Onward to the future
If our experience in the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that we can’t stand still. The challenges that unfolded in its wake are pushing us past our comfort zones, forcing us to adopt new ways of thinking, and we’re applying the software, automation and processes that will turn those fresh strategies into reality.
This month in Modern, executive editor Bob Trebilcock follows up September’s System Report with another terrific example of a company that’s responded to these challenges and is realizing the true possibilities of automation in warehousing and distribution.
Last month Trebilcock took us inside SB Logistics’ new 600,000-square-foot e-fulfillment center just outside Tokyo, where the team implemented robotic systems for piece-picking and packing, along with automated storage and retrieval, conveyance and sortation—moving the company toward a fully autonomous warehouse.
This month, we travel to Espelkamp, Germany, to visit the 600,000+ square foot DC operated by HARTING Technology Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of products that enable industrial automation. Starting on page 16, Trebilcock shares how the company set their minds on a highly automated, software-sophisticated facility that could handle sales of 1 billion euros per year and support multiple channels of business—including regional B2B customers as well as the replenishment of a global distribution network.
“Quite simply, between SB Logistics in September and HARTING this month, we’re seeing the possibilities of automation in warehousing and distribution,” Trebilcock says. “In fact, the HARTING facility, like SB’s, is a real showcase for advanced warehouse automation. And given the continuing labor shortages around the world and increasing customer service and quality demands, I think they point the way to the future of our industry.”
And while SB and HARTING are perfect examples of companies opening their doors to new ways of thinking, we’re proud to announce Modern’s collaboration with WERC, MHI and MHEDA for our first benchmark supply chain diversity study. Starting on page 26, editor at large Bridget McCrea and Trebilcock put context around all the findings of this initial survey.
“Virtually every company we talk to these days is struggling with employee shortages,” says Trebilcock. “At the facility level, the challenge is finding people interested in making a career in warehousing and manufacturing. And at the corporate level, the challenge is finding people with the right mix of skills for the changing landscape.”
It’s now clear that companies are going to have to look beyond their normal employment practices to find the right talent for the future. “They’re going to have to diversify,” says Trebilcock. “It’s true for all companies, and the materials handling industry is no different.”
However, to make that transition, organizations must know where they currently stand before they can take the next step. “And that’s why Modern did this first survey with these leading industry organizations—to create a baseline understanding of diversity in the industry,” adds Trebilcock. “We can now digest the data and grow from here.”