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The skills shortage, and what has it to do with logistics IT?

The long-heralded demographic change is omnipresent and perceptible every day. The resulting battle for qualified specialists and managers is becoming increasingly fierce, and the transformation from an employer market to an employee market happened long ago.

Unfortunately, in the logistics sector in particular, these developments do not show a positive aspect. Logistics is still one of those industries that does not appear particularly attractive at first glance. Moreover, very few people know that there are very secure and diverse jobs in this, the third-largest sector of Germany’s industry.


Because logistics is more than just transporting goods from A to B. The events of the past few years should have made that clear to us: whether it is a stuck freighter, shortages of toilet paper, pasta and petroleum, or supply scarcities due to a lack of transport personnel as a result of Brexit or, as currently, the Ukraine war. Logistics is a complex sector that cannot function without qualified specialists, even in the digitalization age.


As a result, finding workers and retaining their loyalty to the company is one of the biggest challenges facing the supply chain today. Not only is there a global shortage of personnel, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult to attract workers to a warehouse environment, since the work is both physically demanding and often associated with dissatisfaction and high stress levels due to the ever-increasing pressure for efficiency and customer satisfaction.


How IT solutions can help


But how can companies face these challenges, position themselves securely for the future and, above all, how can efficient IT solutions help to counteract the shortage of skilled workers at the same time?


At Körber Supply Chain Consulting, we are confronted with such requirements in our projects on a daily basis, and we try to master them together with our customers and with the help of the SAP Digital Supply Chain Suite. Long gone are the days when it was possible to imagine logistics without IT. The good old “paper economy” era is over, but there is still a lot more potential lying dormant here.


But where exactly can this potential be exploited in logistics? Probably the best-known example is automation. The prerequisite for a higher degree of automation is process standardization, as well as the opportunity to reduce and free up personnel resources for other, sometimes more qualified activities. For example, printing and distributing orders should not be the employee's task. These activities must be automated. The Goods-to-Person concept also conserves resources and reduces errors.


Use of robots


Another measure might be the use of robots, which could, among other things, increase operating times while maintaining the same staffing levels.


However, both warehouse automation and robotics can only be realized with the appropriate software. Furthermore, IT can also help to design processes and dialogs in such a way that they can also be operated by unskilled staff, e.g. during seasonal peaks, and no long training periods are required. This allows companies to react flexibly to fluctuations and seasonal peaks.


With the help of modern, standardized IT processes, staff can be deployed more efficiently according to their qualification level. Internal processes are optimized in such a way that the individual's skills are better utilized. This also increases employee satisfaction.


SAP provides the right modules


With its digital supply chain, SAP provides the right modules and tools to meet these challenges. SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management), for example, can be used to control both simple manual warehouses and highly complex automated warehouses.


Implementing the best-in-class solution and intuitive dialogs also enables auxiliary staff to work to peak performance as quickly as possible - increasing satisfaction throughout the company. And even an experienced logistics manager will benefit from the clear dialogs, and can manage the shifts and workload much more efficiently.


In all these activities, the individual employee still remains the most valuable asset, which is why we also recommend involving the people concerned at an early stage in the context of projects, as only joint acceptance and recognizable benefits for each individual will lead to project success and thus to the company's future viability.


As mentioned at the outset, logistics consists of much more than merely transporting and storing goods. There is still so much potential to be exploited. We would be happy to support you in mastering your challenges. We look forward to you contacting us.

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SAP Consulting & Implementation

By optimizing supply chain processes, Körber SAP solutions dramatically improve efficiency and maximize productivity for our global portfolio of customers.

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