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Warehouse Automation Growing in U.S.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Adoption of warehouse automation in the U.S. is growing because of demographic and workforce issues, as well as the need for competitive differentiation, said two professors at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

“The availability of warehouse labor is decreasing,” said Ananth Krishnamurthy, associate professor, manufacturing systems engineering program and Center for Quick Response Manufacturing, during a session Tuesday at the Supply Chain Conference held here by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. He was joined by his colleague Raj Veeramani.

“We’re not seeing people wanting to work in warehouses,” Krishnamurthy noted. “The question is, 15 years from now, where am I going to get the people to operate my warehouses?”

In addition, more retailers are beginning to consider that warehouse automation might be a competitive enabler, Krishnamurthy said. “In the last 15 years, we’ve squeezed a lot out of DC operations. Where are we going to get cost savings 15 years from now? What’s going to set us apart when we want to make the next jump?”

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