Comment: Warehouse automation critical to future-proof fulfillment

Hozefa Saylawala is director of sales for the Middle East at Zebra Technologies
Technology, Automation, Logistics, Zebra

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Most enterprises recognize that technology can fuel greater speed and efficiency in their operations. As a result, warehouses and fulfillment centers are evolving with the latest technology to keep up with the growing on-demand economy.  

Zebra’s 2024 Warehousing Vision study reveals the benefits of an intelligent operation and its impact on future growth plans. The study found that almost half (46%) of surveyed respondents cited faster delivery to end-customers as the primary factor driving their warehouse growth plans.  

Zebra surveyed more than 1,400 IT and operations professionals in manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail and wholesale distribution markets globally. 

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More than 60 percent of those surveyed said IT and technology utilization was the most anticipated operational challenge over the next five years and a desired long-term outcome for increased asset visibility, real-time guidance and data-driven performance.

Sixty percent of organizations cited labor recruitment and/or labor efficiency and productivity among their top challenges. 

This is particularly relevant to enterprises that experience a peak season and struggle with the speed of training temporary employees. To speed-up new hire training, innovative mobile devices that are intuitive and require little to no training are the solution.

Most respondents (77 percent) agreed that remaining competitive in this economy means modernizing processes, but many respondents also stated that they are slow to implement new technology.

Thankfully, transitioning to a more technologically advanced workspace isn’t an all-or-nothing overhaul approach.

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Instead, companies can incrementally implement new technologies so they can move at their own pace while also arming employees with the tools necessary to be successful in the fast-changing warehouse space.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents agreed that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse, showcasing the potential for technological innovation to improve productivity.  

The future of warehouses looks bright, with about nine-in-10 enterprises (87 percent) currently increasing or planning to expand the size of their warehouses by 2024, and 83 percent of respondents plan to increase their number of employees.

Today’s consumer demands, like one-day shipping, mean the enterprise must find ways to create more efficient work flows to fulfill these needs, and the latest technology are a key part of the solution.

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