Honeywell study finds companies will increase automation investments due to COVID-19

July 16, 2020
The study also finds that most companies are not prepared to withstand COVID-19’s negative economic impacts

More than half of U.S. companies are increasingly open to invest in automation to survive changing market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2020 Honeywell Intelligrated Automation Investment Study, which reveals that the e-commerce (66%); grocery, food and beverage (59%); and logistics (55%) industries are most willing to invest more in automation.

"Recent consumer studies have shown increased online purchases by 28% globally and buy online/pickup in store is expected to increase by more than 60% in 2020," said Chris Feuell, chief marketing officer at Honeywell Intelligrated. "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."

Honeywell says that 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%), order picking technology (46%) and robotic solutions (44%) are expected to receive further investment soon. 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 not affiliated with Honeywell or its business groups. The 434 U.S.-based professionals polled work full-time in senior roles for companies that directly manage warehouses, DCs or fulfillment centers; have insight into the operations of those facilities, are familiar with automation; and make or influence purchase decisions for their company.

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