May 17, 2020

Why now is the moment for warehouse modernisation

Paul Reed
4 min
Warehouse workers
Paul Reed, Enterprise Mobile Computing Regional Product Manager, EMEA, Zebra Technologies, discusses, why now is the time to modernise warehousing.


Paul Reed, Enterprise Mobile Computing Regional Product Manager, EMEA, Zebra Technologies, discusses, why now is the time to modernise warehousing.

With the end of extended support by Microsoft™ Windows® Embedded Handheld in January 2020 and support for Windows Embedded Compact 7 ending a year later, now is the time to plan your device modernisation strategy. These end-of-support dates expose Windows mobile devices now in use in warehouses to potential security issues and limit future software and wireless concern resolution. Add to this the inevitable decline in aging hardware performance and missed performance gains that come with new warehouse devices. While this is prompting warehouse leaders to reassess their mobile device strategies, now is a good time to introduce more automation into the warehouse.

A key finding from Zebra’s Warehouse Vision Study is the extent that consumers push for reduced delivery times is impacting warehouse operations – 46% of respondents cite this as the main driver behind their growth plans. The research highlights greater demands on warehouses: 86% of respondents expect to expand shipping volumes; and 81% are investing in returns handling. These trends mean that more space is needed – 87% of respondents are looking to extend sites and 82% to build more. To keep pace, warehouses will need to ‘staff-up’. Industry projections indicate that worker numbers will need to grow by 17% to 44.6mn. Indeed, recruitment and retention are hot topics as 60% of those surveyed are concerned about these.

There is a strong reason to invest in warehouse modernisation projects as 80% of survey respondents plan to invest in technology to stay competitive. Interestingly, 70% believe that human involvement will remain in workflows. This explains the high number (77%) who say that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation into the warehouse. Just under three quarters (70%) are planning to do this by giving staff new mobile devices.

While the end of extended support for Windows® Embedded Handheld and Embedded Compact 7 plays a role here, there is a wider recognition that new technology can boost productivity: 43% of decision makers believe that a modern operating system, such as Android™, will improve staff efficiencies and 39% think that it will help them adjust more quickly to complex tasks.


While warehouse leaders understand the potential of new technology, 77% of respondents admit that they are slow to implement it. So, if you’re thinking about rolling out new devices, here are some ideas about how to ease the warehouse modernisation process, and some of the benefits you can expect to see. 

Facilitating New Mobile Device Roll Out 

When discussing Android migration, customers often express concerns about rewriting apps. Typically, their legacy Terminal Emulation (TE) apps have been refined over many years and are still appropriate for warehouse workflows. With this in mind, enterprises should have access to:

  • TE support: warehouse mobile computers include an integrated application to run existing TE apps which gives complete flexibility to migrate apps to devices’ native operating system when the time is right. For example, the Velocity application from Ivanti is pre-loaded on the majority of Zebra® mobile computers and pre-licensed on some (including MC9300, MC3300 Gun and VC80x/ VC8300). This gives a simple way to move to green screen TE on Android, while also offering future application modernisation.


  • Longer device support lifecycle: Zebra OneCare® Support Services with LifeGuard™ for Android™ ensure customers get predictable and dependable 3-5 year security updates needed to maximise expected enterprise uptime on Zebra Android devices. 

New mobile devices deliver a range of benefits such as being more comfortable, lighter and easier to use which reinforces 88% of survey respondents’ feedback which stated worker comfort and ergonomics as top priorities. Key features such as integrated, best-in-class barcode scanning have become more advanced to accelerate and streamline workflows by enabling fast, first-time, accurate, data entry and capture, over longer distances including illegible barcodes. Warehouse worker morale improves when they have devices that are instinctive, easy and comfortable to use which consequently reduces the training time required. This is especially important where high numbers of temporary or seasonal workers are employed. Looking ahead, the increased capability of mobile devices means that they can easily adapt to future business strategies such as supporting the introduction of augmented reality guided picking apps. 

For more information, please read Zebra’s 2024 Warehouse Vision Study

For more information on all topics for Procurement, Supply Chain & Logistics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Share article

Jun 9, 2021

Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force

3 min
US government lays out plans for supply chain transformation following results of the supply chain review ordered by President Biden in February

The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration. 

The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing. 

“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said. 

In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”. 

In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips. 

Support domestic production of critical medicines


  • A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration. 
  • The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”. 
  • The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.

Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries


  • The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”. 
  • The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”. 

Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals


  • An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”. 
  • The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.

Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages


  • The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing. 
  • Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”. 

Share article