoto-based Mitsubishi Logisnext is the third-biggest company in the $ 45 billion-plus global market for forklifts.
"We're moving warehouse workers into office jobs," Elliot Katz, Phantom Auto co-founder and chief business officer, said in an interview. Because it removes geographic labor restrictions and improves efficiency as drivers can be "teleported" into factories and warehouses experiencing surges, the software offers the potential to knock 30% or more off forklift operation costs, Katz said.
Remote operation helps solve the issue of labor crunch in the manufacturing and logistics sectors in the U.S., where younger generations are turning away from manufacturing jobs. It offers access to new labor pools — in different regions of a country or even abroad. The ability to control machinery from home or from an office also makes manufacturing and logistics jobs more appealing to workers seeking more flexibility and to avoid some of the risks of working on-site, according to Katz.