Inbound Logistics | September 2022


by John Arnott Vice President of Vehicle Operations, Outrider | 303-589-4749

Prioritizing Meaningful and Safe Work Warehouses and distribution centers face a shortage of truck drivers and workers, both with high turnover. Finding and retaining quality labor, coupled with rising employee expectations, are major areas of ongoing and growing concern. deploying automation responsibly. Another aspect of responsibly deploy- ing automation lies in the area of sustainability. Companies are mov- ing to more sustainable logistics networks, including aggressively replac- ing diesel-burning yard trucks with

from uncomfortable or even danger- ous working conditions, resulting in more attractive jobs and better reten- tion. And, while companies benet from proper stafng levels, employees see career advancement opportunities and more exible work options come to the forefront. The lasting footprint of the industrial revolution was more technical jobs, safer workplaces, and fewer hours. With the autonomous revolution still in its infancy but underway, I have seen rsthand that when an employee’s repetitive task is replaced by a robot, they develop skills more tting for a human. REALIZING THE BENEFITS To realize these benets, however, companies must invest in automation and employee training hand-in-hand. Companies must train employees to work alongside robots, manage and maintain robots, or transition into another job within logistics and trans- portation. Employees must be given the opportunity to continue their work, so training and education is essential to

zero-emission, autonomous yard trucks and reducing the time over-the-road trucks spend idling in the yard. The spark of this transition is the health of people and the environment. The accelerants are the declining cost of batteries and increasing cost of fossil fuel. In 2022 and beyond, businesses will prioritize more meaningful work and safer and healthier work environments to attract and retain essential workers. Companies must start now to implement big changes, like automation. Inside the warehouse, robots help workers lift, pick, sort, and inventory products. Outside, autonomous yard trucks help back trailers into loading docks so goods can be transitioned from the warehouse to the open road, and ulti- mately, to their nal destinations. Warehouses and distribution centers are only one link in the supply chain. Yet, disruption in one link creates a wave of disruptions up and down the chain. That’s why we must create a supply chain—link by link—with working conditions where everyone, from the warehouse employee to the end consumer, wins. n

Why are these positions so hard to ll and stay lled? Many warehouse and distribution center jobs—especially for those working outside in the trailer yard— are considered “D3” jobs: dull, dirty, and dangerous. First, these jobs are lled with repeti- tive, manual tasks, which can negatively impact mental health, cause major stress, and lead to burnout and quit- ting, notes scientist Judy Willis in her paper Neuroscience Reveals That Boredom Hurts . Second, trailer yards are dirty. Over- the-road and yard trucks spew diesel fumes, drip oil, and track in mud, plastic, and paper. Third, these jobs can be uncomfortable if not downright dangerous. Most ware- houses and distribution centers operate 24/7. People work in the extreme heat or cold in and around 80,000-pound equip- ment where accidents can and do happen. These are the reasons why large enterprises, especially those in logis- tics-heavy industries, are turning to automation. Automation enables peo- ple to do more meaningful work away

32 Inbound Logistics • September 2022

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