Labor Shortage and the Rise Real-Time Visibility

Maximizing Labor Efficiency with Supply Chain Visibility 

Over the past 20-22 months, we have experienced worldwide disruptions that have altered and influenced lifestyle changes. With COVID-19 inspired Global policies in place, day-to-day routines for industries on a global scale had to change how they operate within the supply chain sector. 

The Labor Shortage Effects on Supply Chain 

As the pandemic continued and Stay at Home Restrictions were established, many began to re-evaluate their careers and professional positions, which created an influx of individuals starting early retirement. With the current labor shortage, organizations are on a mass hiring spree but are facing challenges in finding, hiring, and retaining talent. Goldman Sachs researchers led by Jan Hatziusworf estimates that these trends will last well into the year (2022) as nearly 60% of the labor force will not be returning. 

Some factors to consider are that individuals of working age and capability are becoming much more selective in which career path they are willing to consider/pursue. Many are finding alternative ways to make an income and establish financial stability and are choosing to stop working the traditional 9-5’s altogether. These variables, coupled with the competition from other industries like technology (remote positions have gained immense popularity) or health care, manufacturing employment has decreased nearly 400,000 from pre-pandemic levels, creating the supply chain labor shortage we are experiencing today.  

Despite the Labor Shortage, Consumers Still Consume

We saw disruptions in delivering goods and merchandise worldwide, from delays like the Suez Canal obstruction, slowdowns in China, and unloading in Los Angeles. With these disruptions and the labor shortage, employers are finding that due to a lack of visibility, they are having a hard time effectively managing processes, and unloading imports, resulting in slow delivery times and shipping delays rippling across the entire supply chain. Thus, organizations have shifted to keep up with demands, leading them to restrategize and reframe how to maximize their efficiency with their existing labor force, like adding new processes like pay for performance. However, not all organizations have implemented new software, strategies, or procedures to help increase visibility to their supply chains and deliveries, contributing to a 6.2% surge in the consumer price index. 

Rise of Real-Time Visibility - A Step Towards an Intelligent Enterprise

Although organizations have solutions to manage their inventory, labor, and warehouse operations, they continue to face challenges with increased velocity, complexity, constraints, and declines in labor availability, visibility, and opportunities for efficiency gain. Other organizations look to automation and/or robotics as a solution, but these solutions are difficult to assess ROI. There are great technologies available today that help with manufacturing, but rarely do these solutions factor in inventory, labor, or storage constraints and are limited with their ability to integrate between all systems involved.  

Real-time visibility into operations is the first step towards an intelligent enterprise. With the ability to monitor all aspects of a distribution network, users gain the peace of mind that they will be alerted to a potential issue before it happens; organizations can then proactively shift their focus to their customers instead of reactively responding to emergencies. Real-time visibility provides updates within seconds of an action into the warehouse; this is critical for distribution teams who need access to make point-in-time decisions about their warehouse operations, labor management, and inventory.  

Real-Time Visibility into Your Operations

At the start of the pandemic, when COVID-19 news was rampant, the lack of real-time visibility into necessary items like household groceries, manufactured consumer goods, and medical equipment began to show faults in the structures of the supply chain sector.   

With the urgency to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the country, one of the largest organizations in the world (the United Kingdom’s health care system) gained real-time visibility with Rebus. Rebus was implemented in three days and provided them with real-time visibility needed for the rapid and timely mass distribution of PPE.  

Rebus has helped various organizations gain control of their operations despite the constant worldwide disruptions. With Real-Time Visibility into your Warehouse, Labor, and Inventory, the Rebus Platform could be the solution you didn’t know you were looking for.  

By: Stephanie Alvarado

How Supply Chains Will Evolve in 2022 and Beyond

Looking into 2022, the easiest prediction to make is that the supply chain world will remain chaotic. Labor shortages abound, materials remain scarce, and expectations to deliver are higher than ever before. So, what does that mean for how companies will approach their supply chain strategy in 2022? They’ll need to rethink everything or get left behind.

Prediction #1; Labor Shortage Continues:

It’s no surprise to anyone that the first prediction for 2022 is that the labor shortage we’ve all faced in the supply chain will continue well into 2022. Once we get into the new year, companies will begin to implement strategies they’ve been sourcing through 2021. There’s no area of labor that can be left unturned – be it labor planning, employee retention, labor efficiencies, or robotics augmentation. Every strategy and profit impact option must be re-evaluated and rescoped. The way we’ve approached labor in the past will not be successful in the future.

