What’s Next for the Warehouse Worker?

The Warehouse Worker: Exploring the Changing Role

Hiring managers for warehouses and distribution centers will be the first to tell you that recruiting and retaining warehouse workers is harder than ever thanks to unemployment rates hovering at 50-year lows. According to a recent survey by Statistica, half of warehouse operations managers identified the inability to attract and retain a qualified hourly workforce as their biggest challenge.

Increasing fulfillment demands from the eCommerce boom are creating an extremely tight warehouse labor market. What’s more, a recent study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that warehouse workers suffer work-related injuries at nearly twice the rate of other private industry workers, including those in some of the most dangerous industries like coal mining and construction.

If the headlines bear out, automation will begin replacing warehouse workers. Two years ago, when leading Chinese eCommerce platform JD.com introduced the world’s first fully automated warehouse in Shanghai, many wondered if we are heading towards a future of human-less, “dark” warehouses. If this is our destiny, does the warehouse worker soon become obsolete?

To continue reading this article, click here to go to the Other Voices section of Modern Materials Handling. This piece has been syndicated to four other Peerless Network publications, as well.