Warehousing sector set for digital uplift by 2024

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  • Plant & Equipment

Improving warehouse operations through advanced technologies is ecommerce key: Zebra report

Warehousing will rely on new technologies and data-powered environments to meet the growing demands of supply chain operations in the next five years, a recent study has found.

The increasing demands driven by ecommerce has created the need for improvements across the supply chain and warehousing operations.

As a result, a majority of warehouse managers in the Asia Pacific are moving to advanced technologies that enhance human capabilities and drive modernisation that balances labour and automation in the warehouse, Zebra Technologies’ Warehousing Asia Pacific vision study states.

The study found that expanding space, implementing new processes and enhancing workflows are only a part of the process, and by 2024 there will be a need to integrate "more holistic solutions" that finds an optimal balance between automation and human labour and ultimately enhances the performance of front-line workers.

The study suggests:

  • 87 per cent of the warehousing organisations surveyed plan to implement mobile execution systems to better manage workers on the warehouse floor by 2024
  • 73 per cent plan to invest in smart watches, smart glasses and hip-mounted wearables in the next three years
  • 70 per cent believe human interaction is part of their optimal balance in warehousing, with 43 per cent citing partial automation, and 27 per cent citing augmentation as their preference.

Improving warehouse management systems (WMS) is also going to be a key area of focus for warehouse managers as they look to improve overall workflow performance.

"The WMS of the future must have the capability to include real-time data from location-aware solutions, sensors and systems located throughout the enterprise," the report states.

"As decision makers focus on greater asset visibility and utilisation, real-time guidance and data-driven performance, these advanced WMS features are essential to ensure warehouse optimisation."

In the next five years there will also be an increase in physical automation such as the use of robotics, drones and autonomous vehicles, and data automation such as predictive analytics, machine learning, and augmented and virtual reality across the warehousing landscape.

Over 90 per cent warehouse managers say that worker comfort and ergonomics are going to be one of their top labour initiatives over the next five years, as a result more companies are "exploring new ways to expand workers’ skill sets".

Meanwhile, 83 per cent of those surveyed agree that the warehouse environment will become a "more desirable career" because of the technological improvements currently under way, with up to 50 per cent companies stating that they are "increasing supply chain and technical training to retain labour and develop a career path for valued employees".

The results of the survey are based on feedback from 352 APAC IT and operational decision makers from manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, post and parcel delivery and wholesale distribution industries regarding the current and planned strategies for modernising their warehouses, distribution centres and fulfilment centres from 2019-2024.

Read the full report here.


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