Finding and Keeping Employees a Key Factor in Modernization and Automation Push
Leaders of enterprises in warehousing
— and to a degree in transportation and logistics
as well — face a host of challenges that are leading to a need to modernize operations in their facilities. Factors like increased demand spurred on by the e-commerce boom born during the pandemic and new technology developments are driving warehouse optimization efforts.
The biggest current disruptors for warehousing leaders include:
- Migration to new technologies
- Labor shortages and worker turnover
- Supply chain delays
- Increased lead times
- Steadily growing inflation
Each of these factors is increasing the need for and driving warehouse optimization efforts. They’re also forcing organizations to act more quickly than ever before to implement modernization plans and programs.
“These disruptors are forcing a huge acceleration in modernization efforts. Where once a business had a five-year plan to implement these kinds of changes, now they’re wanting to do it in less than a year,” said John Wirthlin, Industry Principal of Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics for Zebra. “At the same time, labor shortages, supply chain and lead time delays are at odds with that.”
Industry experts believe most of the current disruptions stem from the ongoing labor shortage and high turnover rates still affecting virtually every industry. For instance, job openings hit a record high in March 2022
as the issue apparently won’t be resolved soon. Finding employees, training them up and then retaining them is a challenge.
“The biggest challenge is the labor shortage. Getting employees in and then keeping them is really affecting the other four (disruptions),” said Daniel Mnookin, Enterprise Account Executive with TRG.
Get the Complete Picture
: View this webinar for the full scope of challenges facing warehousing today and examples of modernization efforts done right.
Examining What the ‘Modern’ Warehouse Looks Like
Enterprises are looking to adopt or migrate to new technologies to fill the labor gap and entice current employees to stay. Companies need shorter onboarding training for warehouse workers, intuitive mobile devices and automated solutions to take low-value work off the plate of employees.
Keeping workers and easing the entry for new ones is a primary reason driving warehouse optimization efforts. Augmenting employees with technology that makes their jobs easier, or allows them to focus more on higher value tasks is the focus for enterprises seeking to modernize their warehouses and distribution centers.
In a field without vast differences in compensation and high competition for the potential employees, finding ways to improve workers’ day-to-day experiences through technology and automation can be a differentiator for companies. Modernizing your warehouse operations adds tools for increased efficiency
. But it also optimizes current workers’ contributions and provides an experience that encourages them to stick, while additionally easing and shortening the adjustment period for new hires.
“There’s a turnstile at HR right now. Companies want to know how to get new workers productive in a shift or two vs. 30-60 days,” Wirthlin said.
Working with a trusted MDM services provider and proven, capable manufacturers give enterprises a roadmap of how to reach those goals. The right partners will proactively offer potential solutions, programs, and equipment to modernize their warehouses — giving those organizations the runway needed to set a plan of attack. The avenues driving warehouse optimization efforts lie in an assortment of devices and systems, including:
- Wearable technology (i.e. smart watches)
- Mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.)
- RFID (radio frequency identification tags)
- Robotics (including collaborative robots)
- Automated solutions
All of these elements of the ‘modern’ warehouse tie into new data streams so enterprises can get to new desired business outcomes based on where assets are in the facility, where the workers are, and what the priority is of the jobs they’re all trying to do.
“Marrying data and making sure workers are doing the right things at the right time are what the modern warehouse looks like,” Wirthlin said.
Learn More With TRG: Managing risks across warehousing and distribution is becoming more complicated in an increasingly digitized landscape. Securing the digital supply chain is more important than ever before.
Robotics Looms Large in Modernization Efforts
Both Mnookin and Wirthlin believe using robotics and automation solutions is poised to explode across warehousing in the near future. Using robots is already seen in some larger organizations and using such assistance is the logical next step as enterprises look to maximize the contributions of a workforce that is no longer expansive enough to cover every task manually.
From taking out the trash and handling dunnage to bringing inventory to the human workers picking and fulfilling orders, there have been several use cases that have begun to show the promise of cobots in a warehouse environment.
Zebra, for example, acquired Fetch Robotics in 2021
and continues to focus on workflow solutions for human workers including current offerings like FulfillmentEdge
. Zebra has developed a middleware solution for Fetch robots that integrates into your warehouse management system (WMS) and can up and running in a matter of days — not weeks or months.
Such systems are easier to run and operate than ever before as interfaces have migrated to a GUI (graphical user interface) format versus the text-based (or green screen) interfaces that dominated the industry for decades.
“I think we’re going to see exponential growth there in the next few months or a year,” Mnookin said. “It’s something companies can pick up right now. It can integrate with all the solutions already in the warehouse. Once they see a use case, it kind of clicks for them.”
More on Modernization: In this webinar, hear from industry experts to learn what it takes to move towards a digital-first distribution center and implement modern solutions with ease.
Expedite and Drive Your Warehouse Optimization Efforts with TRG
At TRG, we’re committed to “Making Technology Simple” — specifically within enterprise mobility, point of sale and payment processing solutions. With the industry’s most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services, our Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) Support
will help you fully optimize your enterprise mobility program across a broad range of devices and operating systems. Our Onsite Services
are tailored to each customer’s requirements and are backed by our expert technicians. Both work at reducing costs and risks, which frees up internal resources to focus on more strategic initiatives.
When you work with TRG, you gain the services of a provider with a global reach capable of providing solutions for everything dealing with mobile technology. We’re aligned with qualified suppliers like Zebra
— which improves warehouse workflows with devices and services that ensure every worker and asset is visible, connected and optimally utilized — to give you options no matter the goal or application.
TRG features a complete line of warehousing and distribution solutions
to modernize operations. Once a solution is decided upon, our single-source deployment solutions will handle staging, kitting and configuration
to simplify technology rollouts. Once your solution is up and running, TRG will ensure it stays that way with comprehensive managed services for the repair, maintenance and logistical support
that eliminate downtime.
Connect with TRG to learn more about driving warehouse optimization efforts
and how we can help you improve day-to-day efficiency to keep your organization productive.