Most warehouse bosses eye partial automation, augmentation by 2024

Photo by Sikai Gu

Warehouse decision makers are focusing on both automation and worker augmentation solutions over the next five years, to keep up with the growth of the on-demand economy, according to the latest study by Zebra Technologies.

The 2024 Warehousing Vision Study included 1,403 IT and operational decision makers — 352 were from Asia Pacific — in the manufacturing, transportation & logistics, retail, post and parcel delivery and wholesale distribution markets who were interviewed by Qualtrics.

The study found that four in every five (81%) of respondents agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse, but only 34% have a clear understanding of where to start automating.

Currently, up to 88% 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% anticipate an increase in the number of warehouses during this timeframe.

Aik Jin, Tan, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead, Manufacturing and Transportation & Logistics at Zebra Technologies, said that by 2024, warehouse leaders will be shifting their focus to the integration of more holistic solutions to build data-powered environments that balance labor and automation in the warehouse.

“The on-demand economy has fuelled that ‘want-it-now’ mentality of consumers today, who are on the hunt for products almost 24/7. These demands have disrupted the supply chain, impacting manufacturers, retailers and the warehousing operations that serve their need,” said Fang-How Lim, regional director for Southeast Asia at Zebra Technologies.

“Our study further revealed that 49% of the surveyed business leaders reported an increase in consumer demand as a top driver for growth, with almost 40% of respondents stating that shorter order lead times are fuelling their expansion plans and causing them to reanalyse their strategies,” Lim said.

In Asia-Pacific, by 2024, 87% of respondents plan to implement a mobile execution system to better manage workers on the warehouse floor.

Also in this region, 73% of decision makers plan to invest in smart watches, smart glasses and hip-mounted wearables in the next three years.