Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Jan-Feb 2017 Contents ANDREW KIRKWOOD
IN A SEAMLESS SUPPLY
CHAIN: SOLVING THE
LABOUR CHALLENGES OF
Good news for millennials. Supply chain
jobs are expected to grow by 25 per cent
over the next decade, according to the
recent 2016 Third-party Logistics Study from
Penn State researcher John Langley, Jr.
That presents great career opportunities
in a dynamic industry, but the management
challenges are even bigger. One of the most
worrisome is the intensifying shortage of
transport and warehouse workers. The global
supply chain is already experiencing significant
labour shortages, and that trend will accelerate
as older workers retire.
The study noted that shortage among
warehouse workers is expected to be among
the worst. Penn State found that more than
half of shippers believe that they can rely on
their third-party logistics providers to address
the impact of labour shortages, and 79 per
cent of 3PL themselves feel their clients are
unprepared for the labour shortage's impact on
their supply chain.
A new way of managing the
warehouse for a new generation
As is often said, people are at the heart
of warehouse operations. The challenges
presented by labour shortages, and
consequently higher labour costs, call for
innovation in the way we manage them.
Fortunately, the demographic shifts causing
the labour shortage also provide its solution
as the millennial generation assumes greater
responsibilities in both the warehouse workforce
Millennials grew up with the digital
technologies that are driving innovation in
warehouse management. They can master
new applications more quickly and they have
higher expectations in being allowed to use
them to perform their jobs. This applies to both
management and individuals, so new solutions
can be deployed without any generational
disconnection between them.
Further, although millennials will not totally
displace other generations, their cultural
impact on the workforce will change behaviour
and technology adoption across the board.
While technical innovation has been on an
upward trend in warehouse management for
several years, keeping pace with the increase
in supply chain complexity, the rise of the
millennials presents a true inflection point and
great opportunity for innovative warehouse
Innovation provides agility
The overarching benefit of innovative warehouse
management systems (WMS) is the way they
provide greater agility for the workforce. The
Penn State study defines agility as "a mindset
and a behaviour, in which businesses and
employees embrace unfamiliar situations".
They conclude, and we concur, that providing
greater agility is the key enabler for companies
to address the labour shortage and drive growth
in new situations. Four key innovations support
that new agility:
2. Configurable workflows.
3. Control towers.
4. User interface.
It goes without saying that millennials
grew up with smartphones and use them
interchangeably in their personal and
professional lives. Mobility gives workers the
flexibility they need for communicating in real
time without being locked down to a workstation
or company-issued RF device.
Supporting mobility in the warehouse allows
managers to quickly respond to business
demands, both inside and outside the facility.
Further, advanced WMS are integrated with
new mobile apps that allow managers to view
a variety of business metrics in real time,
including labour performance. Innovations in
mobility for the warehouse help support bring-
your-own-device (BYOD) policies preferred by
millennials while providing the security needed
by the organisation.
2. Configurable workflows
Providing a 'smart configurator' helps define the
most efficient workflows for accomplishing tasks.
This delivers faster time to value with quicker
implementation, increased agility, simplified
process changes and better onboarding.
Both worker and manager can have faith in a
system that boosts productivity and achieves
organisational goals rather than wasting time
with frustrated effort.
3. Control towers
Nothing is more important to a millennial than
giving them the feeling they have complete
control over their work, rather than the feeling
that they're being forced to conform to some
predefined workflow. Providing each employee
with their own personal 'control tower'
empowers them to handle the most pressing
issues in real time, while keeping an eye on
their assigned day-to-day tasks. This maximises
user productivity while giving them an even
greater sense of control.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Shippers feel they can rely on their
3PL's preparation for the labour
shortage's impact on their business.
3PL feel their shippers are
unprepared for the labour shortage's
impact on their supply chain.
The industry will likely
depend on 3PL to prepare for
the labour shortage
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