The COVID pandemic resulted in a major rift in the manufacturing labor market. Due to massive shortages, most manufacturing businesses are having difficulty filling hourly, entry-level, and mid-level positions.
Unfortunately, this may continue to be a pressing issue in the years to come. There’s currently a significant gap in employees with manufacturing skills, which could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030.
In the face of this crisis, it’s more important than ever to focus on creating a sustainable, safe and effective workplace environment for your current employees; a place where they can thrive.
Today, we’ll detail our top tips for warehouse leadership teams for navigating the current labor shortage, allowing you to get your business back to reaching its full potential.
1. Focusing on Employee Health and Wellness
We understand that labor shortages mean there’s more work to go around and fewer people to do it. Because of this, your leadership team might feel pressured to increase workloads for your current employees without proper consideration for their physical and emotional limits.
Work overload can lead your employees to burnout. Employee burnout happens when team members are physically and mentally exhausted, resulting in symptoms like a lack of motivation, depression, lowered cognitive skills, sickness or even deadly accidents.
Employee burnout is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Your employees’ well-being will be at a major risk, and their lowered abilities will cause backups and productivity loss in your warehouse. Plus, with variants like continuing to appear and some becoming more and more contagious, your employees’ exhaustion may lead to lowered immune systems, potentially sparking an outbreak in your facility.
That being said, yes – your company may need to raise employee expectations to keep your business afloat and meet the needs of your industry. Here’s how we recommend lessening the likelihood of widespread employee burnout:
- Optimize Warehouse Safety: This includes providing ample lighting on the floor, mandating consistent employee training on potential hazards and maintaining machines regularly.
- Consider Inventory Placement: Are your most popular products close to your shipping stations? Is your inventory management causing picking path bottlenecks? Review how you’re storing your inventory and if there’s opportunity for improvement.
- Add Organizational Tools: For example, bins are helpful for manufacturers of small parts like bolts, nails and screws. Employees can safely store those parts in a bin while they pick other items.
- Implement New Technology: New gadgets like hand scanners for pickers can decrease downtime and streamline your employees’ process.
- Invest in Material Handling Machines: Material handlers are crucial for reducing repetitive strain injuries and potential accidents, like products falling due to improper storage.
If you’re unable to add additional members to your team, it’s time to turn your focus inward. Invest in the tools and resources your employees need to succeed under these demanding circumstances, and you’re sure to see a decrease in process errors and inefficiencies.
2. Advancing and Training Current Employees
At Dalmec, our passion for employee safety goes beyond creating high-quality industrial manipulators – we also advocate for warehouse safety in all forms.
We believe your warehouse training should be robust and consistent, especially in these uncertain times. Here are the key topics we suggest covering throughout the year:
- Ergonomics: In an ergonomics-focused course, your employees will learn more about taking care of their bodies in a very physically taxing environment and profession.
- Loading Dock Safety: Here, you should be covering important loading and unloading safety topics, like how to use loading dock machinery, keep the dock in good condition and what to do in case of emergency.
- Chemical Spill and Biohazard Protocols: Even if your warehouse does not specifically handle chemicals as a product, there’s still a chance your employees could encounter something harmful. This could be a cleaning solution, a flammable liquid or something potentially poisonous that spills, or a major accident where employees could come in contact with blood. It’s vital that your employees understand OSHA requirements in these situations.
- Machine Safety: Machine safety courses should zero in on specific machinery and equipment. We suggest holding individual sessions for forklifts, industrial manipulators, conveyor belts and other large pieces of machinery.
This type of training is only helpful when it’s done consistently. Beyond training new employees once they start at your warehouse, we suggest holding routine training on machine maintenance, OSHA requirements, employee safety, new technologies and facility hazards at least once a year.
3. Leveraging Technology and Tools
One of the best ways to tackle the manufacturing labor shortage is to invest in appropriate technology and tools.
For example, with the appropriate use of industrial manipulators, manufacturing workers can work more efficiently, reducing both time and the number of people needed to move your inventory.
But what are industrial manipulators and how do they work?
An industrial manipulator is a heavy-duty machine with a firm steel manipulator arm allowing complex mechanical tilts and rotations. An industrial manipulator needs a human operator to control the machine. But instead of requiring multiple, an industrial manipulator needs only one person to operate the device.
Overall, industrial manipulators are frequently used in warehouses when:
- A product is too heavy for a person to move manually
- A high volume of products must be moved in a timely fashion
- A person will be put at risk for injury if they move a product manually
- A person will quickly fatigue from moving products manually
- A product needs to be moved to a location that’s not easily or quickly accessible for a worker to reach (for example, a very tall shelf)
First-time customers frequently ask us what industrial manipulators are and how they can get the most out of using them. If you have any questions regarding these tools, we’re here to help.
Investing in New Solutions
We understand just how stressful a labor shortage can be. But the tips we numbered above can jumpstart an effective strategy for navigating this stressful situation and getting your warehouse back on track.
At Dalmec, we’ve seen firsthand how much of a positive impact a customized industrial manipulator can have on a warehouse, and we know our machines can do the same for yours. Talk to our experts today about building the perfect manipulator for your unique warehouse.