What does the future of warehousing look like?

It’s interesting to consider how the world will have changed in five years’ time.

By 2027, how many Prime Ministers will we have seen? Will England have added a second World Cup title?

When it comes to the future of warehousing, we will likely see a wholesale change to the way in which warehouses operate with the increased prevalence of automation reducing the need for manual labour.

So as more companies look to incorporate automate processes within warehouses, our Director of Operations, Dave Morris asks: what will the world of warehousing work look like in five years?


The future of warehousing and work

In five years’ time, it is safe to say, automation will be deployed in a lot more warehouses than is the case today and naturally this means businesses will be less reliant on manual labour.

The proliferation of automated solutions will, therefore, have a transformative effect on how workers are employed.

Currently, a full-time warehouse worker will likely work around 40 hours per week for one company if they are a core employee.

It’s easy to imagine a scenario where one employer no longer needs a full-time workforce working 40 hours each.

The advent of automation could lead to a workplace landscape that sees employees working for more than one employer to make a full week of work.

Of course, automation in itself represents an existential threat to the prospects of workers looking for a stable relationship with one employer, as has been the tradition in the UK for many decades.

However, it does give a new lease of life to short term agency providers who have the technologies to hand that can look after employees working for more than one employer in any given week.

This represents a seismic shift for the warehousing sector, but what’s contributing to these changes to the industry?


Warehouse labour shortages

It’s no secret that the warehouse and logistics industry has been facing a labour shortage.

“The problem is big. I would say that we are tens of thousands of short.” Clare Bottle, the UK Warehousing Association’s CEO warned in an interview with Business Insider when addressing the warehouse labour shortage.

Since 2011, the number of warehouses in the UK has doubled and demand remains high with the ‘golden logistics triangle’ of the Midlands no longer the only region of the UK to dominate the logistics industry. However, during that time employment in transport and storage has not kept pace, having grown by just 20%.

Brexit provided a significant hurdle when it came to recruiting workers and the pandemic has only served to exacerbate the problem. Couple this with a continued growth in online shopping, which is fuelling demand for warehouse space, and you have the perfect storm of staffing issues.

Meanwhile, continued pay rises are not sustainable as labour costs are already a huge proportion of overall operating costs.

These shortages have forced businesses to look at introducing more automated processes as a means of meeting delivery targets.


Is warehouse automation the solution to staff shortages?

Amazon and Ocado have left the business world drooling through the introduction of robotics into its warehouses, but despite the ogling, many were hesitant to introduce automation.

As time has passed, the falling cost of robotic technology and aforementioned staff shortages means automation is now a viable option for many businesses.

The increase in automated technology in warehousing will help companies to better cope with peak delivery periods and operate more efficiently within an economy that’s now rooted in e-commerce.

Automation sounds like a very effective way of working, in theory, but in practice there will be a number of challenges that need to be overcome.


What challenges do workforce changes present?

When it comes to warehouse staff working across multiple businesses, there are several administrative and infrastructure problems that need to be solved.

Firstly, there’s salary payments. With warehouse operatives working at multiple sites in a week, there would potentially have to be a central payroll system from one body.

The infrastructure challenges are also significant as workers may have to travel further than they previously would, and this makes it all the more important that warehouses have good road links.

Ultimately, there are several challenges that will come with the transition to automation. Workers and warehouses alike will have to adapt and issues such as infrastructure and payroll will need to be overcome.


How can Vitesse help your business?

The warehouse of 2027 as outlined above, will likely be characterised by automation and a fluid workforce, but ultimately the need to measure performance of a smaller team of operatives using Vitesse® will remain crucial. Maybe even more so with employees being more limited on time in one location in order to earn a decent salary.

Our labour management software will continue to give warehouse operators and managers a similar insight into their teams’ performances by providing real time data on individual efficiencies rather than a more one-dimensional and archaic units-per-hour measurement.

By using this data, operators can identify those performing below standard and use pre-defined targets set to improve their productivity. Improving individual performances helps teams to operate more efficiently.

With Vitesse you can be sure that, despite a smaller team, your warehouse will work harmoniously and efficiently.

For more information about our services visit the Why Vitesse? section on our website or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Louis Hill

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