More than half of supply chain and logistics operations prioritizing automation amid labor challenge

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Screenshot 2024 04 15 At 9 52 38 AmDescartes Systems Group

A recent study compiled by Descartes Systems Group showed that 54% of the supply chain and logistics leaders surveyed are focused on automating non-value-added and repetitive tasks with technology to improve worker productivity.

The top technologies being deployed, according to the study What Are Companies Doing to Survive the Supply Chain and Logistics Workforce Challenge?, 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%).

The survey showed that 76% of respondents are facing notable workforce shortages in their supply chain and logistics operations, an issue most companies have grappled with since mid-2020. Based on the results of the study, Descartes Executive Vice President of Industry Chris Jones said he believes 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.

“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,” he said.

Descartes and SAPIO Research surveyed 1,000 supply chain and logistics decision-makers in late 2023 across three sectors: a) manufacturing, distribution and retail; b) carriers; and c) logistics services providers. The goal was to understand what supply chain and logistics organizations are doing to improve worker productivity, attract and retain employees and find alternate labor sources to mitigate workforce challenges today and in the future. Respondents were based across nine European countries, Canada and the United States, and held Owner, C-Suite, Director and Manager-level positions in their respective organizations.

The study’s results also showed that the strategies, tactics and technologies used by companies to address labor constraints vary by financial performance, growth, management’s perceived importance of supply chain and logistics operations, and by how successful employee retention programs are.

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While transportation-related technologies were cited as the greatest deployed to mitigate the impact of the current labor market, the survey found warehousing operations (40%) was the top area for investment followed by transportation operations (32%). Only 4% of respondents said that they were not investing in technology to mitigate workforce shortages. 

Screenshot 2024 04 15 At 9 52 08 AmDescartes Systems Group

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].