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The Impact of Human Effort and Automation on Warehousing
While the role of warehouse workers remains irreplaceable, the support of advanced automation and technology is indispensable.
By Keith Moore – Posted January 3, 2024
In the complex world of logistics, warehouse consistency emerges as a pivotal factor, directly influencing crucial network metrics such as fill rate and on-time rate. All facilities consistently maintaining high-performance levels in these metrics drive success throughout the logistics network. Achieving high warehouse operations efficiency becomes paramount to meet the broader objectives of the complete supply chain. This article delves into the challenges faced in this quest, highlighting the crucial role of warehouse workers, the potential and challenges of automation, and the limitations of current Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).
The Burden on Warehouse Workers
In the age of next-day delivery pioneered by giants like Amazon, the expectations placed on warehouse staff have escalated dramatically. The demand for rapid fulfillment has become the norm, pushing all distribution sites relentlessly to expedite their order-to-delivery times. This relentless push for speed has fundamentally altered the landscape of warehouse operations.
Warehouse workers are now at the forefront of meeting these accelerated timelines. Their role in enhancing throughput – the efficiency with which orders are processed and dispatched – is more critical than ever. Achieving the required pace is not just about working faster; it involves a complex interplay of efficiency, accuracy and constant adaptation to changing operational demands.
In response to these heightened demands, a common approach might be to increase staffing levels. However, this solution is becoming increasingly unviable. Rising labor costs and a scarcity of available labor have made it difficult for many sites to simply "add more people." This scarcity is not just a logistical hurdle; it represents a fundamental shift in the way warehouses must operate.