A looming labour shortage in the warehousing and logistics sector due to Brexit, Covid-19 and EU nationals returning to their country of origin cannot be adequately plugged by robotics technology, warns Midlands Pallet Trucks.
With many skilled employees leaving the industry, a majority of remaining workers have cited physical labour as one of the main reasons for role dissatisfaction, with some employers turning to automated technologies to help keep up with unprecedented levels of demand.
However, Midland Pallet Trucks, a provider of high-quality manual handling equipment including pallet trucks, manual stacker trucks and lift tables, is warning those thinking of investing in AI and robotic technologies that simply filling human vacancies with robotics won’t be enough to plug the skills gap. Many of the root causes for warehouse and logistics staff’s unhappiness still need to be addressed.
With online shopping booming as a result of the pandemic, many warehouse workers have found themselves under increased pressure to meet strict productivity quotas. This means that physical activity levels have significantly increased.
This increase in activity also increases the risk of injury, with many employees reporting musculoskeletal complaints that require medical treatment and time off work to aid recovery.
“Robotics certainly have their place in the warehouses of the future, but due to their lack of situational awareness and ad-hoc problem-solving skills, they will never truly plug the warehousing skills gap as some are predicting,” said Phil Chesworth, Managing Director of Midland Pallet Trucks.
“Instead, warehousing managers should address the root cause of why remaining workers are looking to leave the sector and offer them the manual handling equipment they require to reduce the physical toll of their jobs instead of simply trying to replace them with new technology. People are our most valuable asset in the warehousing and logistics sector, so it stands to reason we should be doing everything we can to support them after a gruelling 18 months.”