Companies planning increased automation: Honeywell study

CHARLOTTE, NC – More than half of US companies are increasingly open to invest in automation to survive changing market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Honeywell study.

The 2020 Honeywell Intelligrated Automation Investment Study reveals that the e-commerce (66 per cent); grocery, food and beverage (59 per cent); and logistics (55 per cent) 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 centres to embrace remote operations and social distancing work processes,” said Chris Feuell, chief marketing officer at Honeywell Intelligrated. “Recent consumer studies have shown increased online purchases by 28 per cent globally and buy online/pickup in store is expected to increase by more than 60 per cent in 2020. 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.”

With social distancing becoming more common in the workplace, automation and connected solutions can help continue operations where traditional labor physically cannot. The use of robotic technology, guided work solutions and computer-controlled equipment is seen as very important by companies for future competitiveness. Warehouse execution software (48 per cent), order picking technology (46 per cent) and robotic solutions (44 per cent) – currently three of the most widely implemented solutions – are most expected to receive further investment soon, according to the study. While these solutions are seen from the study to be essential to business success, the study reveals less than one-third of companies have scaled any of these solutions to date.

While nearly all companies have experienced positive business outcomes from automation solutions they have implemented, cost is by far the largest barrier to further investment, the study shows. More than half of the consumer-packaged goods industry sees the cost of implementation as a major barrier in further automation.

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. The 434 US-based professionals polled work full-time in senior roles for companies that directly manage warehouses, DCs or fulfillment centres; have insight into the operations of those facilities, are familiar with automation; and make or influence purchase decisions for their company.