The pressures of the coronavirus pandemic are driving increased demand for logistics automation, as companies seek to survive changing market conditions while meeting increasing consumer expectations, according to a survey from material handling systems provider Honeywell Intelligrated.
More than half of U.S. companies are increasingly open to invest in automation, led by three sectors: e-commerce (66%); grocery, food and beverage (59%); and logistics (55%), the “2020 Honeywell Intelligrated Automation Investment Study” shows.
“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,” Chris Feuell, chief marketing officer at Honeywell Intelligrated, said in a release. “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.”
The study showed that consumers want seamless integration between their online and in-store experiences for shopping, buying, and delivery, Feuell said. Companies are adapting by deploying micro-fulfillment strategies, relying on automation solutions to improve speed and accuracy of order processing, fulfillment, and delivery.
The pandemic has also revealed some of the shortcomings of traditional labor, as social distancing in the workplace has created physical hurdles to productivity. As an alternative, Honeywell Intelligrated’s survey showed that the top solutions seen as very important by companies for future competitiveness include warehouse execution software (48%), order picking technology (46%), and robotic solutions (44%). All three options are expected to receive further investment soon, the company said.
The 2020 Honeywell Intelligrated Automation Investment Study was conducted April 21 to May 7, 2020 in collaboration with KRC Research, an independent third-party research firm not affiliated with Honeywell or its business groups. 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.