Back in the old days, things were pretty simple: one, two; one, two, hoist! However, we are not living in the 1900s anymore, as material handling techniques are now changing by the year. The trends for 2019 involve various handling procedures that address managerial issues, new technologies, and improved worker safety. If you do not wish to lag behind your competitors in the warehouse and transport industry, then you need to update your business operations.
The online speedup
Purchasing an item online requires less than one minute and customers expect the shipping process to keep up with this fast-paced way of shopping. That is why there is increasing stress on the shipping industry to deliver products in the fastest time possible. On average, this implies delivery the very next day and in some cases, same-day delivery, which puts everyone involved, from the web administrator to the courier ringing at your front door, under a huge amount of pressure.
The thing about the stress caused by the speed of delivery is that it is only felt by the worker, not by machines and delivery procedures. That is why you need to improve retrieval systems that will react instantaneously and locate the desired item. Then it is up to the conveyor to bring the item to the truck or airplane and off they go. Even the deliveryman, the final link in the chain, who is the weakest part of the shipping process, can be supplanted with a drone, for instance. Remember, automatization means speed, so take advantage of this fact!
In the labor market of equal opportunities, more and more female employees are applying for jobs in the industry once dominated by men. This is a great chance for warehouses and shipping companies to improve their operations as women bring with them fresh energy that no male employee or a robot could ever possess. Studies have shown that women are somewhat better at multitasking than men, so the desk part of your business could see a surge in productivity if you start employing women. This doesn’t mean that they cannot be equally successful working on the factory floor, it just means that they could contribute more from the office. This trend is nothing new, and it is a continuation of the increasing number of women in high corporate places, industrial research, and general management. If you want to stay competitive 2019, hiring women is really a must.
The gender structure of your firm is not the biggest issue hurting your profits, as workers’ average age is another issue that you will have to address this year. The workforce is aging rapidly and you will lose many good workers to retirement. It would be unfair to make them work after they reach the age for a pension but you are left with a huge gap in the labor force. Hiring younger people is an obvious choice but this needs to be done systematically, otherwise, the whole HR sector will fail completely. Try to create a “buddy program” for trainees who would pair up with a seasoned worker to teach them the ropes. This way, the skills older workers have learned over the course of several decades will be transferred down to the new generation of workers who are about to start a professional career in material handling.
A huge amount of knowledge that experienced workers will teach their younger colleagues regards work safety. However, this should be an area that requires constant learning of new procedures as you simply must constantly invest in materials handling equipment with a proven safety track record in order to decrease the number of injuries to a minimum. When implementing safety procedures, be aware that there is no bulletproof method to do away with work-related accidents completely. Because workers have to navigate all the robots, conveyors, heavy machinery, forklifts, and God knows what else on the factory floor, one second is enough for them to injure themselves or others.
What you can do is to have procedures in case of such mishaps, such as a first aid kit nearby or an emergency response unit in standby. One bruised shoulder in a single week is considered a great success of your workplace safety measures. Also, once a worker gets injured and needs to go to a hospital, check up on them and offer to cover their medical bills. Expressing care for the welfare of your workforce will mean that for the next job and there will be an army of young motivated men willing to join your team.
Robots supporting humans
Since the times of Charles Dickens, workers have been concerned that robots will snap away from their job posts. This fear is only partially true; as modern industrial robots should work alongside people, not replace them altogether. Your warehouse needs to be a one of harmony, where machines take the brunt of work, like loading, cutting, and handling toxic substance, while workers are there to oversee and check their work. You will never be able to run your business without labor, so never stop investing in the workforce by making their daily tasks easier with the help of robots. Plus, all those robots buzzing around the warehouse means you will need to open new positions for robotic engineers, technicians, mechanics, operators, and software developers.
To sum up, the year 2019 will be all about automatization that will need support from an ever diversified workforce. Once you start employing younger people and women, all the while raising the level of work safety, your business will bloom, as the demand for efficient delivery has never been higher.