A study by Zebra Technologies Corporation found that mobile technology investment is a top priority for 36 per cent of organisations.

E-commerce demands faster field operations: study

A study by Zebra Technologies Corporation found that mobile technology investment is a top priority for 36 per cent of organisations and a growing priority for an additional 58 per cent, to keep up with rapidly evolving and increasing customer demand. The findings of the Future of Field Operations report indicate investments will be made in new technologies and enterprise mobile devices to enhance frontline worker productivity and customer satisfaction in field operations including fleet management, field services, proof of delivery and direct store delivery workflows.
“Driven by the acceleration of e-commerce along with customers’ heightened expectations and more focus within companies on differentiating service levels, the field operations industry is rapidly adapting the way it looks at its mobile technology investments,” said director of vertical marketing strategy, manufacturing, transportation & logistics at Zebra Technologies Jim Hilton. “Our study shows how growing challenges related to the on-demand economy drive organisations to adopt transformative technologies such as augmented reality and intelligent labels to provide visibility and integrate business intelligence for a performance edge.”

Key survey findings

Equipping frontline workers with enterprise mobile devices remains a priority to stay competitive.

  • The survey shows today only one-fifth of organisations have a majority of their field-based operations using enterprise mobile devices. This is estimated to reach 50 per cent in five years.
  • Respondents indicate most organisations intend to invest in handheld mobile computers, mobile printers and rugged tablets. From 2018 to 2023, handheld mobile computer usage with built-in barcode scanners is forecasted to grow by 45 per cent, mobile printers by 53 per cent and rugged tablets by 54 per cent. The higher levels of inventory, shipment and asset accuracy provided by using these devices is expected to increase business revenues.
  • A key driver of productivity, efficiency and cost-savings in field operations is ensuring ruggedised enterprise devices replace traditional consumer ones. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents usually or always conduct a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis of business devices prior to making a capital expenditure. Only 32 per cent of respondents believe that consumer smartphones have better TCO than rugged devices.

Tertiary concerns and post-sale factors are important for organisations when evaluating frontline worker enterprise mobile devices.

  • The survey reveals these TCO considerations when investing in new frontline enterprise technology: replacement (47 per cent), initial device (44 per cent), application development (44 per cent) and programming/IT (40 per cent).
  • Almost 40 per cent of respondents say device management and support costs are important as well as customer service (37 per cent), device lifecycle cadence (36 per cent) and repair costs (35 per cent). Such factors increasingly influence the purchase cycle, showing that those who do not provide clear value or cannot control these costs will quickly be overtaken by those who do.

Emerging technologies and faster networks are disrupting field operations.

  • The survey shows seven in ten organisations agree faster mobile networks will be a key driver for field operations investment to enable the use of disruptive technology.
  • Significant industry game-changers will be droids and drones, with over a third of decision makers citing them as the biggest disruptors.
  • The use of smart technologies such as sensors, RFID, and intelligent labels also play a role in transforming the industry. More than a quarter of respondents continue to view augmented/virtual reality (29 per cent), sensors (28 per cent), RFID and intelligent labels (28 per cent) as well as truck loading automation (28 per cent) as disruptive factors.

Key regional findings

  • Asia Pacific: 44 per cent of respondents consider truck loading automation will be among one of the most disruptive technologies, compared respectively to 28 per cent globally.
  • Europe, Middle East and Africa: 70 per cent of respondents agree e-commerce is driving the need for faster field operations.
  • Latin America: 83 per cent agree that faster wireless networks (4G/5G) are driving greater investment in new field operations technologies, compared with 70 per cent of the global sample.
  • North America: 36 per cent of respondents plan to implement rugged tablets in the next year.

