Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Viewpoint: Improving the human/technology connection

By Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
February 01, 2014

We use our February issue each year to peer inside the nation’s four walls to get a better view of how materials handling equipment and automated distribution systems are evolving to become even more closely tied to overall logistics and transportation operations.

In fact, we kick off this month with the findings of our annual Warehouse & DC Equipment Study, a survey conducted by Peerless Research Group (PRG) designed to reveal the current and future spending plans logistics professionals have for warehouse and DC equipment, automation, and software—purchases traditionally aimed to tighten the knot between distribution and transportation and improve overall supply chain operations and enhance shipment visibility.

In today’s retail environment, one can easily argue that the two functions are now unconditionally tied, and that the seamless integration of product delivery—fulfilled through multiple channels—and DC management is literally the foundation of any successful e-commerce business. In the meantime, manufacturing operations are gearing up to deal with similar multi-channel challenges brought on by the changing nature of sourcing and procurement.

And while the integration of transportation and DC operations improves each year with the growth of omni-channel distribution and e-commerce, our latest Warehouse & DC Equipment Study tells us that today, there is more emphasis on the relationship between the technology and the workforce tied to the equipment.

This year’s findings make it clear that it’s in the improvement of this “marriage” that respondents believe they’ll see the next big bump in productivity.

“We see activity levels in warehouse and DCs increasing considerably,” says Editor at Large Josh Bond, who put this year’s findings into perspective for us (page 26). “This growth is due to readers continuing to do more with less, truly optimizing their existing facilities instead of building new—and they say they’re doing this with data-driven improvements like improving tracking and picking, inventory management, and better overall labor management through the technology investments put in the hands of the worker.”

In fact, hidden in this data surrounding planned equipment and technology investments is the imperative to increase the productivity of the human worker that uses the technology. According to Bond, this bodes well for the next spurt in U.S. productivity growth.

We can only hope that the discussion revolving around the improved human/technology connection won’t be lost on the floor of the upcoming Modex 2014 trade show in Atlanta (page 76S). If you’re one of the 50,000 warehouse, DC, and logistics professionals walking the aisles to visit the more than 750 equipment and technology vendors, keep asking yourself how these investments will integrate with your most important asset: your workforce.

“The DC worker is now, more than ever, being considered an integral part of the equation, not just a body that services some piece of speedy technology,” adds Bond. “The impact on labor management is a factor in nearly every buying decision highlighted in this year’s survey, and we’ll only see that growing as the race to do more with less remains a constant.”

About the Author

image
Michael Levans
Group Editorial Director

Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Matching last week, the average price per gallon of diesel gasoline dropped 2.3 cents, bringing the average price per gallon to $3.755 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

A number of key topics impacting the freight transportation and logistics marketplace were front and center at a panel at the Council of Supply Chain Management Annual Conference in San Antonio last week.

The relationships between third-party logistics (3PL) service providers and shippers are seeing ongoing developments due in large part to the continuing emergence and sophistication of omni-channel retailing. That was one of the key findings of The 19th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, which was released by consultancy Capgemini Group, Penn State University, and Korn/Ferry International, a global talent advisory firm.

Optimism in the form of increasing profits was a key takeaway in the Annual Survey of Third-Party Logistics (3PL) CEOs, released earlier this week at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Conference in San Antonio.

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in August saw a 1.6 percent increase in August on the heels of a 1.5 percent increase in July. The August SA index––at 132.6 (2000=100)––stands as a new SA high, with November 2013’s 131.0 now the second best month recorded.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA