The “human factor” in the logistics of today and tomorrow

 

Interview

Borgholzhausen, October 19, 2020 – Digitization, automation, artificial intelligence: the digital transformation is changing logistics. This is nothing new in itself. For years, logistics has been in the fast lane when it comes to increasing efficiency through technology. Just as long as digitization has preoccupied logistics, there is also a latent fear in society and among employees that sooner or later technology will be replaced and rationalized. Is this fear justified? Our HR manager Marcus Meyer gives insights into the role of people in logistics – today and tomorrow.

 

The logistics are still labor-intensive. Will it stay that way? In short: how important are people in logistics?

“One thing will not change: People, i.e. our employees, are the linchpin of our work. Without them, logistics services are not possible. You are our capital. At the same time, however, it is true that automation is increasingly finding its way into logistics services. However, some activities are more efficient manually or simply not technically possible. One example is display construction or special packaging activities. Here the technology has so far failed, for example because of different packaging sizes. But even if technical progress allows a practicable solution in the future, there will always be things that human hands can do better. “

So people have a firm place in the logistics of today and tomorrow. However, digital change will not pass him by completely without a trace. What will change for him and his job description?

“IT is becoming more and more part of logistics. A warehouse without IT is no longer conceivable. Of course, this also has an effect on the demands placed on our employees. But this is not so much a colossal change as an adaptation to new trends and customer needs. An example: a picker will still pick in the future – just differently. Means: using new technical aids. What used to be done with an analog list is now supported by scanners or pick-by-voice techniques. “

How do the employees deal with it?

“Such a change process demands the motivation of every individual to develop themselves further with the company and the logistics. This works very well in the vast majority of cases. Because often digitization of the processes also makes your daily work easier. “

You speak of further development. Does this also have an impact on the required skills of the employees?

“Of course, it is an advantage if employees already have skills in dealing with new technologies. It is much more important, however, that you are fundamentally willing to deal with these topics. And with all the new requirements, one must not forget that more traditional skills – for example in the social area – will continue to be important. Because as we have already seen: The logistics remain personnel-intensive. And where there are many people, there is also a lot of interaction. So the importance of social skills is not diminishing. Employees have to bring this with them, because it is difficult to train social skills. “

Speaking of training: How does B + S take its employees into the logistics of the future?

“It is important to us to train our existing staff instead of replacing them with new ones. To this end, all of our employees are always trained whenever there are new technologies or processes. Nobody stands alone here. Because we want highly motivated employees in the future who are well prepared for new requirements and who feel comfortable in their modern work environment. “