Artificial intelligence is a warehouse game-changer, but organizations are struggling to use it optimally, according to Lucas Systems Inc., which released insights from a market study today.
“These findings are consistent with what we’re hearing from our customers,” said Ken Ramoutar, chief marketing officer at Lucas Systems. “There’s a belief that AI is a heavy lift—that it’s difficult to use and risky or expensive. This thinking prevents widespread adoption in the warehouse and the ability to tap AI’s true potential.”
The study was conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne and examined AI’s use, perception, and value. Survey respondents included executives, directors, and warehouse managers from 350 U.S. and U.K. organizations. They said they're using AI mostly for inventory management and described challenges with using AI more broadly.
Lucas Systems, which commissioned the study, has 23 years of experience implementing AI-powered software into more than 400 warehouses worldwide. The company, which has offices in Wexford, Penn., and Bracknell, U.K., said it can help distribution centers (DCs) increase worker productivity, operational agility, and customer satisfaction with voice and AI optimization technologies.
Warehouse execs optimistic but need more info
According to the study, executives are optimistic about AI, saying they expect an average return on investment (ROI) of more than 60% within five years.
Despite this optimism, 99% of organizations said they face challenges to using AI more effectively, said Lucas Systems. Top reasons included perceptions of high costs compared to benefits, concerns about risks and control of operational decisions, the cost and time for training, and a lack of understanding for implementation.
Nearly 90% of respondents, regardless of industry, said they more expertise and information when it comes to AI deployment and use. “Managing robots and other machines” was cited as a top reason why respondents are using or planning to use AI-based software in their warehouses or distribution centers.
Source: Lucas Systems
Ease of use is key, says Lucas
The key to transformation in the warehouse is in providing AI that doesn't require users or IT staffers to be experts in AI, said Lucas Systems. The company noted customer interest in its AI-embedded technologies such as voice, dynamic slotting, and in-warehouse travel-optimization systems.
“These technologies have strong adoption today because operators realize their high value,” said Ramoutar. “They trust the software, and they appreciate how easy they are to use.”
AI-based systems can have a profound effect on management effectiveness, safety and ergonomics, and picking accuracy, said Lucas exectives. They can also help with labor costs, employee satisfaction, and throughput, they added. The company recommended its series of “Five Fast-Start AI Opportunities.”
“DCs are target-rich environments for using AI to optimize performance,” Ramoutar said. “When applied in the right places, AI is a distribution center game-changer. AI can drive significant operational and customer experience gains.”
“But software providers must continue to make AI easy to implement and use,” he said. “This is what we expect in our personal lives from smart phones, digital assistants, and apps.”
Warehouses are just beginning to benefit from AI and automation. Source: Lucas Systems
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