Prediction #2; Need for REAL Real-Time Visibility: 

Now more than ever companies are recognizing the importance of real-time visibility in their supply chain. In fact, the ones who aren’t are being left behind. Disruptions are rampant and costs are soaring. Teams need to be more proactive in the way they handle their processes, people, and products. What’s happening in the supply chain now wasn’t happening two hours ago. The key is to get immediate visibility into issues as they’re happening—across DCs, WMS solutions, and partners.

Prediction #3; Rising Vendor Expectations: 

Companies are starting to demand more from their vendors in terms of functionality, cost-effectiveness, and reliability. Supply chain teams now need tools that work, use their data in ways that haven’t historically been done before, and provide a competitive advantage. Companies are no longer settling for clunky, one-size-fits-all business systems that come with costly upgrades and don’t work the way teams need them to in the new realities of today’s rapidly moving supply chain.  

Prediction #4; Vendor Diversification:

Just as companies look at restructuring their labor strategy from every possible angle, companies should be looking at their suppliers and vendors and diversifying across their core product lines. Whether ships are stuck off the coast of LA or there’s a massive demand hike due to consumer behavior that wasn’t forecasted, manufacturers need to be able to source their core materials through other previously developed relationships. With this comes added complexities of supplier management and data processing, but the organizational efforts to manage and maintain a responsive supplier network will be what gives some companies a competitive advantage while others are left with empty shelf space.

Prediction #5; Building Resilience Through Active Collaboration: 

Nobody can plan for every possible scenario, but teams still need to be prepared for anything. Now companies are realizing that all teams (and even customers and partners) having real-time access to the same data helps each perform better. Active collaboration also reduces the need for constant reporting and status sharing. If all teams have access to the same data, teams reduce their dependency on each other, freeing up time and resources to focus on core responsibilities and supply chain strategies. 

Prediction #6; More Consumers Will Expect Sustainable Supply Chains:

Consumers are holding corporations more accountable for their environmental footprints. Inefficient supply chains are not only costly, but also hurt the environment more. While the pandemic slowed or stalled many environmental trends in 2020, expect a growing resurgence toward companies investing in building more sustainable processes.  

Prediction #7; An Ongoing Need to Optimize Warehouses: 

Warehouses are expensive to run and maintain. With rising supply chain costs and labor shortages, it has become increasingly important for companies to find new and innovative ways to optimize the warehouse. This would include using technology to find and fill some productivity gaps, having algorithms complement human expertise, and leveraging real-time visibility during the shift to maximize throughput and optimize the supply chain

A lack of predictability is the one uncertainty when you look at where we’ll go in 2022. What that means for supply chain professionals is that they need to be prepared for the unexpected by rethinking everything. At the heart of it all is data and information sharing across not only their network, but into their customers and 3PL partners, as well. The assumption that something will change is the new mindset and being able to pivot operations to optimize and react is the difference between being competitive or being a new story.

By: Alex Wakefield 

5 Ways Real-time Labor Visibility Can Help Improve Labor Productivity and Performance

Many supply chains around the world are facing labor shortages. The world is running low on everything from chips to toilet paper, yet companies are unable to find enough people to help meet this sky-rocketing demand. In times like this, organizations need to get more creative in how they manage their processes, products, and most importantly, people.

Some of the world’s leading companies have already leveraged the power of real-time visibility in the warehouse to make the most of their supply chain operations. In just a few months of implementing our Intelligent Labor solution, Conn’s HomePlus was able to increase their labor performance by 9%. The value of real-time labor visibility doesn’t just end there as companies are now realizing that it can be a powerful tool to do so much more.

Here are 5 ways that real-time visibility can help companies improve labor performance and boost productivity:

Increase proactiveness: The real-time value of data is priceless. Rather than knowing at the end of a shift what the day’s performance has been and starting the next shift with a potential backlog, teams can measure, monitor, and track their productivity and performance in real-time. Supervisors have the power to proactively allocate resources and labor to bottlenecks and problem areas to help minimize impact.

Institute incentive programs: With the ability to track performance in real-time and benchmark against historical data, managers can build incentive structures to boost productivity Programs such as pay-for-performance can incentivize workers to do more during spikes and peak season.

Complete visibility: There is such a thing as too much visibility. The Rebus platform generates smart, powerful visualizations on to customizable dashboards that provide just the right visibility based on specific needs. This is great for warehouses that work with 3PLs, other internal teams, leadership etc. as they all could have distinct dashboards that eliminate the need for coordination and reporting, saving time and resources.