Survey background and methodology

  • The Future of Field Operations Vision study reports why mobile technology investment is a top priority for organisations, with over half planning investments to keep pace with more proactive, customer-centric, business-driven systems.
  • The online survey interviewed 2,075 mobility decision makers from 20 countries across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Smarts in retail: survey finds tablets useful

Survey finds two-thirds of retail store workers believe they can provide better customer service with tablets – less than 15% of shoppers completely trust retailers to protect personal data.
Zebra has revealed the results of its 11th annual Global Shopper Study, analysing the attitudes, opinions, and expectations of shoppers, retail workers and retail decision makers. The results show that two-thirds (66 per cent) of surveyed workers believe that if they are equipped with tablets, they could provide better customer service.
Fifty five per cent of surveyed retail store workers agree that their company is understaffed, and nearly one-half (49%) feel overworked. Store workers cite frustration with their inability to assist customers as 42% find they have little time to help shoppers because of pressure to get other tasks completed. Another 28% claim that it’s difficult to get information to help shoppers. Most surveyed retail decision makers (83%) and store workers (74%) concur that shoppers can have a better experience with technology-equipped sales workers.
Meanwhile, only 13% of surveyed shoppers completely trust retailers to protect their personal data, the lowest level of trust among 10 different industries. Seventy three per cent of surveyed shoppers prefer flexibility to control how their personal information is used.
“Our study reveals shopper expectations are on the rise,” said senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Zebra Technologies Jeff Schmitz. “While retailers are addressing fulfilment challenges, they also need to provide more trusted, personalised shopping that gives customers what they want, when, where, and how they want it.”
The study also identified diverging expectations on the impact of automation between retailers and store workers. Nearly 80% of retail decision makers – compared to 49% of store workers – agree that staff checkout areas are becoming less necessary due to new technologies that can automate checkout. Also, more than half of retail decision makers (52%) are converting point-of-sale (POS) space to self-checkout, and 62% are transforming it for online order pickup.
More than one-half of shoppers (51%) believe they are better connected with their smartphones than store workers. Retailers are investing in edge technologies to combat this gap. Nearly 60% of retailers plan to increase their spending on handheld mobile computers by more than 6%, and more than one-in-five retailers (21%) plan to spend greater than 10% on rugged tablets over the next three years.
The key regional findings in the Asia-Pacific were:

  • Sixty-two per cent of retail workers view their employer more positively if provided with a mobile device for work-related activities.
  • Nearly half (49%) of retail workers say that mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices help them do their job better.

 

More than half in under two hours by 2028

Zebra Technologies Corporation has revealed the results of the Asia-Pacific edition of its Future of Fulfilment Vision Study, a body of research analysing how manufacturers, transport and logistics (T&L) firms and retailers are preparing to meet the growing needs of the on-demand economy.
Manufacturing and T&L global director at Zebra Technologies Jim Hilton said: “Driven by the always-connected, tech-savvy shopper, retailers, manufacturers and logistics companies are collaborating and swapping roles in uncharted ways to meet shoppers’ omnichannel product fulfillment and delivery expectations. Zebra’s Future of Fulfillment Vision Study found that 95 per cent of survey respondents in Asia-Pacific agreed that e-commerce is driving the need for faster delivery. In response, companies are turning to digital technology and analytics to bring heightened automation, merchandise visibility and business intelligence to the supply chain to compete in the on-demand consumer economy.”
Key survey findings

