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August 15, 2023

Ongoing labor shortage accelerates automation decisions

As we move toward 2024, the Material Handling Equipment Dealers Association (MHEDA) recently released its Top 14 business trends impacting the material handling industry. Emerging technology and a continuing demand for automation are on the list, along with an ongoing labor shortage.

In a recent survey by automation software company UiPath, two-thirds of executives said their companies were experiencing labor shortages, and almost 80 percent said they will invest in automation to help offset a decreased workforce. 

Often portrayed as a foe to workers who feared being replaced, automated technology today is perceived as an ally that can make their jobs easier, more fulfilling and safer, according to a survey of 500 U.S. warehouse workers commissioned by Lucas Systems.

Lucas Systems Voice of the Warehouse Worker Insights found that technology is a critical driver in employee attraction and retention, with 74 percent of respondents saying they were willing to trade pay for better technology tools to do their jobs.

One of the study’s most impactful findings shows that 90 percent of respondents believe investment in new technology will help attract and retain workers rather than create a fear of replacement. And 88 percent said they believe that investing in automation is an investment in the company’s workforce.

In addition to bottom-line benefits such as higher productivity and increased profits, automated solutions have inherent benefits such as less physical exertion that leads to increased personal safety, greater job satisfaction and less staff turnover.

In fact, a recent survey by Salesforce, a San Francisco, CA-based customer relationship management software company, found that 89 percent of full-time workers are more satisfied with their job because of automation, and 91 percent say that automation saves them time and offers a better work-life balance.

Automation also can address the need for a stronger supply chain ecosystem between vendors and suppliers – one that includes insights for inventory levels, anticipated needs and productivity measurements, according to Carolina Handling Executive Vice President of Sales Mike Gainor.

“The increasing availability of goods and strong consumer buying power mean there are more materials to move and a need to increase the throughput of those materials,” Gainor said. “And with a lingering labor shortage, supply chain leaders are turning to automation as the answer.”

In 2022, sales of material handling equipment totaled $140 billion and are estimated to reach $320 billion by 2032. The automated material handling market is predicted to be $69 billion by 2030, growing at about 9 percent each year.

A recent trade association report shows the types of equipment and technology to be adopted over the next five years:

  • Robotics and automation: 78% adoption
  • Driverless vehicles: 65% adoption
  • Inventory and network optimization: 88% adoption
  • Sensors and automatic ID: 83% adoption
  • Advanced + predictive analytics: 81% adoption
  • Internet of Things: 68% adoption

These trends fall in line with overcoming the top challenges in today’s supply chain, including:

  • Using automation to get products to consumers faster
  • Using inventory and network optimization to remove stocking gaps
  • Using data and technology to provide transparency up and down the supply chain

A company long associated with lift trucks, Carolina Handling continues to build its strong reputation as an integrated, automation solutions provider as customers adjust their supply chain strategies to address continuing labor shortages and consumer demand for faster shipping.

Go HERE for more information on Carolina Handling automation expertise, technologies and proven processes.