More than half of U.S. companies are now open to invest in automation to survive changing market conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic, a Honeywell Intelligrated study finds.
The company’s 2020 Automation Investment Study reveals that the ecommerce (66%); grocery, food and beverage (59%); and logistics (55%) industries are most willing to invest more in automation.
“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,” said Chief Marketing Officer Chris Feuell.
Online consumer purchases have risen by 28% globally and buy online/pickup in store is expected to increase by more than 60% in 2020, he observes.
“Consumers want seamless integration between online and in-store shopping, buying and delivery experiences, and companies are adapting by deploying micro-fulfillment strategies, relying on automation solutions to improve speed and accuracy of order processing, fulfillment and delivery, and to optimize productivity and return on investment.”
Warehouse execution software (48%), order picking technology (46%) and robotic solutions (44%) – currently three of the most widely implemented solutions – are expected to receive most of further investment soon, according to the study.
While the study finds these solutions to be essential to business success, it also reveals less than one-third of companies have scaled any of these solutions to date.
The biggest barrier to further investment is cost, Honeywell found. More than half of the consumer-packaged goods industry sees the cost of implementation as a major barrier in further automation.
“Companies are investing in technology to improve employee and customer safety, but these technologies, such as voice-guided solutions, and leveraging data-driven insights to make better operational decisions, are also easing the burden of tight turnaround times and leading to better customer interactions.” Feuell said.
“There are several scalable solutions available where companies can see an immediate return on investment at a lower cost of entry.”