Honeywell Report Suggests Using Automation to Avoid Stagnancy and Track Performance for DC Logistics

July 20, 2022 by Caitlin Nicholson

As logistics providers face increasing consumer demand and disruption, automation plays a key role in stabilizing the supply chain via future-facing integration and worker specialization.

Warehouses and distribution centers (DCs) continue to face disruption in the wake of the pandemic. 

Global automation leader Honeywell, in partnership with Futurum Research, recently released their report Warehouse Automation: Future-proofing the Global Economy. In it, they propose that logistics providers can increase their efficiency and “future-proof the global economy” via automation integration focused on the long term.


Supply chain disruption and consumer demand
Disruptions in the supply chain lead to hard to predict consumer demands. Image used courtesy of Canva


Demand and Disruption

With a growth in ecommerce and the effects of a global pandemic, distribution and fulfillment sectors face unforeseen and frequent holiday-like peaks in consumer demands. Distributors also encounter fulfillment strain with increasingly popular same-day and two-day instantaneous delivery quotas. On top of this, warehouses and DCs are forced to navigate employment challenges caused by labor shortages, poor employee retention, and mandated COVID-19 safety measures. 

worker and automation coexistence

Rather than making workers obsolete through automation, Futurum suggests that workers and automated technology work together. Image used courtesy of Canva


What is Future Proofing?

Future proofing mixes prediction with productivity to mitigate the ups and downs of what's to come. In distribution and fulfillment, this is especially important to securing a stable future. Based on research, analysis, and conversations with industry leaders, Futurum suggests the top ways logistics providers can future proof their operations.


Collaborative Automation

Where automation was once used to cut back on costs of labor at the expense of employees, Futurum believes that companies should work to create coexistence between automation and workers by assisting and operating alongside them. As technology takes on repetitive, difficult, and unsafe tasks, workers have greater opportunity for specialization.


Future Oriented Fulfillment

Strategies for the future should be put in place for warehouses and DCs to avoid stagnancy. Instead of being focused on available technologies, Futurum suggests testing new technologies for potential implementation, as well as tracking performance to generate strategies to optimize distribution and fulfillment operations. 


Long Term Leverage

Rather than focusing on short term automation solutions that produce quick profit, Futurum proposes building a “foundational infrastructure” of automation technology and securing partnerships to be able to meet fluctuating supply chain demands.


DC and Warehouse Automation

Automation technology in warehouses is still fairly new and underutilized, but as Futurum suggests, its inclusion with long term foresight is expected to reduce distributor and fulfillment strain. Digital and physical automation systems exist as options for warehouses and DCs. A warehouse management system (WMS), for instance, is used for supply chain management, focusing on workflow and everyday tasks. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are also an increasingly popular option, as they can carry packages from one location to another and free workers up to do more complex tasks.  


Safety and Performance

As companies face shifting supply chain demands and disruptions, Honeywell looks to the future. Starting out as a leader in control, Honeywell is now a top player in the aerospace, building, performance, and safety sectors. Their branch off, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solution (SPS), places particular emphasis on safety and performance.

Futurum is an independent research center with a focus on the digital landscape. Through their research, they provide insight to businesses on industry changes in order to bring forth innovation and leverage over competitors.