A recently released Softeon study on user perceptions of distribution center automation and software found that only 12.9% of companies are satisfied with their current levels of DC automation. The survey, of 187 logistics professionals across a wide range of industry sectors, also found that 42.1% were unsatisfied with their current levels of DC automation, with another 45.9% just partly satisfied.
What’s holding companies back from the adoption of additional automation? Not surprisingly, the upfront cost of automation topped the list of barriers, scoring an average of 5.8 on a rating scale where 1 was the lowest barrier, and 7 was the highest. ROI concerns and lack of flexibility were the second and third-ranked barriers, respectively.
“Given the significant cost, labor and cycle time challenges shippers are currently facing, I am not surprised interest in DC automation is at such high levels,” said Dan Gilmore, chief marketing officer at Softeon, adding, “This study provides a unique and detailed view of how companies are thinking about the options, both in hardware and software.”
- 11.6% of respondents said they “knew a lot” about newer Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) solutions, with another 6.3% having deployed WES. That compares to 34.3% who "don't know much" about WES and 47.8% who "know a little” about the technology.
- 37% of respondents said company executives view logistics excellence as essential to overall company success.
- Companies view their logistics process effectiveness much higher than their logistics technology effectiveness, with a combined 54% rating process effectiveness as either 'highly effective" or "effective" versus 39% who felt the same way about their use of technology.
- Out of a list of 11 distribution technologies, traditional radio frequency systems scored the highest on perceived attractiveness over the next three years, followed by number 2 mobile robots and, surprisingly, RFID at number 3.
- While companies rated their current Warehouse Management System’s core capabilities with a decent 4.6 average score on a 1 to 7 scale (7 = highest), scores were much lower for specific advanced features such as task interleaving and flexibility to meet new requirements, including material handling system integration.