Zebra Study: Six in 10 Plan Warehouse Automation to Augment Labor by 2024

Eighty-seven percent of businesses plan to expand warehouse footprint
over next five years

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Zebra
Technologies Corporation
 (NASDAQ: ZBRA), an innovator at the edge of
the enterprise with solutions and partners that enable businesses to
gain a performance edge, today announced the results of its 2024
Warehousing Vision Study
, analyzing IT and operations decision
makers’ current and planned strategies for modernizing their warehouses,
distribution centers and fulfillment centers.


The study
reports on the forward-thinking fulfillment strategies 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 during the next five years. More than
three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents agree that augmenting workers
with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the
warehouse, but only 35 percent have a clear understanding of where to
start automating. Eighty-seven percent of decision makers are currently
in the process of or planning to expand the size of their warehouses by
2024, with 82 percent anticipating an increase in the number of
warehouses during this timeframe.

“IT and operations decision makers are prepared to meet this heightened
demand over the next five years by taking an incremental approach to
modernizing their warehouse operations, in which they will first work to
improve individual and team productivity, while achieving workflow
conformity,” said Mark Wheeler, director of supply chain solutions,
Zebra Technologies. “By 2024, leaders will shift their focus to the
integration of more holistic solutions to build data-powered
environments that balance labor and automation in the warehouse,
ultimately empowering front-line workers with a performance edge to lead
the way.”

KEY SURVEY FINDINGS

By 2024, automation will enhance worker performance rather than
replace workers.

  • 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.

Rethinking fulfillment strategies and operations to meet emerging
challenges across the warehouse remains a top priority.

  • 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).

The investment and implementation of new technologies is critical for
remaining competitive in the on-demand economy.

  • 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

Asia-Pacific

  • 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.

Europe

  • 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 America

  • 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.

North America

  • 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.

SURVEY BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY

The 2024 Warehousing Vision Study included 1,403 IT and operational
decision makers in the manufacturing, transportation & logistics,
retail, post and parcel delivery and wholesale distribution markets in
North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe who were
interviewed by Qualtrics.

ABOUT ZEBRA

Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) empowers the front line of business in
retail/ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics,
healthcare and other industries to achieve a performance edge. With more
than 10,000 partners across 100 countries, we deliver industry-tailored,
end-to-end solutions that intelligently connect people, assets and data
to help our customers make business-critical decisions. Our
market-leading solutions elevate the shopping experience, track and
manage inventory as well as improve supply chain efficiency and patient
care. Ranked on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers for the last
four years, Zebra helps our customers capture their edge. For more
information, visit www.zebra.com
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ZEBRA and the stylized Zebra head are trademarks of Zebra Technologies
Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Android is a
trademark of Google Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their
respective owners. ©2019 Zebra Technologies Corporation and/or its
affiliates. All rights reserved.

Contacts

Media Contact:
Bill Abelson
Zebra Technologies
+1-631-738-4751
bill.abelson@zebra.com

Industry Analyst Contact:
Kasia Fahmy
Zebra Technologies
+1-224-306-8654
k.fahmy@zebra.com

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