How Technology can Bring Respite to Warehouse Operators this Festive Season
How Technology can Bring Respite to Warehouse Operators this Festive Season

The festive season in the country is here, and our digital shopping carts are getting filled again. E-commerce players are ramping up their operations to address the increasing demand, not only in the metropolitan cities but across tier II and III cities as well. This is evident from the fact that these companies are increasingly hiring across the supply chain, logistics, and delivery beyond metropolitan cities. Nationwide e-commerce giants have been aggressive in their hiring activities to quickly fill up such roles. This reflects that the Indian e-commerce sector is recovering well from the adversities of the pandemic and the forecast looks positive. 

The Indian e-commerce sector generating employment across cities is a really encouraging sign. As ecosystem players are expanding operations, front-line workers are also being equipped with the right technology to dispatch and deliver items on time. 

As per Zebra’s Global Warehousing Vision Study, about 60 percent of surveyed warehouse associates said that their employers are improving work conditions, and around 57 percent surveyed said their employers are adopting technologies to make their jobs easier. Nearly 9 in10 decision makers agree that they must implement new technology to be competitive in the on-demand economy, with 80 percent confirming the pandemic has prompted them to evolve and modernize more quickly. 

Which Technologies Will Provide the Most Relief to Workers?

Those on the front lines are placing their bets on wearables and rugged tablets that can run augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps and serve as vehicles for real-time task guidance. Mobile printers are also going to become more prevalent as operators push to minimize walking and fulfill orders more quickly. Also notable is a heightened intention to use mobile dimensioning software that automates parcel and carton measurements – helping workers to increase efficiency and offload a measuring tape from their toolbelts. 

Warehouse associates are no longer hesitant to welcome autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) into their workspaces, and many see the benefits of working with AMRs. As per an industry study, nearly 8 in10 agree that walking fewer miles would make their jobs more enjoyable, even if they had to pick or handle more items, and more than 80 percent surveyed now believe that AMRs could make warehouse jobs less stressful. Further, 83 percent of the associates surveyed agree that working alongside AMRs increases productivity and reduces walking or travel time. Almost three-quarters surveyed also claim that there is an improvement in accuracy. 

While many expected technologies to be influential in warehouses, not many realize the upshot in terms of worker morale and well-being. It is quite remarkable that 83 percent of current associates surveyed claim they are more likely to work for an employer that gives them modern devices to use for tasks versus an employer that provides older or no devices.

What More Must Be Done to Keep Workers Happy?

As per an industry study, warehouse operators say they are willing to invest in technologies that support workforce augmentation and workflow automation. As of 2022, around one-quarter of businesses surveyed have deployed some form of AMR, but that number should grow to around 90 percent within the next five years based on the responses received. Additionally, 5 in 10 warehouse decision-makers surveyed say they have implemented mobility solutions and are optimizing the use of such devices right now to fit the task, safety, and ergonomic requirements. Employers are also leveraging technology to create more flexible work shifts, which is necessary given the new labor laws taking effect in parts of the region. 

Over the next five years, decision-makers are likely to start investing more in radio frequency identification (RFID) and industrial automation systems that enable greater visibility, real-time guidance, and data-driven performance to increase team productivity. This will help to improve worker well-being and overall market competitiveness should the need to hire more workers to arise. 

The Takeaway

While many talk about technology as a disruptor, the only thing it is disrupting is our way of thinking about technology. The more we see what technology can really do for us from a business and personal perspective, the more we can embrace it. And the more we embrace it, the more things start to stabilize despite the uncertainties around us. 

There is a strong consensus among associates that technological advancements will make the warehouse environment more attractive to workers, even amidst challenging market conditions. With scenarios like quick commerce that changed the entire e-commerce landscape, warehouse operators have to move away from old business systems. Generating employment in non-metropolitan cities is great, but workers should be equipped with the right technology to perform and stay on the job – which is the goal for e-commerce players during the festive season and throughout the year.

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