2012 Warehouse/DC Operations Survey: Mixed signals

A record response reveals that readership is divided in terms of investment: One side remains cautious, while the other is on the verge of making significant changes to their warehouse/DC operations.
By Maida Napolitano, Contributing Editor
November 01, 2012 - MMH Editorial

After years of slow economic progress, the results of the Supply Chain Group’s 2012 Warehouse and Distribution Center (DC) Operations Survey show two schools of thought emerging from the ashes: There are those companies that remain cautious, staying conventional with minimal plans for expansion; and there are those on the verge of making significant investments and changes to their distribution operations.

Designed to gauge activities and trends in warehousing and DCs, our annual survey offers a first-hand look into the state of today’s DC and warehouse operations. In September, a survey questionnaire was sent via email invitation to Supply Chain Group subscribers. The survey gleaned 805 qualified responses (a new record for this survey) from upper-level managers to CEOs—all personally involved in decisions regarding their company’s warehouse and DC operations. 

Most participating companies came from manufacturing (44%), followed by distributors (28%), third-party providers (9%) and retailers (8%). An assortment of products handled in the DC was once again well-represented with food and grocery leading the pack at 11%, followed by industrial/chemical at 10%, and electronics and building materials, tied for third, at 8% each. 

This year’s findings revealed mixed signals coming from opposite ends of the spectrum. About 52% of respondents are adopting a more cautious approach, spending less than $250,000 for warehousing equipment and technology in 2012.


About the Author

Maida Napolitano
Contributing Editor

Maida Napolitano has worked as a Senior Engineer for various consulting companies specializing in supply chain, logistics, and physical distribution since 1990. She’s is the principal author for the following publications: Using Modeling to Solve Warehousing Problems (WERC); Making the Move to Cross Docking (WERC); The Time, Space & Cost Guide to Better Warehouse Design (Distribution Group); and Pick This! A Compendium of Piece-Pick Process Alternatives (WERC). She has worked for clients in the food, health care, retail, chemical, manufacturing and cosmetics industries, primarily in the field of facility layout and planning, simulation, ergonomics, and statistic analysis. She holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Philippines and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, respectively. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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