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Transportation & Warehouse Operations Most Challenged by Resource Shortages

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Transportation & Warehouse Operations Most Challenged by Resource Shortages

Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released findings from its study How Bad Is the Supply Chain and Logistics Workforce Challenge?, which indicates that 76% of the supply chain and logistics leaders surveyed are experiencing notable workforce shortages in their operations. What’s more, 37% of respondents would characterize the resource shortage they face as high to extreme. While the issue is affecting companies’ financial, peak season and logistics partner performance, the survey also showed it’s taking a toll on customer service performance, with 58% specifying that workforce shortages have negatively impacted service levels.

While the competition for supply chain and logistics resources is widespread, how acute the workforce challenge varies by organizational function. According to survey results, the areas suffering the most from resource shortages were transportation operations (61%) and warehouse operations (56%). While these areas are admittedly highly labor-intensive, findings also revealed that 55% of supply chain and logistics leaders said knowledge workers are the hardest to hire—and they are becoming increasingly important as supply chain and logistics operations become more technology-enabled and data-driven.

“With economies cooling and COVID more manageable, the general thinking has been that companies would see the workforce shortages of the past few years subside; however, this does not appear to be the case,” said Chris Jones, EVP, Industry at Descartes. “The study shows that, post-pandemic, supply chain and logistics organizations continue to struggle getting the labor, knowledge workers and leaders they need to thrive. With business performance driven by both the quantity and quality of the workforce, supply chain and logistics leaders need to rethink not just their hiring and retention strategies but also how technology can help to mitigate current and future workforce challenges.”

Results also showed that the impact of workforce shortages varies by financial performance, growth, management’s perceived importance of supply chain and logistics operations, and by how successful employee retention programs are. There’s evidence that business performance is interrelated—and that the impact of workforce shortages can be mitigated by business leaders understanding the full potential of their supply and logistics operations and why employee retention is so critical to supply chain and logistics performance.

Descartes and SAPIO Research surveyed 1,000 supply chain and logistics decision-makers in late 2023 across three sectors:

a) manufacturing, distribution and retail;

b) carriers; and

c) logistics services providers.

The goal was to understand the nature of any workforce shortages they were facing and the impact of resource constraints on their operations and business success. Respondents were based across nine European countries, Canada and the United States, and held Owner, C-Suite, Director and Manager-level positions in their respective organizations. Learn more about the How Bad Is the Supply Chain and Logistics Workforce Challenge? survey results.


Reduce Fatigue and Stress in the Warehouse by Combining Productivity with Ergonomics

Fluctuating flow rates and the faster pace of work in warehouses can be a source of stress for workers, who often suffer from musculoskeletal disorders. Reducing the need for movement and repetitive gestures is becoming essential to preserving the health of the men and women who prepare orders. Goods-to-person robotics offers a way to combine ergonomics and safety with productivity.

Today’s logistics professionals must cope with the surge in e-commerce and the focus on omnichannel retailing while addressing emerging needs among both professional and residential consumers. As warehouses become increasingly functional and sprawling, that means unpredictable peaks in activity and an unprecedented increase in retail order picking – time-consuming operations that require resources, handling and travel through the

In order to coordinate and absorb those retail flows as effectively as possible to meet demand, logistics engineers must become more efficient and productive, beyond trading off their resources as an adjustment variable. Automation, and specifically goods-to-person robotics, is one critical element for ensuring productive logistics without compromising on operator safety and well-being. Improved working conditions in the warehouse that eliminate repetitive handling and movements will inevitably lead to lower turnover, reduced absenteeism and better productivity!

Goods-to-person robotics for reducing operator stress and exertion

Repetitive gestures and the need to cover several kilometres and handle heavy loads can all lead to fatigue, impaired efficiency and musculoskeletal disorders, the primary cause of occupational disease in France. By preventing and reducing those ills, firms can address both human and financial concerns for improved logistics performance.

Goods-to-person robotics, in which goods come to people, significantly reduces stress and exertion for operators in three areas: number of kilometres travelled, repetitive movements and the need to carry heavy loads.

With a goods-to-person robotics solution in place, operators conduct order picking from an ergonomic workstation – eliminating the time spent walking more than 15 kilometres per day on average, the need to pick up anywhere from 1 to 8 tonnes of weight a day, and improper handling. Roaming the warehouse looking for products not only results in lost productivity and stress, it can account for up to 70% of idle time in an operator’s day! Eliminating those tasks helps to improve logistics efficiency.

Goods-to-person robotics for improving personnel safety

In the face of the pandemic, warehouses have had to implement new safety rules to maintain physical distancing and limit movement and prolonged contact among operators. On top of those requirements for protecting health, it’s important to safeguard the physical well-being of operators, regardless of the work environment and the products being handled.

In addition to eliminating worker traffic through the warehouse, which can lead to collisions and falls, goods-to-person robotics guarantees a safe distance between the operator and the most hazardous products. The most sensitive products are tracked and stored on shelves in an enclosed area; operators handle those products with the necessary know-how. Errors and improper handling are a thing of the past among both experienced and temporary operators, who are guided through every step.

Goods-to-person robotics for unmatched workstation ergonomics

Goods-to-person robotics not only optimizes retail flows and improves order-picking efficiency; it also guarantees unmatched workstation ergonomics compared to traditional equipment.

The goods-to-person workstation occupies a smaller space and can be customized to ensure workers use the best posture when picking orders; the height of the shelves is configurable for easy access and handling, as are the container dimensions. Everything about the workstation has been designed to reduce repetitive movements and operator fatigue.

Moreover, it allows for rotating teams. Goods-to-person robotics provides for employee versatility: workers can be trained in a few hours and can work on a variety of tasks.

Scallog is constantly collaborating with employees to identify the optimal workstation configuration: thanks to a 3D environment, they can see themselves as they make virtual movements. Like exoskeletons, goods-to-person robotics represents one of the best technological solutions for reducing musculoskeletal disorders and arduous working conditions in the warehouse without compromising on productivity, which increases an average of 40%!

In conclusion, goods-to-person robotics does more than simply reduce worker stress and improve safety; ideally, it can be one component of a strategy by logistics specialists to address Workplace Quality of Life for warehouse operators. Improving working conditions and tracking day-to-day activity more effectively promotes greater employee engagement and motivation on behalf of logistics performance. In that sense, goods-to-person robotics helps to strike a better balance between faster production rates and employee well-being to ensure sensible warehouse productivity!


Founded in 2013, Scallog is a French company that designs, manufactures and markets robotics solutions for the logistics sector to boost warehouse agility and productivity for 3PL, e-commerce, distribution and manufacturing companies. In light of changes in B2C and B2B consumer demand patterns, particularly in terms of product availability and delivery, the Scallog solution helps companies accelerate order picking and absorb peaks in activity whilst reducing tough working conditions for employees and smoothing investment. Scallog’s Goods-to-Person range includes the best ‘smart’ decision-making and execution software and mobile robotics, meeting the need of logistics operators to increase order picking flexibility and integrate automation more widely in their warehouses. With over 30 different clients to its name and substantial funds raised, Scallog – the pioneer of scalable, flexible logistics robotics – is now aiming to boost its growth across Europe and internationally.