Finding and retaining skilled workers remains a consistent challenge for supply chain operations. The 2020 pandemic exacerbates this challenge as operations adapt to even smaller workforces, staggered shifts and remote administrative staff.
Traditionally, companies have viewed labor shortages as a labor challenge, or “labor crisis,” that must be overcome in order to handle demand, increase efficiency and grow. It’s time to reframe this challenge as a labor opportunity. Instead of being discouraged by unfilled positions, excess overtime and insufficient staffing, companies need to find ways to augment and empower these smaller workforces with technological innovation.
Digital process automation technology like mobile barcoding can do exactly that.
89% of manufacturers report difficulty finding skilled workers. There is a similar worker shortage in warehousing operations. Traditionally, supply chain operations view this labor shortage as a numbers challenge.
This current state of perpetual labor shortage isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And with the effects of COVID-19, manufacturers are struggling even more to keep up due to further reduced numbers.
In an attempt to solve the problem, companies assign more overtime, rely on temporary staff and encourage potential retirees to continue working for longer. However, by increasing worker overtime, workers make more mistakes and are more prone to accidents, which also leads to higher costs and lower morale.
Temporary staff require extensive training and oversight and can take several weeks to reach full productivity levels. While more experienced, veteran staff tend to have higher salaries.
All of these proposed solutions only work in the short time. They are not long-term solutions.
Instead of viewing it as a problem solved by more labor, you should reframe these shortages as an opportunity to modernize your operation with workforce-enhancing automation technology. That way, you can address these challenges in a sustainable, cost effective way and have the foundation to grow production in the future.
Some companies are already seeing the benefits of this reframed approach. And 61% of manufacturers plan to rely on a combination of humans and technology by 2024 to help combat labor challenges.
Mobilizing your workforce through a combination of barcoding, hardware and mobile apps empowers your workforce to accomplish as much, or more, without adding any additional employees. It also has extensive humanizing benefits for your workers too.
By replacing cumbersome, inefficient manual processes with automated data collection, you:
These gains allow you to reduce historic reliance on overtime hours and temporary staff, reducing overhead costs.
By modernizing outdated manual inventory processes, your employees will:
Mobilizing your workforce helps to mitigate injury risk by reducing repetitive, labor-intensive motions. It also reduces virus spread, as workers no longer have to rely on hand-to-hand paper transfers or typing into a shared computer workstation. Long-range barcoding scanning helps support social distancing measures too.
Jim Necci, warehouse manager for CarlisleIT, and his team were processing all warehouse transactions manually, causing costly delays and inaccuracies. After automating data collection with mobile barcoding technology, Necci saw measurable gains in productivity and accuracy, like consolidating four to five manual transactions to just two scans. This has helped him reduce staff costs by reassigning one full-time employee to more meaningful work and eliminating two temporary positions.
NLMK, a leading global steel manufacturer, mobilized their workforce with mobile barcoding technology to boost their team’s productivity and efficiency. For example, it reduced its labor time by 60% for cycle counting inventory, freeing its staff for more meaningful projects.
Labor shortages in the supply chain are not disappearing any time soon, especially with the additional conditions introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of approaching this pervasive issue as a challenge solvable by patching with more workers, companies must strategically reframe the paradigm as an opportunity to modernize with worker-augmenting automation like mobile barcoding.
Continued adherence to the status quo is no longer a path forward. By exploring ways to empower and enhance the workforce you have now, you can be confident in your company’s ability to grow and expand, regardless of unanticipated outside pressures.
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