  • 67 per cent of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery by 2023 and 55 per cent anticipate delivery within a two-hour window by 2028. In addition, 96 per cent of survey respondents expect to use crowdsourced delivery or a network of drivers that choose to complete a specific order by 2028.
  • 92 per cent of the respondents cited capital investment and operating costs of implementing an omnichannel operation as a key challenge. Only 42 per cent of supply chain respondents reported operating at an omnichannel level today. In contrast, an estimated 73 per cent of consumers shop across multiple channels.
  • Seven in ten surveyed executives agree that more retailers will continue to turn stores into fulfilment centres that accommodate product returns. By 2023, 99 per cent of retailers plan to implement buy online/pick up in store to allow a more seamless fulfilment process.
  • In APAC, 93 per cent of respondents agreed that accepting and managing product returns remain a challenge. Reverse logistics remain underdeveloped and significant opportunities for improvement remain. Today, 58 per cent of retail respondents add a surcharge for returns, and 71 per cent have no plans to change this in the future. Meanwhile, 71 per cent of survey respondents agree that more retailers will turn stores into fulfilment centres that can accommodate product returns.
  • Today, 55 per cent of organisations are still using inefficient, manual pen-and-paper based processes to enable omnichannel logistics. By 2021, handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners will be used by 99 per cent of respondents for omnichannel logistics. The upgrade from manual pen-and-paper spreadsheets to handheld computers with barcode scanners or tablets will improve omnichannel logistics by providing more real-time access to warehouse management systems.
  • Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and inventory management platforms are expected to grow from 32 per cent today to 95 per cent in 2028. RFID-enabled software, hardware and tagging solutions, offer up-to-the-minute, item-level inventory lookup, heightening inventory accuracy and shopper satisfaction while reducing out of stocks, overstocks and replenishment errors.
  • Future-oriented decision makers revealed that next generation supply chains will reflect connected, business-intelligence and automated solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transport and labour. Surveyed executives expect the most disruptive technologies to be drones, driverless/autonomous vehicles, wearable and mobile technology, and robotics.

In association with the launching of the report, Zebra introduced a new mobile printer and RFID tool that will help drive better efficiencies both on and off-premise. Zebra says the new ZQ300 Series mobile printers empower workers in the field, in the warehouse or on the retail floor with on-demand printing capabilities. Meanwhile, the FX9600 fixed UHF RFID readers will enable enterprises to keep up with high volumes of cargo movements in the warehouse or dock doors.
 
 

Your MHD article: 'Make it' in I4.0

Jason Low

You snooze, you lose! That’s probably the best phrase to sum up what manufacturers across the world are experiencing in today’s highly competitive landscape. Manufacturers can no longer take a ‘wait and see’ approach as they are met with the opportunities and challenges posed by the concept of Industry 4.0. Well, it’s actually not just a concept, but a reality, that defines how manufacturers automate and adopt technologies that make them smarter.
A nation’s economy is tightly intertwined with its manufacturing output. According to the World Trade Organisation, 80% of the global trade activity between all regions is classified as manufactured goods, versus 20% as services. It is no wonder, then, that countries around the world are locked in a competitive race to become the next manufacturing hub. And many nations in the Asia Pacific are strong contenders.
For the last 20 years, China has been a steadfast superfactory for low-cost, low-value manufacturing, supplying the world with everyday commodities from food to apparel. As China moves into high-value manufacturing, a vacancy for low-value manufacturing has opened up. With its huge local market of 1.2 billion consumers, a large base of university graduates and engineers, and a friendly policy environment, India exhibits the potential to take over China to become the powerhouse for low-value manufacturing in the near future.
Comparatively developed countries like Australia, Japan, Korea, and Singapore are already in the business of manufacturing complex, innovative products. Singapore has sustained strong manufacturing growth for the last 12 months as of August, painting a bright picture for the future economy. Thailand retains a strong foothold in high-value manufacturing, enjoying a stable production in the automotive, electronics, food, and chemical-related industries. Indonesia’s manufacturing sector continues to be the nation’s biggest GDP contributor, despite a decline in the past three years.
Although these APAC countries are at different stages of transformation, and they all have their eyes on technology adoption to boost their manufacturing sector. Their intentions are telling from the findings in Zebra Technologies’ Manufacturing Vision Study.
Industry 4.0 will shake things up for manufacturers
One key insight from the study is the rise of Industry 4.0 in the region. This refers to the creation of smart factories that give manufacturers actionable visibility of their operations at every stage.
Manufacturers will be able to gain visibility of their goods at every stage of production, and the status of their assets through both proactive and reactive services to minimise downtime. In addition, the increased operational visibility will allow these manufacturers to ensure that its people are accounted for and optimise their productivity on the plant floor. With smart technologies, smart factories can ensure that enterprise processes and regulatory compliance are met throughout the manufacturing cycle. Finally, smart factories also benefit from increased security and safety.
To accomplish that, employees and plant floors are equipped with a range of technologies such as wearable technologies, Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions, and real-time location systems (RTLS) to achieve visibility over every aspect of their operations, including goods, assets, and processes.  The study estimates the number of manufacturers in the region supporting fully connected factories would nearly triple over the next five years to reach 46 per cent by 2022, significantly ahead of the worldwide average.

