We all know that customers want their goods to be delivered in the shortest possible time and the growth of online shopping activities shows no sign of slowing down. According to the Office of National Statistics, 22% of UK purchases are made via the internet. If you exclude groceries then that number rises to between 45% and 50%, with strong growth predicted over the next few years.
Whilst the UK has led the adoption of eCommerce in Europe, it looks like the latest political initiatives to curb immigration will further tighten labour availability, and therefore it is the organisations that can increase staff efficiencies that will drive future growth.
Zebra has recently conducted a global Warehousing Vision Study, and of the 1,400 companies surveyed, 60% said labour efficiency and productivity are among their biggest challenges amidst rapid growth in the sector. In Europe, the survey estimates a 26% increase in Warehousing square footage over the next 5 years.
While growing the size of the warehouse will solve some issues, the real challenge is the productive use of that extra space. Investing in people will be critical to meeting demand. Whilst introducing new technologies creates its own difficulties, their adoption will almost certainly lead to better real time guidance, asset visibility and performance improvements.
Whilst total warehouse automation remains the goal for a few specialised companies, the Zebra survey identifies most respondents expecting partial automation, with processes such as real time location technology with RFID and further equipping workers with mobile devices being the main drivers of workflow efficiency gains.
Partial automation is the industry expectation and the demand for workers is set to increase by 17% by 2023, in tandem with the expansion of the sector. In a tightening labour market, worker experience is as important to attracting employees as process efficiency is to the employer. It will be the companies offering the best employment experience that can secure the staff and those adopting the most efficient workflow automation that can offer that best experience.
Zebra Barcoding and RFID technology provide key opportunities to improve productivity in your warehouse. If you are interested in implementing partial automation to boost efficiency and improve service, contact our team to discover what technology will best suit your needs.