Logistics Minded
GEODIS employees in a warehouse

Managing labor operations in the warehouse: how to boost productivity

Despite the development of automation technologies, IoT and robotics, labor costs stay one of the most considerable issues in warehousing operations and one of the most difficult to control. 

Efficient labor management represents a real challenge for companies and 3PL providers as they are striving to find the right balance between costs and productivity. Luckily, new technologies nowadays can help manage work in the warehouse and predict the amount of workload.

Voice picking in a warehouse

One of the ways to improve labor utilization is to implement more automated solutions for repetitive structured tasks. Such solutions as automated conveyors, voice-directed picking, pick-to-light and the use of connected glasses enable to improve the productivity of picking operations and reduce travel time. Thus employees are involved with higher-value tasks.

When it comes to technologies aiming to manage labor resources, there is a wide range of Labor Management Software systems (LMS). A LMS integrated with WMS (Warehouse Management System) can analyze labor reduction, offer planning and scheduling in a precise and accurate way, reduce in-warehouse travel time.

As LMS enables to track staff performance, some companies implement incentive programs for employees in a warehouse to boost the productivity. Thus a LMS represents an efficient tool to increase delivery performance and reduce overall costs.

Another way of increasing productivity that may seem obvious, but gives great results is encouraging employees’ mobility within a warehouse. Because the workload often fluctuates depending on inbound and outbound flows, it is better to have fewer staff members that can easily move from one task to another (picking, packing, receiving, replenishment).

GEODIS team in a warehouseThe challenge that HR in logistics are facing is reducing labor turnover. Recruiting and training new staff means losing time and money if they leave the company afterwards. Besides, nowadays warehousing operations are becoming more and more complex thanks to the implementation of technologies to speed up the process. In addition to it, 3PLs offer various value-added services that require skilled well-trained employees: contract logistics is not only about storing and moving goods within a warehouse anymore. It is in companies’ best interests to keep employees from leaving and ensuring proper training for them and also for temporary workers.

Thus, an essential ingredient of efficient labor management is gaining employees’ loyalty and providing them safe and comfortable working conditions. This engagement, alongside with proper planning based on reliable IT solutions and optimization based on automated solutions, will guarantee productivity at the best price.

 

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  • Saundra Raynor says:

    Reducing labor costs means ensuring workers are healthy. A large company had a worker who recently had a heart attack due to his smoking and obesity. It cost the company about $300,000; maybe more. They have now instituted a “no-smoking’ policy. Something HR might consider. To keep good workers, company should promote diversity also. Men, women, different races/cultures, religions, with a “no tolerance” police for bullying, or disrespect in general. We all want one thing: to work for a good company, with decent pay and a non-threatening atmosphere. In return, workers will work hard and stay.