Six in 10 plan warehouse automation to augment labour by 2024: study

Eighty-seven percent of businesses plan to expand warehouse footprint over next five years

Both automation and worker augmentation solutions will be a key focus for decision makers’ plans during the next five years.
Both automation and worker augmentation solutions will be a key focus for decision makers’ plans during the next five years.

More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents to a Zebra Technologies’ study agree that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse.

However, only 35% of respondents to the Zebra Technologies 2024 Warehousing Vision Study have a clear understanding of where to start automating.

Eighty-seven percent of decision makers are currently in the process of or planning to expand the size of their warehouses by 2024, with 82% anticipating an increase in the number of warehouses during this timeframe, the study shows.

“IT and operations decision makers are prepared to meet this heightened demand over the next five years by taking an incremental approach to modernizing their warehouse operations, in which they will first work to improve individual and team productivity, while achieving workflow conformity,” said Mark Wheeler, director of supply chain solutions, Zebra Technologies. “By 2024, leaders will shift their focus to the integration of more holistic solutions to build data-powered environments that balance labour and automation in the warehouse, ultimately empowering front-line workers with a performance edge to lead the way.”

The study reports on the forward-thinking fulfillment strategies 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 during the next five years. The survey concludes that automation will enhance worker performance rather than replace workers.

Sixty-one percent of decision makers plan to enable partial automation or labour augmentation with technology in the warehouse. Three-quarters of respondents believe human interaction is part of their optimal operational balance, with 39% citing partial automation (some human involvement) and 34% citing augmentation (equipping workers with devices) as their preference.

Decision makers anticipate using robotics/bots for inbound inventory management (24%), outbound packing (22%) and goods in/receiving (20%) by 2024.

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