Foster a culture of continuous improvement: Not all processes are completely optimized. This is especially true in a warehouse setting when things are constantly changing. By allowing teams access to real-time and historical performance data, it is easy to identify trends, highlight problem areas and reevaluate processes. Continuous improvement requires continuous real-time monitoring.

Enables better, smarter decisions: With real-time and historical data at your fingertips, teams can track micro and macro trends and convert data into insights. These insights make teams smarter and enable better decision-making, helping improve productivity and performance.

Unlike other LMS solutions, Rebus has an incredibly fast time-to-value of as little as a few weeks and doesn’t break the bank. Furthermore, our cloud platform doesn’t come with costly and time-consuming upgrades- all our product updates are included.

It is phenomenal what something as simple as visibility in the warehouse can do for your supply chain. Teams that have implemented Rebus have reported higher productivity and performance while also increasing employee engagement, collaboration, and motivation. The possibilities with real-time visibility and Rebus are endless.

By: Siddhant Nagpal

About Rebus

Rebus is a unified platform that provides real-time visibility into the warehouse for distribution teams who need access to make point-in-time decisions about their warehouse operations, labor management, and inventory. Unlike other visibility solutions that focus on more readily available data from trucks and rail, The Rebus Platform focuses on the heart of the supply chain – the warehouse. By connecting disparate systems across the distribution network, logistics professionals have unparalleled access to view and manage their warehouse-like never before. 

Improving the Employee Experience in the Warehouse

How Real-time Warehouse Visibility
Can Help Companies Make the Most of their Labor

Supply chains around the world are struggling to keep up with the growing demand. The world is running out of everything from chips to people. This drastic fall in the availability of resources is triggering a global shortage in times when demand is reaching record highs. As the economy opens and businesses resume operations, everybody is running low on everything. Supply chains are struggling to find new ways to meet supply and demand.

In this post, we are going to explore how real-time visibility can be applied in a warehouse to increase labor performance and productivity. The most successful warehouse teams leverage real-time visibility to proactively manage teams, track trends in productivity, and increase employee engagement. Real-time visibility into metrics helps managers manage better while also enabling workers to work smarter.

3 Ways to Hire, Nurture, and Retain Talent

The life cycle of any warehouse employee can be broadly categorized into – Hiring, Nurturing, and Retention. Companies can leverage different components of real-time labor visibility to specifically target different aspects of their employee journey based on their needs, helping them make the most of their people –

  • Finding the right people:  Even though most roles in a warehouse setting require no prior experience, there is still merit in recruiting a specialized workforce to help improve performance. Hiring based on specific tasks can help improve productivity while also allowing experienced workers to train and teach newer members. The Rebus Intelligent Labor platform lets teams measure, monitor, and track both historical and real-time trends in productivity and performance to help highlight strengths but also identify bottlenecks in processes. This allows managers to proactively assign work through the day to maximize productivity while also identifying areas where experienced workers can have the most impact. Rebus helps teams find the right people for the right role by hiring based on trends.
  • Nurturing top talent:  Nobody is perfect. Even the best employees need help, patience, and some form of coaching from management to perform better. Warehouse workers are no exception. Managers need access to real-time data to identify the employees that need the additional help, track their performance in real-time, and measure their progress.
    • The Rebus Intelligent Labor platform lets managers drill down to a specific employee to understand trends in their performance. Managers can build individual training plans based on actual employee performance and proactively coach them while they are working. Not only are engaged employees less likely to leave their job, but they are also more productive.   
  • Retaining the best:  Never underestimate the value of a well-trained employee. The best way to retain top labor talent is by developing programs that help them feel challenged and incentivize them to perform better. With Real-time warehouse visibility, managers have the tools needed to build programs such as a pay-for-performance program that rewards employees for higher productivity, especially during peaks and spikes.
    • The Rebus Intelligent labor solution can help companies retain high performers. When Conn’s HomePlus installed Rebus, they were able to institute a pay-for-performance program that saw their labor productivity increase by 9% in just a few months. With Rebus, it becomes easy for managers to build such programs that help them manage volume and labor better. 

The possibilities with real-time visibility, and Rebus specifically are endless. Rebus provides teams with the tools they need to succeed regardless of their end goal. The insights from the platform can be applied to increasing performance and productivity but also be used to improve engagement, foster a culture of continuous improvement, end manual reporting, increase collaboration and so much more. Real-time visibility is changing the way companies manage people enabling a smarter workforce. The future of labor is intelligent.

