The Future Of Warehousing- My colleague from ARC Advisory Group, Clint Reiser, in partnership with DC Velocity magazine (see DC Velocity Infographic), recently completed survey-based research on the changing practices, priorities, and expectations of warehouse executives. Many individuals reading this article are likely informed about recent sales and adoption trends through supplier press releases and user case studies. ARC’s survey-based research findings complement these other sources of information with a broad-based view of practitioner perspectives, priorities, and expectations that provide insights on the order of magnitude with respect to current trends and future developments.
As noted in prior articles, our survey respondents chose WMS as the one warehouse technology investment that is the highest priority/importance to their organizations over the next three years. But the most impressive statistic from the research is that a full 96 percent of survey respondents indicated that they expect the warehouse automation value proposition (in comparison to the manual alternative) to increase over the next 3 years. Let’s take a deeper dive into the warehouse automation findings from this research.
Widespread Interest in Warehouse Automation
Warehouse automation is expected to become an increasingly desirable option to the manual alternative over the next few years. But that doesn’t directly indicate a high likelihood of investment in these technologies. However, when asked about the likelihood of warehouse automation investment over the next three years, 60 percent of respondents indicated it was “very likely” while an additional 19 percent considered it “likely” (the remainder chose “somewhat likely” or “not at all likely”). So broad-based investment activity is expected as well. The next logical question is “Why is warehouse automation being viewed in such a positive light?” Our findings indicate that changes in the operating environment; such as labor costs, labor shortages, and increased throughput requirements; are the primary influential factors. Meanwhile, our findings also suggest that advancements in automation, such as lower costs and scalability improvements, are supporting factors.