Supply chain businesses worldwide are struggling to mitigate industry-wide labor shortages caused by the mass exodus of Baby Boomer retirees – an estimated 60 million in the next few years. With only 40 million new employees, many of which unqualified, entering the workforce warehouse operators had to search for alternatives to locating and developing qualified employees. Motivated by regional labor shortages, supply chain service providers began increasing investment in both material handling and automated data collection technologies, tools that can be used to reduce labor needs and optimize existing labor. It is estimated that demand for these types of technology will increase by 4% by 2016, furthering the increasing adoption rate of supply chain automation technologies.

To increase the efficiency of warehouses and distribution center picking and putaway material handling equipment including automated storage and retrieval systems, work-cell assembly, sortation systems, carousels, pick and put to light systems and conveyors are being added in varying combinations. These systems make existing labor more efficient as they are designed to reduce inventory “touches”, or the amount of human handling required, to process inventory for both inbound and outbound processes. These types of material handling systems are also helping reduce labor needs by eliminating low-level positions where low-thought, repetitive functions are typical. These types of positions account for large portions of labor in most supply chain facilities and thus are candidates for significant cost reductions. When these positions are eliminated, warehouse operators can then invest more of their labor dollars in mid and high level positions where more technical skill is required. While reducing labor needs, material handling also helps to improve ergonomics, reducing injuries, and improves data accuracy and availability.

Of automated data collection devices voice picking, mobile computers, vehicle mounted devices, barcode scanners, RF and RFID, wireless networks and mobile printers are the most often used network devices to improve data collection and workforce mobilization in the supply chain and logistics industries. These devices provide these operations with a single point to access and archive inventory data. ADC manufacturers have taken steps towards improving device ergonomic design, making them easier to use for warehouse staff, making your workforce more productive. Reducing manual data entry also makes staff more productive, making the most of existing labor.

Learn more about ADC and material handling for labor shortages by contacting Datex experts today at marketing@datexcorp.com 800.933.2839 or www.datexcorp.com.

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