Zebra Technologies Corporation has recently conducted a worldwide Warehousing Vision Study to examine the trends and sentiments influencing operational decisions and warehouse expenditure. The findings issued are optimistic: the warehouse industry is making major efforts to better meet the demands of both customers and employees, as well as to make it simpler to fill open vacancies. Here is a quick recap of the report.
The study, which was conducted by Zebra Technologies Corporation in January and February 2022, received feedback from over 1,500 warehouse decision-makers and associates globally, including those in Asia-Pacific (APAC) nations such as Australia, China, India, Japan, and Singapore. According to a recent global study by Zebra, about 60% of warehouse associates worldwide report improved working conditions and increased usage of technology that make their jobs simple and easy. There are five key findings of the study:
1 . Market Pressures Become Catalyst for Positive Changes
The pandemic has accelerated economic development and modernization. Despite the fact that just one-quarter of decision-makers in APAC regions are already employing machine vision and/or fixed industrial scanning equipment in major industries, nine out of ten agree that it would save time and eliminate inefficiencies. Additionally, globally and in APAC, 27% of warehouse operators have already implemented some type of autonomous mobile robots (AMR). Within the next five years, that percentage is predicted to rise to 92% in APAC and 90% globally.
“Labor shortages caused by recent global events are pressuring regional and global supply chains, presenting a fulfillment gap across several industries,” stated Aik Jin Tan, Zebra Technologies’ APAC Vertical Solutions Lead for Manufacturing, Machine Vision/Fixed Industrial Scanning. “This emphasizes the significance of a robust and flexible supply chain.”
2 . Some Challenges for the Warehouse
Decision-makers are having more problems than three years ago getting customer orders out the door on time, and are struggling to maintain inventory accuracy and visibility. They also admit that in order to stay up with the on-demand economy, they must fulfill orders quicker than ever before, with increased transportation costs putting a strain on more than 40% of warehouse operators in manufacturing, transportation, wholesale distribution, logistics, and retail.
More than eight-in-ten expect to grow the number of stock-keeping units (SKU) and the amount of transported goods between now and 2025. They also intend to extend their returns management operations, provide more value-added services, and expand their physical presence by increasing the number and size of warehouses. While 61 percent of warehouse operators worldwide aim to enhance employment in the next year in order to right-size their workforces, they agree that hiring (55%) and training (54%) people in a timely way remain key concerns.Therefore, they will have to rely more on automation in the future.
3 . Balancing the Scales: How to Augment the Workforce with Automation
While most warehouse operators across the world will employ Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) for person-to-goods (P2G) picking, material transfers, and other automated inventory moves, more will invest in software that aids in the automation of analytics and decision-making. In APAC, 95% of decision-makers expressed an intention to invest in such software in order to improve worker effectiveness and efficiency while lowering labor costs, slightly exceeding the worldwide average (94%). 56% of APAC decision-makers say that the most essential labor strategy is to minimize tedious tasks, so employees can focus on more customer-centric work and use their workforce more efficiently.
4 . Job Satisfaction and Worker Retention amidst Automation
Some may argue that as warehouse operators enhance automation, jobs are at risk. However, survey respondents believe that automation will help maintain more people in their employment and fill unfilled ones. Almost eight out of ten warehouse employees in APAC (79%) and worldwide (78%) said walking fewer kilometers per day would make their jobs more pleasant, even if they had to pick or handle more things, and many feel AMRs may make warehouse jobs less hectic.
“Though automation has been a focus for companies for years, it has become an important investment area owing to unanticipated disturbances and seasonal peaks that demand the workforce to grow fast,” Tan added. “Interestingly, associates are more concerned about this than warehouse operators right now, adding to the commercial need of an augmented workforce in the warehouse environment.”
5 . Five-Year Technology Outlook for Warehouse Operations
Warehouse associates (84%) and decision-makers (79%) are concerned that unless more technology investments are made to improve operations, they will not meet their business objectives, with associates in the transportation (92%) and logistics (88%) sectors feeling the most strongly about this necessity. As a result, over the next five years, more than six in ten decision-makers believe they will invest in technology that improves inventory and asset visibility within warehouses, as well as overall visibility throughout supply chains. 90% respondents anticipate to see an increase in the usage of sensor-based technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), computer vision, fixed industrial scanning, and machine vision systems.
About Zebra Technologies
Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) empowers organizations to thrive in the on-demand economy by making every front-line worker and asset at the edge visible, connected and fully optimized. With an ecosystem of more than 10,000 partners across more than 100 countries, Zebra serves customers of all sizes – including 94% of the Fortune 100 – with an award-winning portfolio of hardware, software, services and solutions that digitize and automate workflows. Zebra recently expanded its industrial automation portfolio with its Fetch Robotics acquisition and increased its machine vision and AI software capabilities with the acquisitions of Adaptive Vision and antuit.ai.