More Manufacturers, Distributors Consider Implementing Automation


Nov 12, 2012

With a snapshot into the current state of automation in manufacturing and distribution, the Automation Alliance of the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) finds that cost savings, improved efficiencies and accuracy/speed are the most important factors driving increased automation for manufacturing and distribution facilities.

About three-fourths (74%) of respondents report planning or considering an automation project, according to a recent survey released by the group. Technologies that manufacturing and warehousing professionals believe will make a difference in their facilities include RFID, voice picking, automated storage, robotics and software.

Traditional material handling products such as racks, shelving and lift trucks top the list of planned expenditures for the next 12 months, but manufacturers and warehouse/distribution professionals plan to invest in automatic identification technologies, such as barcodes and RFID; dock equipment; conveyors; and totes/containers.

In addition, some highly automated technologies are also in the mix. Approximately, 22% of respondents plan to invest in automated storage technologies, 17% in automated guided vehicles (AGVs), 16% in robots, and about 12% in vertical lift modules and carousels.

When spending plans are translated into capital budgets for 2012 and 2013, they reflect actual increases for traditional material handling, automation equipment and software over prior-year spending. At least 85% of respondents reported that their plans for both years are more than or the same as their actual spending in 2011 in all three categories.