The Future of Work is Already Here
Some supply chain employees may feel wary about job security with advancements in automation and technology. The truth is technology isn’t the enemy; it’s a necessity.
Multimodal productivity is the ability to increase worker productivity by using multiple methods, processes, and technologies and it’s the best way to get and stay ahead of the competition. And contrary to some points of view, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of anyone’s job.
Technologies continue to evolve, but the concern of job replacement has not. I’ll never forget being onsite for a technology install and being escorted by security guards into the warehouses because workers were concerned about losing their jobs.
Enhancement, Not Replacement
Worker concerns are understandable. But it all boils down to the same issue: Technology shouldn’t be about replacement. It’s about enhancement.
Multimodal productivity is not only the future of the work landscape, but it’s already here. And smart businesses will get on board fast.
Multimodal productivity is not an either/or proposition. It’s a yes/and, designed to use the smartest resources—human or technology—for each stage of a workflow. The key is learning to work with technology, not put forth a futile effort to stave it off.
My company recently integrated autonomous mobile robots into our supply chain business unit. People were nervous. I get it. But I couldn’t be more excited to see the true impact.
With this advancement, warehouse workers are still responsible for ensuring the right items get to the right place at the right time. But now they get a robot helper to, literally, do the heavy lifting for them. Using voice direction, they can order around robots to handle repetitive and heavy-lifting tasks, reducing manual material handling by as much as 50%.
The ripple effect is significant: improved worker safety, fewer injuries, and increased productivity. And when your autonomous mobile robots are integrated seamlessly into your workflows, everything becomes streamlined.
This advancement also mitigates physical barriers that may have prevented people from taking a warehouse job in the past. With the tight supply chain labor market, the shift from constant physical demands to more strategic workflows opens the industry to a whole new talent pool.
It also gives existing warehouse workers a chance to hone technical skills for which they may otherwise not have had exposure.
Change can be uncomfortable—especially when you’ve done something the same way for years or decades. I don’t expect that every person who is offered the chance to try these robots will be immediately thrilled. (But they might be when they see productivity increase, and their back hurts less at the end of the day.)
If they can learn to let technology get them partway to the end goal and use their talents to accelerate what technology can do, they’ll be light years ahead of the competition.
Multimodal productivity means looking at the entire workflow and leveraging technology where it makes sense. That will look different for every industry, and even every warehouse. The customization capabilities of current automation technologies make that easier than ever—and it will keep getting better.
The world would be in shambles without hardworking warehouse associates. The point of multimodal productivity is not for technology to do the job better than people; it’s for technology to help people do their jobs better than ever before.