Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA), an innovator with solutions and partners that enable businesses to improve their performance, nowadays announced the results of its new “Warehousing Vision Study” to analyze current status and future trends in the warehousing industry. warehouses, including how investments are changing and what decisions are being made to hire new professionals.
Market pressure drives positive change
Almost nine out of ten warehouse operators agree that they need to implement new technologies to be more competitive and 80% confirm that the pandemic has prompted them to evolve and digitize faster.
In Europe, more than three quarters of operators are turning their attention and increasing the volume of spending on technologies that improve the automation of workflows. For example, the use of wearables , mobile printers and rugged tablets will increase in the coming years, along with mobile sizing software that automates the measurement of packages. Moreover, 23% of European warehouse operators have already deployed some type of autonomous mobile robot (AMR) nowadays, a figure that reaches 27% globally. Within five years, it is expected to rise to 88% in Europe and 90% worldwide.
“ We are seeing positive change happening in the supply chain and specifically within the warehouses ,” says Mark Wheeler, Director of Supply Chain Solutions at Zebra Technologies. “ Most decision makers believe that investments in automation far outweigh the risks of doing nothing, and they are becoming more comfortable integrating all sorts of new technologies into their current operations and infrastructure .”
Warehouse employees are also fitting increasingly comfortable with their superiors’ use of new technology. Thus, although less than half (45% globally and 47% in Europe) say that their salary has been increased or offered bonuses, the majority (82% globally and 81% in Europe) feel positively affected by this new situation. And it is that their working conditions are improving in other ways, thanks to the use of technologies that help them have more bendy work shifts. In fact, an overwhelming majority of nine out of ten warehouse employees agree that technological advances will make the environment more appealing to workers, even in times like the present when supply chains are being Under stress, demand is increasing and the pressure to meet tighter deadlines is increasing.
Main challenges of warehouses
Decision makers are having a harder time shipping customer orders on time than they were three years ago, and are struggling to preserve inventory accuracy and visibility. They also admit that they are expected to deliver orders faster than ever to reply to the new “on-demand” economy and that rising transportation costs take a toll on more than 40% of warehouse operators that encompass manufacturing duties, transport, wholesale distribution, logistics and trade. This is not surprising considering that respondents indicate that their shipping volumes have increased by more than 20% on average in the final two years.
However, warehouse operators see these challenges as catalysts for change as well. By 2025, more than eight in ten expect to increase the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) and the volume of items shipped. They also plan to expand returns management operations, offer more value-added services, and increase both the number and size of warehouses.
Although six in ten warehouse operators also want to increase their workforce in the coming year, almost half admit that finding (55%) and training (54%) workers in a timely manner remains a major challenge. This is especially true in Europe, where 48% say it is difficult to find workers and 50% say training is a challenge. As a result, around eight out of ten managers agree that they will have to rely more on automation in the future.
Balancing the Scales: Increasing Labor with Automation
While the majority of warehouse operators, both in Europe (88%) and in the rest of the world (90%), will deploy autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for person-to-goods (P2G) order picking and of material, 92% of them in Europe and 94% in the rest of the world will also invest in software solutions that help automate analysis and decision-making. They want to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of workers and reduce labor costs.
“ As the pace of operations quickens and workflows become more complex, warehouse operators have found that the average time for workers to arrive full productivity is 4.7 weeks ,” says James Lawton , Vice President and General Manager, Robotics Automation of Zebra Technologies. “ Right now, decision-makers see the most important workplace initiative as reducing unnecessary tasks so employees can focus on more strategic work for the customer .”
Automation: job satisfaction and worker retention
When it is said that some warehouse operators plan to increase automation, it is thought that jobs will be missing as a result. Notwithstanding, the study confirms that automation can help not only keep more people in their jobs, but also fill vacancies. More than three-quarters of warehouse employees in Europe (75%) and globally (78%) say that walking fewer miles a day would make their job more enjoyable, even whether they had to pick or handle more items, and 81% strongly believe that AMRs could make warehouse jobs less stressful.
Decision makers should take note as only 35% in Europe and 41% globally strongly agree that the implementation of warehouse technologies such as robotics and mobile devices can help attract and retain talent.
- Employees already working with AMRs today say that these technologies have helped them improve their productivity, reduce travel time (83%) and errors (73%), and enable them to perform new functions or opportunities (65 %).
- Moreover, they state that they are more likely to work for a company that provides them with technological devices that help them carry out their tasks (83% globally and 87% in Europe).
“ Automation is very important, particularly when the workforce is limited or during periods of unforeseen growth or seasonal spikes when it can be difficult to scale up quickly ,” adds Wheeler. ” What’s interesting is that employees currently feel more self-assured about it than warehouse operators themselves .”
Technological outlook for the next five years
85% of decision makers say they have implemented mobile solutions so frontline workers can record every stock move they make. Yet more than eight out of ten warehouse employees, and nearly three-quarters of decision-makers in Europe and remainder of the world, worry that they will not achieve their goals unless more investment is made in technology to improve operations, with employees in the transport (92%) and logistics (88%) sectors feeling this need the most. As a result, more than six in ten managers say they will invest in technologies that improve visibility of their inventories and assets across their warehouses and supply chains in the next five years.
At the same time, nine out of ten expect the use of sensor-based technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), computer vision, stationary industrial scanning and machine vision systems to become more prevalent in the coming years. five years. As companies invest in advanced technologies that enable greater visibility, real-time guidance, and data-driven performance, team productivity and worker well-being are improving.
PRECIS OF THE LEADING REGIONAL RESULTS OF THE STUDY
- Nine out of ten decision makers in the APAC region agree that machine vision and/or industrial scanning technology pinpoints key areas, would save time and reduce errors, although only a quarter currently use it.
- European warehouse employees are the most likely to say they would have a better opinion of their managers whether they were provided with mobile devices and technology (85%).
- 96% of employees in the LATAM region believe that implementing warehouse technologies, such as robotics, would help attract and retain workers, the highest percentage of all regions.
- 86% of decision makers in North America say the pandemic has prompted them to evolve and modernize faster, the most of any region.
The report is available on the Zebra site (registration required).