May 2018 | Commentary | Good Question

GOOD QUESTION | What’s the first thing you would do to solve the warehouse labor shortage?

Tags: Warehousing, Logistics, Supply Chain


Make the job dynamic to attract and retain workers. Often, a warehouse role is one-dimensional. Operators can create job enrichment by cross-training workers and rotating them through all the functions required to run the warehouse. Also, connecting their specific job and function to the success of the company, and to the benefit of the customer, helps create a sense of purpose.

Michael Notarangeli
Executive Vice President, Logistics
Maine Pointe


Combine automation with incentives to employees who would be willing to learn the skills to increase productivity in our field.

Jessie L. Price
Owner/Operator
Five Star Express


First, schedule the work around the labor instead of the labor around the work. Second, pay people a wage they can afford to live on. Third, implement the 5S method and Six Sigma to make the work more efficient. Fourth, wait 1-2 months and reevaluate how much more or less labor you actually need after the employees get used to being more productive.

Christopher Lovin
Logistics & Supply Chain Professional



Our industry needs to embrace flexibility of scheduling and the use of non-traditional labor sources. Mothers, students, and retirees who can work two- or four-hour flexible shifts are an untapped market that can help bridge the labor gap.

Amy Wren
Vice President, Human Resources
Kane Is Able, Inc.


Managing a warehouse demands both a unique skillset and mindset. Continue training, which creates trust.

Jasvir Saran
Warehouse Supervisor
Silver Hills


Consider materials handling solutions, which can run 24/7, minimizing labor requirements. Evaluate which processes can be automated or left manual—from a cost and operational perspective. A system should fit as an "island of automation" within manual operations.

Rick Trigatti
North America President
Cimcorp


Engage employees. Building a culture that is based on dignity, respect, empowerment, and appreciation can solve a number of challenges. Treating people the right way goes a long way, as does providing the tools, environment, and training for employees to be successful.

William Vechiarella
President, Prime Distribution Services
An Ascent Global Logistics Company


First, determine why there is a shortage. Do a workflow study to find out if workers are being utilized efficiently (i.e. too many workers in one station, bottlenecks in the process flow). Then, set a justifiable and realistic goal based on time studies. Study the arrangement of the workstations and improve the layout of the warehouse together with automating some processes. If workers are underutilized, you can do line balancing along with other techniques to maximize their work. Then, decide if you will hire additional labor.

Nikko Vince Gonzales
Industrial Engineer
CSSYB


Re-evaluate if labor requirements can be reduced by improving the process itself, investing in the right tools, improving ERP systems, and redefining tasks to distribute among existing manpower.

Ashraf Manjothi
Logistics Specialist
Fetchr


The key to recruiting success is creating a culture that people are excited to join and build. The job and compensation levels are similar, place to place. Culture is what differentiates.

Bob Lilja
Chief Operating Officer
Weber Logistics


Target the age 35 and above group who are looking for long-term positions. With reasonable benefits, this age group would be more willing to work split shifts or on a three-shift system.

Michael Eustace
Former Quality, Environmental Safety Superintendent
DynCorp International


Dig deeper. One cold storage company I worked for used to claim it had a labor shortage. Now it has fewer people and they get the job done. Why? Because each work process is documented and religiously followed. A system was also put in place to ensure proper documentation was done, correctly and timely. If there is already a system in place and there's still a manpower shortage, conduct a study to reassess what positions need to be filled and if the tasks can be distributed to other employees.

Anj Rillorta
HR Manager
South Pole Logistics


We encourage staff to learn multiple skills and support those who have taken it positively. More than 50 percent of our team can multitask in the warehouse. An employee drives the truck, operates materials handling equipment, runs the ERP system, does the transactions, takes ownership of orders processing, and makes sure outbound delivery is released with proper checks. Such employees are assets, and we value them.

Sudhakar Poojary, MCIPS, MBA
Manager, Supply Management
Etihad Airways


Focus on the root cause and implement long-term solutions. Reassess methods, processes, workflow, and competencies. Review the shift system, analyzing peak and off-peak hours; automate processes and implement daily routines; optimize SAP to decrease manual operations; document your processes; increase the know-how of your workforce with training sessions; forecast and plan.

Michella Rakotolahy
Cargo Manager


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If you could speed the development of a technology that will disrupt supply chains, what would it be and why?

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