Zebra study: Six in 10 plan warehouse automation to augment labor by 2024
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• Sixty-one percent of decision makers plan to enable partial automation or labor augmentation with technology in the warehouse.
• Three-quarters of respondents believe human interaction is part of their optimal operational balance, with 39 percent citing partial automation (some human involvement) and 34 percent citing augmentation (equipping workers with devices) as their preference.
• Decision makers anticipate using robotics/bots for inbound inventory management (24 percent), outbound packing (22 percent) and goods in/receiving (20 percent) by 2024.
• Fifty-nine percent of respondents cited capacity utilization as a significant expected challenge and plan to address it by expanding the size of their warehouses.
• Sixty percent of organizations cited labor recruitment and/or labor efficiency and productivity among their top challenges, with 63 percent of respondents noting an immediate focus on individual or team productivity outcomes.
• IT/technology utilization was identified both as the most anticipated operational challenge (61 percent) of the next five years and a desired long-term outcome for increased asset visibility, real-time guidance and data-driven performance.
• As warehouses expand, so will the volume of stock keeping units (SKUs) and the speed items need to be shipped. Decision makers will seek increased visibility and productivity by implementing more robust returns management operations (81 percent), task interleaving (80 percent), value-added services (80 percent) and third-party logistics (83 percent).
• Almost half (46 percent) of surveyed respondents cited faster delivery to end-customers as the primary factor driving their warehouse growth plans.
• More than three-quarters (77 percent) of decision makers agree that they need to modernize operations across the warehouse to remain competitive in the on-demand economy but are slow to implement new mobile devices and technology.
• Seventy-three percent of companies are currently modernizing their warehouses by implementing or refreshing mobile computers, tablets and barcode scanners.
By 2024, modernization will be driven by Android-based mobile computing solutions (83 percent), real-time location systems (RTLS) (55 percent) and full-featured warehouse management systems (WMS) (54 percent).
Sixty percent of respondents cited mobile barcode label or thermal printers as a key area of investment as part of their plans to add, expand or upgrade devices in the next three years.
KEY REGIONAL SURVEY FINDINGS
By 2024, 87 percent of respondents plan to implement a mobile execution system to better manage workers on the warehouse floor.
Seventy-three percent of decision makers plan to invest in smart watches, smart glasses and hip-mounted wearables in the next three years.
The square footage of the average warehouse is projected to increase by 26 percent—more than in any other region—in the next five years.
By 2024, RFID and locationing technology usage is anticipated to increase for outbound operations with more than one in five planning to use them for packing (25 percent), inventory management (20 percent) and picking (19 percent).
Latin American decision makers identified labor efficiency or productivity (71 percent) as the top operational challenge of the next five years.
Ninety-five percent of organizations plan to implement Android-based mobile computers in the warehouse by 2024 to help improve worker productivity and efficiency.
Almost half (49 percent) of North American decision makers identified outbound packing, staging and loading as a challenge.
Ninety-four percent of respondents will have implemented or plan to implement trailer load optimization and/or load compliance solutions by 2024.