Warehouse technology investments to soar says Zebra

Asia Pacific survey points to focus on advanced hardware and software, especially related to staff

Warehouse technology investments to soar says Zebra
Warehousing is likely to undergo a new wave of IT investment


The Asia Pacific warehousing sector will see immense technology investment before the decade ends, according to IT services provider Zebra Technologies.

Based on its Warehouse Vision Report survey of warehouse executives in the region, Zebra believes the rolling IT revolution is on the upswing again as they seek to create ‘smarter’ warehousing operations and more of them but in smaller footprints.

This is being driven by ever-burgeoning ecommerce pressures, with executives armed with greater transparency and control seeking to boost productivity, slash transport costs and expedite merchandise shipments.

"Technology-enhanced warehouses allow businesses to monitor everyday operations in a way that can be measured and analysed," Zebra regional technologies senior technical director Wayne Harper says.

"This visibility gives quality insights that mould an informed strategy, ensuring only the best outcomes are achieved.

"As found in Zebra’s vision study, technology will drive the future of warehousing.

"Based on the research, there will be a major shift in this space, with 74 per cent of respondents planning to outfit their warehouse staff with technology, and only 24 per cent said they expect to continue using pen and paper in 2020.

"Locally, we have seen an increase in interest and subsequently application for handheld and RFID devices to be integrated into warehouses across varying industries.

"Particularly with retail, to cope with the evolving supply chain pressures driven by consumer demand, organisations need to adopt an approach that will see costs reduced and parcels delivered on time.

"It will be interesting to see how this evolves as we approach the busiest time of year for retail."

Zebra says the survey’s key findings are:

  • In Asia Pacific, 74 per cent of respondents have plans to outfit their warehouse staff with technology, specifically to raise investment in internet of things (72 per cent), barcode scanning technologies (70 per cent), tablet computers (69 per cent), big data/data analytics (67 per cent), and warehouse/truck loading automation (64 per cent) in the next five years
  • Half of the respondents say warehouse investments are mainly driven by the need to reduce transportation costs, while 41 per cent demand shorter delivery times, and 38 per cent see the need to accommodate new supplier and trading partner locations. Other factors include change to inventory policies (33 per cent), talent/skill shortages (28 per cent), and omni-channel pressures (21 per cent)
  • From now to 2020, companies surveyed spoke of expansion plans in terms of total volume of items shipped (74 per cent), automation of processes (69 per cent), annual inventory turns (64 per cent), number of stock keeping units [SKU] (57 per cent), and employees (56 per cent)
  • Currently, 81 per cent of respondents are using legacy warehouse management software (WMS), and this number is projected to drop by half from 81 per cent to 40 per cent in 2020. By contrast, full-featured WMS and real-time location system (RTLS) will grow its usage by an average of 29 per cent in five years
  • Executives surveyed expect to see growth in percentage of inbound items that will be barcoded in the next five years, from 59 per cent to 84 per cent
  • In inventory management, 86 per cent of respondents said they will use mobile handheld computers and tablets with real-time access to WMS, while 79 per cent of them plan to use RFID-equipped solutions. Only 24 per cent of those polled expect to continue using pen and paper in 2020. 

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