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Zebra Study Reveals Executives' Priorities

According to the research, 89 percent of the companies polled are investing in labor and technology to expand their warehouse deployments by 2024.
By Edson Perin
Oct 18, 2019

Zebra Technologies has announced the results of its "Future Warehouse 2024" study, which cites increased automation and workforce growth as trends for corporate warehouses, distribution and supply centers throughout the next five years. More than 1,400 executives from the manufacturing, transportation, logistics, retail and wholesale distribution sectors in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Latin America were interviewed, with Brazilian and Mexican decision makers consulted for the study.

According to the study, 74 percent of respondents agree that introducing more workers, together with technology solutions, is the best way to automate warehouses, though only 35 percent clearly see where to start this process. The research addresses strategies of leaders in the areas of operation and information technology in order to modernize warehouses and keep up with demand. Of these, a total of 89 percent of decision makers are leading expansion processes or are already planning to expand their warehouses by 2024. Another 84 percent anticipate an increase in the number of warehouses.

According to Vanderlei Ferreira, the general manager of Zebra Technologies in Brazil, executives are prepared to face a growing demand throughout the next five years and are gradually modernizing their warehouse processes, improving worker and equipment productivity and improving the workflow. "By 2024," Ferreira states, "the trend is for solutions to continue to be integrated with an increasingly holistic approach, creating data-based environments that balance workforce and warehouse automation with worker training at baseline, gaining a competitive advantage that now makes them pioneers on the road to modernization. "

By 2024, according to the Zebra study, automation will improve workers' performance rather than replace labor. Of those surveyed, 69 percent of warehouse managers plan for partial automation or workforce augmentation through technology. In the same group, 62 percent consider human interaction to be part of an ideal operational balance, while 32 percent prefer partial automation with human participation, and 30 percent bet on increasing the number of workers together with the use of technological devices.

Decision makers believe in the implementation of automated or robotic systems to manage warehouse inventory (31 percent), packaging for distribution (20 percent) and receiving goods (22 percent) by 2024. Rethinking strategies and operations to address challenges remain among the priorities. Of the study participants, 59 percent cited gaining storage space as a stimulus to expanding the size of their sheds. Among organizations, 60 percent mentioned hiring labor or increasing worker efficiency and productivity as their main focal points.

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