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Heavy Lifting in IIoT: Alleviating Labor Shortages as Challenges Impact the Supply Chain Industry

By Alex Passett
May 04, 2023

May the Fourth be with you, readers. (Given today, a.k.a. May 4, is a Star Wars holiday that many take seriously.)

That segues into news that should also be taken very seriously, i.e. labor challenges being faced across industries, valuable survey statistics therein, and what can be done in order to head-on address this in modern and productive ways.

Ivanti Wavelink (the supply chain business unit of Ivanti, also covered in a separate Industrial Internet of Things piece recently) officially announced the results of its latest study:

Heavy Lift: Supply Chain Trends for 2023

Let’s start with Yoda. (Just hear me out.) In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says “Difficult to see; always in motion, is the future.” So too, then (for our IIoT-related news purposes here) is technology; it’s difficult to gauge with tip-top precision where, when, and how the next technological breakthrough will emerge. We work and live in an acceleratory time. Quite often, advancements across industrial landscapes shape and reshape the ways in which we operate, let alone how we adapt to them in order to operate in the best-possible ways.

Ivanti Wavelink knows this. That’s why its study surveyed more than 200 worker types – drivers, line workers, warehouse managers, analysts, customer support specialists and C-suite executives – in order to assess the current state of the supply chain and what is possible actions-wise to lodge short-term and long-haul improvements.

Ivanti Wavelink’s survey highlights the ever-growing importance of technologies being utilized smartly so workforce productivities may rise as lingering labor challenges fall. In this vein, one of its key findings was the difficulty – underlined as a critical difficulty – in hiring and retraining the right people for the right roles. (Roles, mind you, that must be designed to succeed with the right tools, rather than lag behind regardless of the hire.)

Per Ivanti Wavelink, respondents are seeking intuitive technology solutions to help the workers of today perform tasks with maximum efficiency, but concerns about rampant shortages in both effective solutions and in the right workers remained constant over the course of the survey’s inquiry.  Notable related workforce challenges included total training time (52%) and high turnover rates (50%) with another 41% of respondents also citing the gaping need for digital upskilling.

To address such issues, organizations cited technology adoptions (or adoption plans), as well as focuses on automation in order to improve productive workers’ experiences. Approximately 85% of respondents plan to invest in newer tech (or enhance existing tech) in the coming year, and over half (53%) specifically indicated their intention to increase automation capabilities by up to 30% overall.

When employed correctly, best-fit technologies can make warehouse jobs a lot simpler, more efficient, and less physically demanding. The most commonly used tools that the survey noted included handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners (58%) and tablets (50%). Wearable computers and automated picking tools currently aren’t quite as popular, but respondents did still identify them as investment priorities for 2024 or 2025.

And as we know, technology that is both easy to deploy and highly reliable can hasten adoption at Millennium Falcon speeds. According to the survey, the most significant factors when evaluating new technologies were reliability/uptime (69%), the ease of deployment (67%), ease of learning (63%), and adaptability – defined as a system that can rapidly respond to required changes – (63%).

Amidst labor shortages, equipping teams with optimized technologies should be the objective, according to Brandon Black, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Ivanti Wavelink.

“By embracing technology to help streamline operational efficiency,” Black said, “it is easier for organizations to increase productivity, reduce costs, save time, and improve customer satisfaction.”

“And by implementing automated solutions that use real-time data,” Black added, “companies stand to gain the kind of end-to-end visibility that allows them to evaluate information more efficiently and be more agile in mitigating issues.”

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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