70% of Indian & APAC Warehouses to Automate Workflows by 2024

70% of Indian & APAC Warehouses to Automate Workflows by 2024

Zebra Technologies Corporation has released the findings of its 2023 Global Warehousing Study.  The study highlights the importance of enhancing employee value and retention, with 70% of Indian and Asia Pacific (APAC) warehouse decision-makers planning to automate workflows by 2024 for more customer-centric tasks. The study further confirmed that 58% of warehouse decision-makers plan to deploy radio frequency identification (RFID) technology by 2028 which will help increase inventory visibility and reduce out-of-stocks.

Over the next five years, a majority of warehouse decision-makers plan to deploy fixed, passive or handheld RFID readers and fixed industrial scanning solutions that can better track assets, workers and goods throughout the warehouse environment. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of RFID, which has become a problem-solving tool for front-line workers in warehouses and other industries.

Accelerating Modernization to Manage Returns

Globally, 73% of warehouse decision-makers have or will be accelerating timelines of modernization projects, with decision-makers in APAC similarly align at 69%. This should help with returns management which climbed to the top operational challenge cited by nearly half of warehouse decision-makers surveyed (47% globally, 40% in APAC) — the study records an increase of 5 percentage points year-over-year in the APAC region. 

“Precise inventory updates and efficient return management are imperative in the warehousing sector. This becomes even more critical in the retail sector during the high-demand seasons in a country like India,” said Rajnish Gupta, VP India and Subcontinent, Zebra Technologies. “Warehouse operators must embrace best-in-class technological solutions to enhance operational efficiency, agility, and real-time decision-making during such high-demand times. This involves modernizing operations to manage returns effectively, improve inventory visibility, and enhance demand forecasting. Zebra supports its customers in the India with its series of Zebra printers (ZD421/ ZD411, ZQ600plus), mobile computers and tablets (TC53/TC58, ET60/ET65), RFID devices (ZT231 RFID, WS50 RFID), and software (VisibilityIQ Foresight) amongst others.”

This comes about as majority of warehouse decision-makers (76% globally, 75% in APAC) say they are under pressure to improve performance while adjusting to shifting consumer ecommerce demands. Inaccurate inventory and out-of-stocks continue to significantly challenge productivity according to nearly 80% of warehouse associates and decision-makers. In fact, both groups — associates (82% globally, 79% in APAC) and decision-makers (76% globally, 79% in APAC)—acknowledge they need better inventory management tools to achieve better accuracy and determine availability. To combat these issues, a significant portion of decision-makers (91% globally, 88% in APAC) are addressing this need, citing plans to invest in technology to increase visibility across the supply chain by 2028.

Optimizing Operations to Increase Visibility

Warehouse decision-makers are also augmenting their front-line workers by automating their warehouses to ultimately optimize their operations and increase their inventory visibility. According to a recent study by Interact Analysis, despite a recent slowdown in demand for automation projects (in part due to a reduction in warehousing construction), this demand is expected to return to growth in 2024.

Close to half of warehouse decision-makers believe automation increases worker efficiency and productivity by reducing manual picking, order errors and cycle time. Meanwhile, around eight-in-10 warehouse associates globally (81%) and in APAC (78%) agree using more technology and automation helps them meet or exceed productivity goals.

Complementing the rise in productivity, this empowers associates’ mentality towards their work - eight in ten warehouse associates (83% globally, 82% in APAC) surveyed also feel more valued when their employers provide them with technology and automation tools to help them work. Similarly, more than eight-in-ten of global (88%) and APAC (84%) warehouse decision-makers say adding warehouse technologies, including devices and robotics, attract and retain employees which is extremely important during labor shortages. More than half of the surveyed decision-makers plan to implement machine learning (52% globally, 57% in APAC) and predictive analytics (59% globally, 63% in APAC) software solutions in their facilities by 2028.

Prioritizing Sustainability in Decision-Making

Ultimately, warehouse decision-makers are choosing solutions based on their ability to help them build sustainable operations, driven largely by regulations, energy costs or shortages along with customer, worker and investor expectations. For example, 77% of global warehouse decision-makers are focused on reducing emissions and waste while 84% warehouse decision-makers recognize the importance of their warehouse technology solutions maximizing battery life. These sentiments are echoed within APAC as well, with 74% and 78% of APAC decision-makers resonating on these areas respectively.

Other sustainable elements decision-makers prioritize today include ensuring accurate mobile device swap-out time, connecting to energy monitoring software to maximize efficiency, offering buy-back and certified refurbishment/circular economy programs, and the use of reusable and recyclable materials. Beyond their own operations, 81% of global warehouse decision-makers (79% in APAC) also say it is important that technology vendors have sustainability measures in place for running their businesses. Ultimately, warehouses must continue to implement agile strategies to avoid inefficiencies, preserve resources, and provide employees with a performance edge.

KEY REGIONAL FINDINGS 

ASIA PACIFIC (APAC)

A majority of APAC warehouse associates and decision-makers are on the same page regarding the importance of achieving better accuracy and determining availability. Seventy-nine percent of both groups surveyed acknowledge they need better inventory management tools to drive these outcomes.

 EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA (EMEA)

43% of EMEA warehouse decision-makers cited returns management as the top operational challenge – an increase of 12 percentage points year-over-year.

LATIN AMERICA (LATAM)

83% of LATAM warehouse decision-makers say they are under pressure to improve performance while adjusting to shifting consumer ecommerce demands, the most of any region.

NORTH AMERICA

85% of warehouse associates in the region are concerned about managing workload and stress levels to meet productivity goals, exceeding the global average of 79%.

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