No Robot Takeover in the Warehouse!

No Robot Takeover in the Warehouse!

Warehouse workers are quite confident that robots will not replace them … at least, not yet.

Part of their jobs involves precision work that robots do not have the dexterity or range of motion to perform. To warehouse workers, the greatest potential for robots is to assist them with physically demanding or unpleasant tasks.

Supervisory work also seems immune to a robot takeover.  Moreover, the high cost of robots rules out their use in small- to medium-volume operations.

At least for now.

This post is based on the NPR article, ‘Don’t Think a Robot Could Do This’: Warehouse workers aren’t worried for their jobs, by A. Selyukh, January 25, 2018.  

Discussion Questions

1) What is the primary reason warehouse workers feel that their jobs are secure? Should they feel that way?

Guidance: Discuss the present vs. future of robots in warehouses. The robots with which workers are familiar are still unable to do many of the picking and packing tasks they perform. Therefore, their jobs appear to be secure for the time being. However, the development of skilled robots, the need for greater efficiency, and the falling costs may threaten many of those jobs in the Continue reading

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Truckers, C’mon Back

Truckers, C’mon Back

The current demand for truck drivers is high. Or is it turnover that’s the problem? Or freight to carry?

A combination of driver shortage, high turnover, stressful life, and stagnant pay have contributed to a widespread rush to lure new drivers with financial incentives. If the shortage persists, the imbalance between supply and demand in this labor market will cause disruptions in the supply chain.

This post is based on the USA Today article,  Trucking Firms Offer Up to $8,000 for Drivers to Ease Shortage, by T. Evanoff, December 26, 2017.

Discussion Questions
1. What are the reasons for an apparently short supply of drivers?

Guidance: The main reasons seem to be low pay, demographics, difficult living conditions, and lack of privacy. The pay has been relatively flat since the 1980s, and like in many other industries, it has not fully recovered from the negative effect of the great recession. The large trucking companies’ hiring of inexperienced drivers seems to have heightened that effect. Many drivers are baby boomers and are retiring, further exacerbating the shortage. Truck drivers work many hours and are away from home most of the time. The addition of cameras in the cabins Continue reading

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2018 Supply Chain Predictions

2018 Supply Chain Predictions

January 10, 2018

What’s on the menu for 2018?  Expected supply chain management trends include:

  • increased supply chain visibility software use
  • the disruptive impact of the sharing economy of supply chain distribution networks
  • the increased need to improve supply chain speed (the so called “Amazon Effect”)

This post is based on the Supply Chain Digital article, Supply Chain – Predictions for 2018 Trends, by Greg Kefer, December 8, 2017.

Discussion Questions
1. Why is “supply chain visibility” a necessary ingredient to modern supply chain design?

Guidance: This is a thought question for students to discuss.  Some possible answers may include the need to coordinate with suppliers and distributors,  ability to better operate strategic sourcing efficiently, empower mass customization throughout the system, decrease inventory levels, avoid back orders, etc.

2. How could Uber and similar “sharing economy” outfits disrupt current logistics operations?

Guidance: This is a thought question for students to discuss ideas.  It may be helpful to start the discussion by illustrating that small packages could be delivered in local locations cheaper and faster with Uber perhaps than FedEx.  Ask students for an example of how warehouse space could be in someone’s unused garage for inexpensive Continue reading

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