Companies are building on recent tech investments to combat productivity challenges, according to a survey of more than 200 supply chain workers released this week.
Ivanti Wavelink, the supply chain arm of Utah-based IT software company Ivanti, polled a range of supply chain professionals for its Heavy Lift: Supply Chain Trends for 2023 report, including warehouse workers, drivers, analysts, customer support specialists, and C-suite executives. The company found that technology continues to play a vital role in addressing productivity issues that stem from labor challenges, and that the majority of companies plan to invest in new technology to increase productivity over the next year.
“The survey indicates it’s difficult—and critical—to get and keep the right people in the right roles, and respondents are looking to intuitive technology to help workers do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible,” according to a press release announcing the report’s findings.
Labor shortages and the need to create a more productive workforce were top concerns at all levels, according to the report. Respondents cited the time needed to train workers (52%) and high turnover (50%) as top workforce challenges, followed by the need for digital “upskilling” (41%).
Organizations are embracing technology and automation to address those concerns, focusing specifically on enhancing workers’ experience and productivity. About 85% of respondents said they plan to invest in new technology and/or build upon existing technology in the next year, with more than half (53%) saying they intend to increase automation by up to 30%.
“The right technology can be leveraged to make warehouse jobs easier, more efficient, more productive, and with far less physical burden,” according to the report.
Survey respondents said that hand-held mobile computers with barcode scanners (58%) and tablets (50%) are the most-used tech tools in supply chain today. Wearable computers and automated picking tools are less utilized but trending upwards, according to the report, with respondents indicating that these tools are the top items they plan to invest in throughout the next year.
Ease of use and dependability will be central to accelerating adoption and helping those investments pay off. The survey found that reliability/uptime is the biggest consideration when evaluating new tech (69%), but other concerns are close behind: ease of deployment (67%), ease of learning (63%), and adaptability, characterized as a system that can quickly react to needed changes (63%).
“With the current shortage of available labor, many industries are better equipping their teams with technologies that help them optimize workflow. By embracing technology to help streamline operational efficiency, organizations can increase productivity, reduce costs, save time, and improve customer satisfaction,” Brandon Black, senior vice president and general manager for Ivanti Wavelink, said in the press release. “Additionally, by implementing technology and automation that uses real-time data, companies can gain end-to-end visibility that allows them to evaluate information more efficiently and be more agile in mitigating issues.”