Automation will enhance employee productivity, study reveals

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    NEW technologies in the workplace will enhance employee performance rather than replace workers. This forecast, seen to happen by 2024 has made decision makers eye partial automation and augmentation by that time.

    The Warehousing Asia Pacific Vision 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, commissioned by Zebra Technologies Corporation to research firm Qualtrics interviewed 1,403 (of which 352 were from APAC) IT and operational decision makers in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, post and parcel delivery and wholesale distribution markets in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

    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 percent of respondents agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse, but only 34 percent 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 time frame. Fifty-seven percent of decision makers plan to enable partial automation or labor augmentation with technology in the warehouse.

    “Warehousing, distribution and fulfilment operations are undergoing a modern-day makeover as they transform to meet the growing needs of the world’s on-demand economy,” Zebra Technologies APAC Vertical Solutions Lead of Manufacturing and Transportation & Logistics Aik Jin Tan said.

    The study confirmed how companies see investment and implementation of new technologies as critical for remaining competitive in the on-demand economy. Forty eight percent of surveyed respondents cited faster delivery to end customers as the primary factor driving their warehouse growth plans.

    “Consumers today have seemingly insatiable demand for 24/7 product search and purchase. The ‘I want it now’ mentality of consumers stretches across all industries and has since upended the supply chain, impacting manufacturers, retailers and the warehousing operations that serve their needs,” Zebra Country Head for the Philippines Tracy Yeo said.

    Seventy five percent of decision makers agree that they need to modernize warehouse operations to remain competitive in the on-demand economy but are admittedly slow to implement new mobile devices and technology. And seventy-three percent of companies are currently modernizing their warehouses by equipping workers with mobile devices.

    By 2024, 90 percent of modernization will be driven by Android-based mobile computing solutions with 60 percent applying real-time location systems (RTLS) while 55 percent will have full-featured warehouse management systems (WMS).

    Sixty-six percent of respondents cited mobile bar-code 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.