Highlights Of Zebra Technologies Annual Warehousing Vision Study Briefing

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Learn how warehouses are adapting to global challenges, embracing technology, and transforming their operations to stay ahead in today’s demanding landscape.

In a virtual event held on November 23rd, 2023, Zebra Technologies unveiled its annual warehousing vision study report. The event featured prominent speakers, including Vivien Tay, APAC Vertical Solutions Marketing Lead; Rajnish Gupta, VP and Head of India & Subcontinent Business; and Sanjay Nare, Pre-Sales Head for India & Subcontinents, all representing Zebra Technologies. Rajnish mentions that the global research study aimed at dissecting the latest trends and technologies that are reshaping warehouse operations. This study, facilitated online by Azure Knowledge Corporation, boasts substantial participation of over 1,400 respondents hailing from diverse sectors such as manufacturing, retail, transportation, logistics, and wholesale distribution organizations. It shed light on how organizations are harnessing technologies to modernize their warehouses and proactively prepare for future challenges. This study revolves around three focal themes:

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Supply Chain Resiliency and Agility: It delves into how modern warehouses are adapting to dynamic market shifts, unforeseen challenges, and the integration of technological solutions to enhance flexibility within the global supply chain. The report scrutinizes the strategies and measures employed by warehouses to fortify their supply chains and ensure resilience in the face of disruptions.

Perfect Order Profitability: This theme zeroes in on the intricacies of achieving and optimizing order profitability. The study scrutinizes the strategies and tools that warehouses employ to ensure order accuracy, timeliness, and maximized profit margins, especially in the context of rising operational costs and increasingly demanding customer expectations.

Automation, Augmentation, and Labor Planning: The study sheds light on how warehouses are harnessing advanced automation technologies, seamlessly integrating them with human tasks, and devising innovative workforce planning strategies. This approach aims to boost operational efficiency and effectively address the evolving challenges encountered in the modern warehouse environment.

The study provides valuable insights into the ever-evolving landscape of warehouse operations, offering a comprehensive view of how technology and strategic planning are reshaping the industry to meet the demands of the future. Vivien highlighted the warehousing sector’s determination to pursue ambitious goals related to connectivity, profitability, and operational efficiency, despite facing various challenges. The ongoing global economic slowdown has brought about significant shifts in the conditions affecting warehouse operations, causing uncertainty regarding expansion plans. Furthermore, the volatile nature of consumer demand and evolving regulations have made it challenging for warehouses to accurately forecast space, labor, and inventory requirements. As a result, decision-makers are under immense pressure to enhance flexibility and operational efficiency while simultaneously boosting overall profitability. To achieve these objectives, they are exploring technological solutions that empower them to adapt to changing circumstances.

Despite the current slowdown in the establishment of new warehouses, many operators are intensifying their investments in new technologies with the aim of achieving greater connectivity in the coming years. Embracing this forward-thinking approach, decision-makers have also come to recognize the importance of investing in their workforce. By implementing training programs and improving working conditions, they aim to create a career-oriented path for employees while leveraging technology to complement their skills and enable smarter decision-making.

The report also revealed significant statistics:

  • The global average size of facilities declined from 25,600 square feet to 2,378 square meters from 2022 to 2023, but it is expected to increase by 19% by 2028.
  • The global average number of facilities experienced a 2.4% decline from 2022 to 2023, with a projected 39% increase by 2028.

Warehouses are adopting tech and automation to boost inventory visibility and adapt to disruptions. Advanced data analytics enable agile responses to challenges, crucial for accuracy and productivity. Sensor-based tech for traceability and automation is on the rise amid digital transformation.

Meeting Performance Demands in Modern Warehousing

In today’s warehousing, precision is key. Decision-makers face rising pressure to improve performance, especially in areas like returns, inventory management, and order accuracy. To do so profitably, warehouses are making transformative changes, like managing workloads, hitting productivity goals, and resolving financial burdens from missed SLAs. Strategies include facility expansion, real-time tracking, and enhanced automation to handle e-commerce growth. Notably, 81% of decision-makers view missed SLAs as a major financial concern.

69% of decision-makers plan to automate workflows by 2024, recognizing the benefits of worker-centered automation amid labor challenges. Warehouses invest in worker enablement and operational enhancements to meet customer expectations and competition. Collaborative robots empower workers and enhance customer-focused tasks. Cutting-edge technology helps attract and retain workers, improving overall efficiency.

Warehouse decision-makers identify the process of attracting qualified candidates and effectively training them as their most pressing labor challenges. These challenges are exacerbated by the need for skilled personnel capable of adeptly handling the sophisticated technologies and equipment prevalent in modern warehouses. Notably, 86% of associates and 88% of decision-makers believe that implementing warehouse technologies, robotics, and devices would aid in attracting and retaining workers. Additionally, 83% of associates feel more valued by their employers, and 76% of decision-makers believe that adding automation to collaboration efforts will improve overall morale.

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