Technology adoption is non-negotiable 
While there are lingering concerns that automation and robotics will eventually displace the low-skill jobs on the factory floor, many industry experts and economists concede that it will be an irreversible trend. The earlier the manufacturers shore up technology and start upskilling the workers, the less painful the transition will be later.
In today’s vast and busy factories, it can be daunting to do everything manually, not to mention it is extremely slow, inefficient, and prone to mistakes. Increasingly, factory workers are offloading tasks to their technological helpers. The Zebra survey shows that in 2022, 72% of factories will arm their workers with mobile technology such as handheld computers, printers, and scanners. These mobile devices can assist the workers in looking up and recording information, and generating and inputting product labels.
Wearable and voice-directed technology are on the rise too, with 65% and 51% of respondents planning to implement them for the workers. While wearable technology is relatively new, it unlocks potential for monitoring worker safety and locations in the factory, therefore allowing operation managers to quickly attend to workplace safety events and more effectively allocate manpower in different stages, leading to improved productivity.
Voice-directed technology, on the other hand, is proving to be popular for large companies managing immense factories. Voice technology allows workers to carry out a task with both hands and receive or give instructions at the same time, elevating efficiency and productivity. What’s more, many of the big manufacturers also rely on voice technology to efficiently coordinate for just-in-time (JIT) shipments, which are typically hectic and labour intensive.
RFID, a cousin to barcode technology and a building block for IoT, is also playing a key role in connecting the factories from point to point, corner to corner, by giving the goods a digital voice and allowing them to be ‘heard’ and, therefore, tracked in real time. An RFID tag can contain much more information than what is traditionally printed on a pallet, including detailed work instructions, bill of materials, and tracking numbers, helping workers better move the goods through a production line. Today, RFID is used to vastly improve order accuracy and traceability of an item. By 2022, only 9% of the factories will be devoid of RFID.
Finally, RTLS are becoming popular among manufacturers, too. In the past, manufacturers only tracked their products at the goods-in and goods-out stages of the process, making it extremely challenging to accurately locate the source of a quality issue should one occur. This has contributed to unnecessary spending on rectifying the issue. RTLS comes to the rescue by illuminating the typically dark, obscure production process and monitoring quality issues.
That is not the only benefit. Manufacturers can also deploy RTLS to collect critical data about assets including location, stage, and condition – actionable information for factory managers to make better business decisions. These data can also be sent quickly to internal and external suppliers, so they can respond to restocking requests or demand surge swiftly. Unsurprisingly, by 2022, more than 55% of factories will be furnished with RTLS.
Conclusion
Manufacturing is no longer about simply making things. It will be about making high-quality things in the precise moment when they are needed – and even where they are needed (with 3D printing). Manufacturers also need to increasingly diversify their product variants, adding to the complexity in production. With trends such as mobility, robotics, automation, and IoT, the competition is heating up in the manufacturing industry.
By 2022, half of the manufacturers in APAC will have smart factories, compared to one third as the global average. Are you ready to make it big by turning your operations into an intelligent enterprise, or will you choose to stay behind?
Jason Low is the APAC lead for Specialty Printing Group, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific. For more information visit www.zebra.com.   
 

