Artificial Intelligence is a warehouse game changer, but organisations are struggling to use it optimally, according to market study insights released today from Lucas Systems.
The study, which examined AI’s use, perception and value, was implemented by market research firm, Vanson Bourne, and commissioned by Lucas Systems, a pioneer in AI-based systems with 23 years of experience implementing AI-powered software into more than 400 warehouses worldwide. Survey respondents, which included executives, directors, and warehouse managers from 350 US and UK organisations, stated using AI mostly for inventory management and also expressed challenges with using AI more broadly.
According to the study, executives are optimistic about AI — counting on quick and generous returns from their investment and expecting an average ROI of more than 60 per cent within 5 years. Despite this optimism, 99 per cent of organisations say they face challenges to use AI more effectively. Top reasons were: perceptions of high costs compared to benefits; concerns about risks and control of operations decisions; cost and time for training and a lack of understanding for implementation. Nearly 90 per cent of respondents, regardless of industry, admitted to needing more expertise and information when it comes to implementation and use.
“These findings are consistent with what we’re hearing from our customers,” says Lucas Systems Chief Marketing Officer Ken Ramoutar. “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.”
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Lucas says the key to driving transformational impact in the warehouse is in providing AI where users or IT staff don’t have to be experts on AI. Lucas points to customer interest in its warehouse AI-embedded technologies such as voice, dynamic slotting and in-warehouse travel optimisation solutions.
“These technologies have strong adoption today because operators realize their high value; they trust the software; and they appreciate how easy they are to use,” says Ramoutar.
Lucas executives say implementing AI-based systems can have a profound effect on management effectiveness; safety and ergonomics; picking accuracy; labour costs; employee satisfaction; and throughput. They are recommending a series of Five Fast-Start AI Opportunities.
“DCs are target-rich environments for using AI to optimize performance. 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. This is what we expect in our personal lives from smartphones, digital assistants and apps,” says Ramoutar.