More than 50% of U.S. companies are considering investing in automation solutions in response to the changing post-COVID market. E-commerce (66%); grocery, food and beverage (59%); and logistics (55%) industries are at the forefront.
“The global pandemic caused a sudden and seismic shift in the global supply chain driving distribution centers to embrace remote operations and social distancing work processes. Recent consumer studies have shown increased online purchases by 28% globally and buy online / pickup in store is expected to increase by more than 60% in 2020,” said Chris Feuell, Chief Marketing Officer at Honeywell Intelligrated. “Consumers want seamless integration between online and in-store shopping, buying and delivery experiences, and companies are adapting by deploying micro-fulfillment strategies.”
Automation and connected solutions can help operations continue where traditional labor cannot. Many companies view the use of robotic technology, guided work solutions, and computer-controlled equipment as a necessity for future competitiveness. They focus mostly on warehouse execution software (48%), order picking technology (46%), and robotic solutions (44%), according to the study. While automation is seen to be essential, the study reveals that less than one-third of companies have implemented any of these solutions to date. Those that have not embraced automation cite cost as the biggest barrier, although nearly every company that has adopted automated solutions has seen positive results.
“To ensure successful design and implementation of automation, companies need to partner with an experienced provider who can integrate these technologies to ensure they get the best return on investment possible,” Feuell said. “There are several scalable solutions available where companies can see an immediate return on investment at a lower cost of entry.”
The study was conducted between April 21 and May 7, 2020. The 434 U.S.-based professionals polled work full-time in senior roles for companies that directly manage warehouses, DCs, or fulfillment centers; have insight into the operations of those facilities, are familiar with automation; and make or influence purchase decisions for their company.