Technology company Zebra Technologies Corp. recently announced the results of its latest “Warehousing Asia Pacific Vision Study,” which saw that more than half of surveyed warehouse decision-makers eye partial automation and augmentation by 2024.
The study reports on the strategies that companies are focusing on to keep up with the growth of the on-demand economy. Both automation and worker augmentation solutions will be a key focus for decision-makers’ plans over the next five years.
More than three-quarters (81%) of respondents agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse, but only 34% have a clear understanding of where to start automating. Currently, up to 88% of decision-makers are either in the process of or are planning to expand the size of their warehouses by 2024. Up to 85% anticipate an increase in the number of warehouses during this time frame.
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“Warehousing, distribution, and fulfillment operations are undergoing a modern-day makeover as they transform to meet the growing needs of the world’s on-demand economy,” said Aik Jin Tan, lead of Manufacturing and Transportation and Logistics, APAC Vertical Solutions, Zebra Technologies. “Warehouse leaders today are turning to technology to address critical business challenges caused by this global phenomenon by adopting advanced technology and empowering their workers with a performance edge.”
The study analyzes IT and operations decision-makers from manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, post and parcel delivery, and wholesale distribution industries and their current and planned strategies to modernize warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers.
The study also found out that 57% of decision-makers plan to enable partial automation or labor augmentation with technology in the warehouse while 70% believe human interaction is part of their optimal balance in warehousing, with 43% citing partial automation (some human involvement) and 27% citing augmentation (equipping workers with devices) as their preference.
With automation in mind, organizations anticipate using robotics for inbound inventory management (27%), packing (24%) and goods in/receiving (21%) by 2024.
The respondents are now rethinking fulfillment strategies and operations to meet emerging challenges across the warehouse remains a top priority with 68% of respondents citing capacity utilization as one of their top expected challenges over the next five years.
Labor recruitment as emerging technologies become mainstream is also one of the challenges in the foreseeable future with 68% of organizations considering it as one of the things they need to look into. Decision-makers will seek increased visibility and productivity by implementing more robust returns management operations (85%), task interleaving (85%), value-added services (84%) and third-party logistics (88%).
“Expanding space, implementing new processes and enhancing workflows are only part of the equation. By 2024, warehouse leaders will be shifting their focus to the integration of more holistic solutions to build data-powered environments that balance labor and automation in the warehouse, ultimately empowering frontline workers with a performance edge to lead the way,” Tan added.