shippers investing in supply chain technology

Shippers Ready to Invest in Supply Chain Technology

Nov. 2, 2012
∙ 74% planning automation project; ∙ Order accuracy is most important performance indicator; ∙ Rack, shelving and lift trucks top hardware list; ∙Warehouse management software tops software list.

Cost savings, improved efficiencies and accuracy/speed are the most important drivers for automation investments for manufacturing and distribution facilities, according to the fifth in a series of automation reports titled Operational Performance and Investment Plans In Warehousing, Distribution and Manufacturing.  The report, released by the Automation Alliance of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), offers several other key takeaways:

∙ Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), voice picking, automated storage, robotics and software are the technologies manufacturing and warehousing professionals believe will make a difference in their facilities;

∙ For warehousing/distribution respondents, order accuracy is the most important performance indicator in evaluating their facility’s performance, followed by on-time delivery and order fill rates;

∙ Manufacturing respondents indicate that on-time deliveries, order accuracy and throughput are their top three performance indicators;

∙ Seventy-four percent (74%) of respondents indicate they are planning or considering an automation project;

∙ The most important factors impacting their operations over the next 12 months are customer demand levels (79%), customer requirements and mandates (70%), operational excellence goals (66%), internal cost constraints (63%) and new product requirements (46%). Those are followed closely by sustainability (44%) and government regulations (39%);

∙ Traditional material handling products such as rack, shelving and lift trucks top the list of planned expenditures during the next 12 months. Still, both manufacturers and warehouse/distribution professionals are planning to invest in automatic identification technologies, such as bar codes and RFID, dock equipment, conveyors and totes/containers.

∙ Some 22% of respondents plan to invest in automated storage technologies, 17% in AGVs, 16% in robots and approximately 12% in vertical lift modules and carousels;

∙ More than 40% of respondents plan investments in supply chain software, including warehouse management systems (42%), labor/workforce management (33%), transportation management (31%), ERP (27%) and supply chain visibility solutions (25%).

Affinity Research Solutions ( conducted the survey on behalf of the Automation Alliance, contacting 383 qualified recipients, including 254 (66%) respondents from warehousing/distribution and 129 (34%) from manufacturing.

The Automation Alliance includes several Industry Groups of MHIA, including the Integrated Systems and Controls Council (ISC), the Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems (AS/RS), Automatic Guided Vehicle Systems (AGVS),Conveyor & Sortation Systems (CSS), and Order Fulfillment Solutions (OFS) Industry Groups of MHIA.

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