87% to expand warehousing and automation due to online sales
Written by Hannah McGrath
Businesses are struggling to cope with the rise in orders and parcel returns driven by e-commerce sales, with 87 per cent planning to increase their warehouse numbers to accommodate the ‘on-demand’ economy, according to a report.
A Qualtrics survey for retail technology firm Zebra - based on interviews with 1,403 IT and operational decision makers in the Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia Pacific - found that the percentage of firms planning to expand the size of their current warehouses has doubled in the last four years to 59 per cent.
Almost half (46 per cent) of respondents cited faster delivery to customer demand as the primary factor driving their warehouse growth plans.
In addition, a total of 77 per cent agreeing that new technology would be key to the modernisation of warehouses.
Both automation and worker augmentation solutions would be a key focus for decision makers’ plans during the next five years, with more than three-quarters (77 per cent) saying that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation in the warehouse.
However, only 35 percent said they had a clear understanding of where to start automating.
Of those which had developed a strategy towards automation, 61 per cent said they were planning to enable partial automation and augmentation with technology in the warehouse.
Those surveyed, anticipated they would be using robotics for inbound inventory management (24 per cent), outbound packing (22 per cent) and goods in and receiving (20 per cent) by 2024.
Mark Wheeler, director of supply chain solutions at Zebra Technologies, said: “IT and operations decision makers are prepared to meet heightened demand over the next five years by taking an incremental approach to modernising their warehouse operations.
“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.”