By: Siddhant Nagpal

Intelligent Labor is the New Normal

As the world slowly yet steadily comes out of the pandemic, companies face another disruption – labor shortages. The lack of frontline workers in roles from hospitality to warehousing has a far-reaching effect on the economy, eventually trickling down to us, the end consumer in shipment delays, fewer choices, and increased prices. In order for the economy to make a fast recovery, companies need to fill these vacant roles or find ways to minimize the impact of the shortage.

How to deal with the current labor shortages

Companies are trying everything they can to attract, engage and retain employees, from incentive programs to recognition. A particularly high-demand, low-supply segment is supply chain planners. The backbone of any supply chain, planners help ensure the smooth movement of inventory, manage bottlenecks, and even manage the job duties of many workers. In the absence of adequate planners, companies need to find more efficient ways to manage their supply chain, increase warehouse visibility, and boost productivity.

A relatively easy fix to this problem would be for companies to increase their warehouse visibility to make educated, confident decisions on tasks and activities conducted in the warehouse. Utilizing warehouse visibility tools to help manage the already short supply of labor and companies can increase productivity; by tracking labor metrics in real-time, companies can optimize labor utilization and productivity.

Rebus Intelligent LaborIt is important to understand where you are doing better than expected in times like this, recognize those employees, and reallocate resources accordingly. Programs such as employee recognition, pay for performance that employers can use reward employees based on productivity and other incentives to retain talent and improve performance. A recent customer case study implemented the Rebus Intelligent Labor solution that enabled labor sharing across multiple sites, translating to a 9% labor saving equating to $1.3 million.

As we continue to navigate this frontline worker labor shortage, companies must understand their alternative options and exercise them to minimize the negative impact. Even though a warehouse visibility tool is essential, ensuring that the tool measures tasks instead of just reporting them is critical. Companies equipped with the right tools can weather any disruption that comes their way.

Rebus Intelligent Labor Helps to Optimize Workforce

Subaru Implements Rebus Labor

Viewing Real-Time Data in Supply Chain Operations and Labor Management

In today’s world, companies need information in real-time on what is happening within their supply chain operations and employee movement. Take, for example, Subaru of America. Subaru builds cars in the U.S.A. and Japan, and like many car manufacturers; different parts are imported from outside the country. Having high demand and tight timelines for shipping the right parts from the right distribution center put a lot of pressure on Subaru’s warehouse management and labor management systems. Unfortunately, their WMS and LMS solution wasn’t operating ‘holistically.’ On top of having integration issues, they were having problems exporting their data.

Looking to get the data they needed out of the WMS to support their labor-management needs and take the headache out of reporting, Subaru inquired Longbow Advantage for help. The first step the Longbow team took was to get a clear picture of what was happening. Longbow took the time to listen and identify critical issues. To help Subaru, Longbow replaced its Legacy LMS application with Rebus Intelligent Labor. Rebus Intelligent Labor is a cloud-based solution with a lower total cost of ownership that leverages transactional data from Subaru’s WMS. Rebus Labor allows them to measure their supply chain operational performance and labor utilization in real-time.

As with any project, there can be unforeseen glitches that arise. Taking this challenge on, Longbow’s team rolled out a series of custom widgets that were specific to meet labor performance objectives. This implementation built out analysts and reporting capabilities to Subaru’s specific business objectives. 

“If we saw something ‘weird,’ all I had to do was pick up the phone and get in touch with either my internal team or assigned Longbow Labor Engineer. The next day or next week, the problem was gone.” 

~ Sean Gordon, Regional Distribution Center Manager, Subaru of America

Longbow was able to use Subaru’s historical data as a starting point, and now they can adjust staffing based on recent and current, ever-changing demand. By using Rebus Labor, Subaru can more efficiently ship urgent deliveries. With Rebus, Subaru now has access to intuitive reports which eliminates confusion for department supervisors and associates. Gordon explains, “It’s flexible, accurate, and easy to use; you set your widget up, put your criteria in, choose the date range you want, then boom, you got it.”

What might seem like a soft advantage, Rebus Labor facilitated more than just labor improvement. Subaru’s IT department is not getting calls from their operations supervisors and training new employees is easier on this platform. Rebus has also benefited employees. The exactness of Rebus Labor ensures that payroll is 100% accurate. The system also helps Subaru’s management team recognize employees that are meeting and exceeding performance expectations, which creates loyalty that results in worker satisfaction and retention.

Longbow asked Gordon to sum up his partnership and service experience, and he expressed that “Longbow has exceeded my expectations. If I have a request for a new report, it’s never no. They are always willing to create new reports in Rebus Labor that meet our needs.”

By: Stephanie Alvarado

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