In this week’s episode of The New Warehouse Podcast, Justin Griffith, CTO at StayLinked, and David Krebs, EVP of Enterprise Mobility and AIDC at VDC Research Group, reveal groundbreaking insights from their latest research, “Making Supply Chain Resilience Work: Keeping Up with Ever-Demanding Warehouse Operations.” Discover the complexities and future trends of supply chain operations, warehouse resilience, and technology adoption; an essential listen for those navigating the dynamic warehousing and supply chain management landscape.
Redefining Warehouse Resilience with a Shift Towards Agile Infrastructure and Technological Adaptability
As David highlights, the notion of supply chain resilience has gained prominence, particularly in the wake of logistical challenges. Companies realize that while they couldn’t have entirely prevented these issues, better preparedness through modernized infrastructure could have mitigated their impact. This realization spurred an accelerated investment in updating underlying infrastructures. There’s a clear correlation between the modernity of a company’s infrastructure and its ability to adopt new technologies effectively.
Comparing firms with quasi-modern systems to those lagging in technology versions shows a stark difference in their capacity to integrate new technologies and realize their value faster. The logistics sector, which traditionally held the mindset that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, is now confronting the reality of outdated legacy Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), highlighting the need for modernization.
Justin echoes these sentiments, underscoring the importance of investment in technologies not just for the sake of advancement but for building warehouse resilience and responsive supply chain. Moreover, the focus has shifted from selecting the perfect technology to creating a system that allows flexibility and choice. It’s about preparing for any necessary technology, whether Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs) or others, as and when needed. The key lies not in committing to one specific technology but in establishing a foundation that supports a mix of different technologies, ensuring adaptability and resilience in ever-changing market conditions.
Warehouse Workforce Dynamics: The Synergy of Human Labor and Advanced Technology
Labor optimization in warehousing is no longer a one-dimensional pursuit of speed. It has evolved into a multifaceted approach that values the human workforce, emphasizes ergonomic and intuitive technological solutions, and seeks to harmonize both benefits for a more efficient, effective, and resilient supply chain operation.
Justin details how the pandemic highlighted the criticality of the human workforce in warehouse operations. Despite advancements in technology like beacons, sensors, Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs), and drones, the absence of human labor could halt operations entirely. This period prompted a reevaluation of existing workflows and a shift from considering full automation to integrating technology that complements the human workforce.
David believes frontline workers have been somewhat underserved in technological advancements, often dealing with outdated mobile solutions. He advocates for technology that is as unobtrusive as possible, emphasizing the need for ergonomics, safety, and simplicity in design. These considerations are vital in a labor-intensive environment where worker well-being is paramount.
Griffith notes that the focus has shifted from replacing labor with technology to integrating both in a synergistic manner. This integration allows for more inclusive labor practices, such as remote piloting and collaborative robotics, expanding the potential workforce and enhancing operational efficiency. The narrative has evolved from technology as a replacement to technology as a facilitator, working in concert with human labor to achieve better results.
- Labor Optimization and Worker Experience: There is a growing emphasis on improving labor optimization and the worker experience. This includes adopting technologies that streamline workflows and reduce warehouse workers’ physical and cognitive load.
- Adoption of Locationing Systems: There is a growing adoption of locationing systems in warehouse operations to enhance operational visibility.
- Importance of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): The study emphasizes the correlation between the age and investment in WMS and a company’s ability to adopt new technologies successfully. Up-to-date systems facilitate better integration and utilization of new technologies.
Listen to the episode and leave your thoughts in the comments.
For more information on StayLinked, click here.
For more information on VDC Research, click here.
To connect with Justin on LinkedIn, click here.
To connect with David on LinkedIn, click here.
For more insight on Improving Warehouse Resilience, check out the podcasts below.
455: NetLogistik Connects the Dots for More Efficient Supply Chain Operations
454: Innovating Asset Management in Warehousing with Traka
450: The Power of Intelligent Slotting with Fulfilld