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Supply Chain News: Highlights of Zebra 2019 Warehouse Vision Study


Most Distribution Managers See Automation Supporting DC Workers, not Largely Eliminating Them, Suvey Finds

June 25, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Zebra Technologies is out with its latest Warehousing Vision Study, based on a survey of some 1400 operations and IT managers.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

The chart appears to indicate use of the WMS module from a company's ERP provider will decline in share by a couple of percentage points by 2024.

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SCDigest will mostly tell the story through some of the charts in the new report, but will first note the top challenges respondents said they are facing in their distribution operations. In order, those are:

1. Current technology utilization

2. Labor recruitment

3. Labor productivity

4. Capacity utilization

5. Quality of warehouse management system data

6. Inventory management

We're not quite sure what the issue is with the quality of WMS data, but nevertheless it came in at number 5 on the list.

Perhaps the most interesting chart in the report is seen below, which summarizes responses about how distribution managers view DC automation vis-à-vis workers.

As can be seen, 16% see a future of full automation and very few workers, whereas 11% see no need for automation.


Source: Zebra

The majority are in the middle, with 39% envisioning partial automation, and 34% augmentation of work through technology tools (e.g, augmented reality).

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The next chart is a little unclear. It appears to indicate use of the WMS module from a company's ERP provider will decline in share by a couple of percentage points by 2024, while by that year 54% of companies will have deployed a full-featured best-of-breed WMS, up from 38% currently.


Source: Zebra


In a few of the charts, the data doesn't sound quite right to SCDigest. For example, the chart below seems to indicate that 22% of current DCs are already using augmented reality, just one percentage point below the 23% who said they were using Voice in the DC.


Source: Zebra


Even that Voice percentage seems a little high, but clearly the percent of DCs using Voice for now far, far exceeds the relative few which have tried or adopted virtual and augmented reality.

That's our take. The full report is available from Zebra here: 2019 Zebra Warehouse Vision Study

Any reaction to this Zebra report data? What is your take on future of automation question? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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