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Warehouse operators seek greater automation to boost inventory visibility, says study

Warehouse operators seek greater automation to boost inventory visibility, says study
Photo Credit: Pixabay
5 Jul, 2022
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The pandemic-fuelled explosion in e-commerce has increased stress among the warehouse workers who are struggling to maintain inventory accuracy and visibility, finds a new study. As a result, some are already turning to advanced technologies to support workforce, including, using wearables, mobile printers and sensor-based technologies to automate parcel, carton measurements etc., it said.

The study conducted by Zebra Technologies that polled more than 1,500 warehouse decision-makers and associates around the world with 371 respondents from Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The study said that between now and 2025, with 80% warehouses likely to increase the number of stock-keeping units (SKU), expand returns management operations, offer more value-added services, and increase their physical footprints, they will have to rely more on automation in the future. As such, in the APAC region itself, over half of the respondents said that finding skilled workers (53%) and indicate training (59%) remain big challenges.

“Today, the average time to train workers to full productivity is 4.7 weeks,” said Rajnish Gupta, Vice President and Head – India & Subcontinent Business, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific. In this regard, the study said that warehouse operators worldwide will deploy autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for person-to-goods (P2G) picking, material movements and other automated inventory moves, more will invest in software that helps automate analytics and decision-making.

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At present, employees are more likely to work for an employer that gives them modern devices to use for tasks versus an employer that provides older or no devices (83%), said the study, indicating that warehouse professionals are looking to benefit from the value of technology and automation. 

Gupta said, while, 27% of warehouse operators in APAC (including India) have already deployed some form of today, that number is expected to grow to 92% in the region within five years.

The study predicts that 90% of warehouse operators expect to leverage sensor-based technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), computer vision, fixed industrial scanning, and machine vision systems to become more prevalent over the next five years. But warehouse operators will become more thoughtful about how they implement and integrate technologies as they increasingly digitalise workflows and scale systems, it noted.

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