IMHX is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC


Meet Zebra Technologies

Exhibiting at IMHX 2022

Stand 5B90

Ahead of IMHX 2022, Melonee Wise - VP Robotics Automation at Zebra Technologies, chatted to us about all things IMHX, new product launches, sustainability and key market trends to watch out for.

To learn more about Zebra Technologies, visit them at IMHX 2022 or head over to the Zebra Technologies website.

The warehousing and logistics industry is facing some important challenges and changes following a global pandemic, supply chain disruption, the rapid growth of ecommerce with its need for speed of delivery and returns management, and a labour shortage that’s making hiring, training, and retaining front-line workers harder.

But we’re finding that warehouse operators are also modernising - nearly nine in 10 warehouse operators around the world agree they must implement new technology to be competitive in the on-demand economy, with 80% confirming the pandemic has prompted them to evolve and modernize more quickly, according to the latest Warehousing Vision Study by Zebra Technologies. For example, 92% in Europe and 94% globally will invest in software that helps automate analytics and decision-making.

In Europe specifically, over three-quarters of operators have accelerated their efforts, says the Zebra study. They’re turning their focus and spending most heavily toward technologies that support workforce augmentation and workflow automation. For example, 23% of European warehouse operators have already deployed some form of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) today, which is in line with the global trend (27%). Within five years, that number is expected to grow to 88% in Europe and 90% around the world. Most warehouse operators both in Europe (88%) and globally (90%) will deploy AMRs for person-to-goods (P2G) picking, material movements and other automated inventory moves. 

However, decision-makers should take note, as only 35% in Europe and 41% globally completely agree implementing warehouse technologies such as robotics and devices can help attract and retain workers, even though most associates who work alongside AMRs today confirm they have helped increase productivity and reduce walking/travel time (83%), reduce errors (73%), and enable advancement to new roles or opportunities (65%).

Zebra is creating and growing an ecosystem of automation for its warehousing and logistics customers and working closely with Zebra partners to bring these solutions to customers on their automation journeys. New products and features, R&D investment, partners, and strategic acquisitions all play a role in building the best ecosystem possible for our customers.

In 2021 Zebra acquired Fetch Robotics, with its broad portfolio of AMRs to meet the needs of warehousing operators looking to solve a problem or leverage an opportunity. This year, Zebra also acquired Matrox Imaging, to expand its machine vision portfolio. Alongside Zebra’s machine vision and fixed industrial scanning cameras and Zebra Aurora™ software, customers can now reap the rewards of Matrox’s Design Assistant software, software development kits (SDKs), smart cameras, 3D sensors, vision controllers, input/output (I/O) cards, and frame grabbers which are used to capture, inspect, assess, and record data from industrial vision systems in factory automation, electronics and pharmaceutical packaging, semiconductor inspection, and more.

We’ve also launched the new ET4x series of rugged tablets. These new enterprise-grade tablets are Android™ based, and support Wi-Fi 6 and 5G – helping increase worker productivity and ensuring connectivity in any environment. They’re ideal for a wide range of use cases for delivery drivers and fulfilment personnel in transportation and logistics.

As a responsible corporate citizen, Zebra is committed to strong corporate governance practices and environmental and social initiatives that benefit all stakeholders. This includes a focus on improving the environmental impact of our operations, products, and solutions. Zebra is committed to pursuing science-based targets for carbon emissions reductions at Zebra sites and in our supply chain and is reducing energy in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy Better Plants programme.

Our resource conservation initiatives include, but are not limited to, waste reduction, circular economy product innovation with certified refurbished devices, eco-packaging and sustainable product design. Zebra’s Circular Economy Program was recognized with a 2021 Sustainability Service of the Year award by the Business Intelligence Group.

We’re seeing warehousing operators moving from ‘islands of automation’ meaning individual examples of automation in their operations, to ‘ecosystems of automation’ where increasing numbers and types of operations are automated but also joined-up, together with augmentation of warehousing workers using handheld devices and wearables to get the job done. This is being achieved by taking a solutions approach to business challenges, bringing together tech partners with the right hardware, software, and services for the long-term.  

The global pandemic, supply chain disruption, challenges around labour hiring and retention, and the on-demand economy are driving and accelerating the move to ecosystems of automation and augmentation of workers. Technology, including AMRs, data analytics, and devices are filling labour gaps, taking on the tasks workers don’t want or need to do, thereby also improving the worker experience, and providing greater visibility, speed, and efficiency to meet customer expectations around delivery choice and speed. For a deeper look, I’d direct readers to read Zebra’s warehousing vision study, which presents the challenges and experiences of decision-makers and associates, as well as their technology commitments in the coming years.

I’ll also be giving a workshop “Take your pick: order, batch, case, or pallet picking using AMRs” and it’d be great to see you there to learn more.