Achieve your enterprise’s full intelligence potential

Zebra Technologies Corporation has revealed the results of its inaugural ‘Intelligent Enterprise Index’. This global survey analyses where companies are on the route to becoming an intelligent enterprise, how they are connecting the physical and digital worlds to improve visibility, efficiencies and growth.
Globally, 48 per cent are on the path to becoming intelligent enterprises, scoring between 50-75 points on the overall index. Only five per cent exceeded 75 points. In comparison, Asia Pacific respondents scored above the global average, with 51 per cent of those polled scoring between the 50-75 points, but merely two per cent were above the 75-point benchmark that qualify them to be considered an ‘intelligent’ enterprise.
The Intelligent Enterprise Index measures to what extent companies today are meeting the criteria that define today’s intelligent enterprise. Some of the criteria include Internet of Things (IoT) vision and adoption plan, as well as business engagement in developing a return on investment for IoT. The criteria were identified by leading executives, industry experts and policymakers across different industries at the 2016 Strategic Innovation Symposium: The Intelligent Enterprise, which was hosted by Zebra in collaboration with the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH) last year.
“An ‘intelligent enterprise’ is one that leverages ties between the physical and digital worlds to enhance visibility and mobilise actionable insights that create better customer service, drive operational efficiencies or enable new business models,” said Tom Bianculli, chief technology officer at Zebra.
“This is a journey for enterprise organisations, so we wanted to see where most companies are in the process. Clearly, many are still forming their IoT strategies, but we are seeing segments that have identified targeted use cases and are aggressively deploying solutions.”
The framework of an Intelligent Enterprise is based on technology that integrate cloud computing, mobility, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to automatically ‘sense’ information from enterprise assets. Operational data from these assets, including status, location, utilisation, or preferences, is then ‘analysed’ to provide actionable insights, which can then be mobilised to the right person at the right time so they can be ‘acted’ upon to drive better, more timely decisions by users anywhere, at any time.
Asia-Pacific key survey findings

  • IoT vision is strong and investment set to increase. In APAC, 38 per cent of companies spend more than $1 million towards IoT annually, and 80 per cent expect that number to increase in the next one to two years. In fact, 67 per cent of APAC companies expect their IoT investment to increase by 11 per cent or more during this time. However, 39 per cent of companies today have not executed on their IoT plans or do not have any plans at all. Although only 36 per cent currently have company-wide deployment, it is expected that 65 per cent will have it deployed company-wide in the future.
  • Customer service is driving IoT. Seventy-one per cent of companies claim the largest driver of IoT investment is improving the customer service. In the future, increasing revenue (54 percent) and expanding into new markets (53 percent) are expected to be the largest drivers.
  • Business engagement is top of mind, but culture should be given more consideration. Eighty-one per cent of companies have a method in place to measure ROI from their IoT plan, and 73 per cent have IoT plans that address both the cultural and process changes necessary to implement it.
  • Many companies lack an adoption plan. Fifty-four per cent of companies expect resistance to adopt their IoT solution, yet don’t have a plan in place to address it. Only 27 per cent who expect resistance, have a plan to address it.
  • Companies keep employees informed, but there is room for more. Approximately 83 per cent of companies share information from their IoT solutions with their employees more than once a day, of which half of these employers share in real or near-real time. However, only 34 per cent provide actionable information to all employees, and information is provided either via email (69 percent) or as raw data (67 per cent).

Survey background and methodology

  • The online survey was fielded from 3-23 August 2017 across a wide range of segments, including healthcare, manufacturing, retail and transportation and logistics.
  • In total, 908 IT decision makers from nine countries were interviewed, including the US, UK/Great Britain, France, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil. Of these, about a third were from the APAC markets, including China, India, and Australia/New Zealand.
  • Eleven metrics were used to understand where companies are on the path to becoming an Intelligent Enterprise, including: IoT Vision, Business Engagement, Technology Solution Partner, Adoption Plan, Change Management Plan, Point of use Application, Security & Standards, Lifetime Plan, Architecture/Infrastructure, Data Plan and Intelligent Analysis.

 

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