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Survey: Supply chain leaders continue automation efforts

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Supply chain automation
More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents said today’s supply chain operations are experiencing notable workforce shortage issues.

More than half of supply chain leaders are moving towards automation to combat continued workforce challenges.

A new survey of 1,000 supply chain and logistics leaders from SaaS provider Descartes, titled What Are Companies Doing to Survive the Supply Chain and Logistics Workforce Challenge?, found that 54% are focused on automating “non-value-added” and “repetitive tasks” with technology to improve worker productivity. More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents said today’s supply chain operations are experiencing notable workforce shortage issues, with 61% calling the problem “extreme.”

When it comes to automation, the top technology choices in the study were delivery route optimization (54%) and driver mobile productivity (45%) solutions. For knowledge workers, the top technology choice in the study was real-time shipment tracking (53%).

Descartes found that among supply chain leaders, hiring laborers (e.g., warehouse workers and drivers) and knowledge workers (e.g., planners, managers, analysts) were the top areas cited (54%) as having been altered the most to address workforce availability challenges. Working time flexibility (35%) and adopting the latest technologies (34%) were the top strategies for attracting workers, while on-the-job training and education compensation (35%) and higher pay (34%) were the top strategies for retaining workers.

“The workforce problem is pervasive, and the study confirms that most supply chain and logistics organizations have made changes to their operational, technology, recruitment and retention strategies to help combat the issue,” said Chris Jones, executive VP of industry at Descartes. “Based on the results of the study, we believe that employers should continue to invest and evolve to get the most they can from their existing resources and focus on more than money to hire and retain a capable workforce.”

Other finders form the Descartes survey include the following:

  • 50% of leaders are co-mingling operations with other divisions to create scale and synergy.
  • Outside the organization, 40% are leveraging fleet & common carriers; 39% are co-mingling operations with other companies.
  • Warehousing operations (40%) and transportation operations (32%) are the top areas for technology investment.
  • 43% are working with trade schools to attract labor workers, while 37% are partnering with universities.
  • Immigrants (37%) are a top alternative source for workers, followed by people with
    disabilities (34%).
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