Automation Will Enhance Worker Performance Rather Than Replace Workers: Zebra Study
Aik Jin, Tan, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead, Manufacturing and Transportation & Logistics, Zebra Technologies, said that 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.
Zebra Technologies Corporation on Tuesday announced the results of its latest Warehousing Asia Pacific Vision Study. The study by the Nasdaq-listed company, an innovator at the edge of the enterprise with solutions and partners that enable businesses to gain a performance edge, analyses IT and operations decision-makers from manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, post and parcel delivery and wholesale distribution industries for their current and planned strategies to modernize warehouses, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.
Aik Jin, Tan, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead, Manufacturing and Transportation & Logistics, Zebra Technologies, said that 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. Warehouse leaders today are turning to technology to address business-critical challenges resulting from this global phenomenon, by adopting advanced technology and empowering their workers with a performance edge. Expanding space, implementing new processes and enhancing workflows are only part of the equation. Come 2024 and leaders of the warehouse industry will shift their focus to the integration of more holistic solutions to build data-powered environments that balance labor and automation in the warehouse. This will ultimately be empowering front-line workers with a performance edge to lead the way, he said.
The study reports on the forward-thinking fulfillment 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 81 per cent of the respondents agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse. But only 34 per cent have a clear understanding of where to start automating. Currently, up to 88 percent of decision-makers are either in the process of or are planning to expand the size of their warehouses by 2024. Meanwhile, up to 85 percent anticipate an increase in the number of warehouses during this timeframe.
Deep Agarwal, Regional Sales Director of India, Zebra Technologies, said that consumers today have seemingly insatiable demands for 24/7 product search and purchase. The ‘I want it now’ mentality of consumers stretches across all industries and have since upended the supply chain, impacting manufacturers, retailers and the warehousing operations that serve their needs. Their study further revealed that 49 per cent of the surveyed decision-makers reported an increase in consumer demand as a top driver for growth, with almost 40 per cent of those surveyed stating that shorter order lead times are fueling their expansion plans and causing them to rethink their strategies, he said.
Aik Jin, Tan said that to match up to the on-demand mentality of consumers, decision-makers will need to quickly train their front-line workers to fill orders more efficiently. Outdated Windows® devices running green-screen applications are not designed to match the speed and volume of today’s on-demand economy. Conversely, modern Zebra Android touch-screen devices like the MC9300, MC3330R and MC3390R are designed for faster, more flexible operation that improves warehouse performance to meet the expectations of demanding consumers today.
KEY SURVEY FINDINGS
Automation will enhance worker performance rather than replace workers, by 2024.
57 per cent of decision-makers plan to enable partial automation or labor augmentation with technology in the warehouse.
As high as 70 per cent of respondents believe human interaction is part of their optimal balance in warehousing, with 43 per cent citing partial automation (some human involvement) and 27 per cent citing augmentation (equipping workers with devices) as their preference.
Decision-makers anticipate using robotics for inbound inventory management (27 per cent), packing (24 per cent) and goods in/receiving (21 per cent) by 2024.