It could be interpreted as ironic that China – whose export-orientated economy was built on its vast and under-employed labour force – is one of leading countries in the adoption of automation and robotics in its manufacturing and warehousing sectors; or it could simply be a sign of the demographic process under way there, with a rapidly ageing population. Either way, the most recent investment by Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com in a new highly automated facility outside of Shanghai is surely a sign of things to come, according to this report from Freightwaves. “JD.com and Alibaba understand that to make supply chains tighter and faster, it is vital to remove the human quotient from redundant tasks, which when relegated to automated robots would quicken the pace of fulfilment.”

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