The simplest way to describe the overall findings from this year’s “Annual Warehouse and Distribution Center (DC) Equipment Survey” is that it’s “go-time” for investment in warehouse automation. The budget findings in our annual survey jumped up, with elevated interest and use levels for numerous types of materials handling automation, including mobile robots and other forms of warehouse robotics.
However, the findings suggest more than a crude swap out of human labor in favor of automation. Respondents to our 2022 survey—which asks readers about their spending outlook on warehouse automation, materials handling equipment, and related software—also shows an uptick in spending on labor as well as heightened interest in training.
The underlying drivers are that the economy has stayed strong, e-commerce keeps growing, and companies with distribution operations are scrambling to keep up. Under these pressures, the response is led by going with more automation, but it also includes spending to ensure enough labor force while also training people to properly interact with all the new-fangled automation.
Call it a two-pronged approach to keeping up with e-commerce fulfillment volumes. It starts with more automation, but it doesn’t end there.
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