Supply Chain Disruption & Labor Shortages: How will you overcome?

Today, just about the only things that are certain in the manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation industry are disruption and uncertainty. Especially with businesses struggling to satisfy rising demand under the dual constraints of ongoing supply chain disruption and continuing labor shortages.

For perspective, consider these data points:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US manufacturing, warehouse, and transportation sectors were short 1.3 million workers in June 2022.[1]
  • Another study predicts that the manufacturing labor shortage could grow to 2.1 million workers by 2030.[2]
  • In a survey of manufacturing industry executives, 38% of executives report that attracting new workers is their top priority for the production workforce in 2022.[3]
  • In a survey of US companies, business leaders reported that supply chain disruptions cost their businesses an average of $228 million in 2021.[4]
  • And it’s more than the COVID-19 pandemic: A survey of 400 senior supply-chain and procurement executives revealed that everything from Brexit and the US-China trade war to major commodity price fluctuations and cyberattacks have disrupted the global supply chain over the past three years.[5]

Supply chain disruption and ongoing labor shortages don’t show any sign of easing, so the news is especially grim for businesses that are struggling with manual processes and inefficient legacy systems. If you’re stuck in that boat, what can you do?

For many leaders the answer is to take a fresh look at technology solutions that improve the mobility of their workforces and give them better insights into their businesses. After all, when you’re struggling to find qualified workers, anything that helps you retain and maximize the productivity of existing workers is something you need to consider. And solutions that make it easier to collect and improve the accuracy of the data that drives critical decision-making are worth a hard look, too.

Modernizing the technology side of your business often comes with two initial challenges.

First, where do you start?

Second, how can you manage the changes on the fly?

If you’ve asked those questions, you’ll want to learn about the Warehouse Maturity Model that we’ve been working on with Zebra Technologies. This is a strategic, five-phase approach to technology systems that can be applied to just about any business that relies on moving parts, products, and people efficiently. The key to the approach is that it adapts to your specific conditions, providing a step-by-step roadmap that’s based on the state of your existing systems. And, since the Maturity Model is focused on workforce mobility, data collection, and decision-making, it’s perfect for helping businesses that need to overcome labor shortages and supply chain interruptions.

For example, labor shortages are magnified when you’re relying on outmoded workflows and manual processes that require long training times. The Maturity Model will help you determine if those factors are areas you can improve upon, and what specific mobility tools you can deploy to make it easier for workers to stay connected to the data, resources, and people they need to work as productively as possible.

Similarly, when supply chain instability hits your business, you need streamlined access to accurate data that can help improve planning and decision-making. The Maturity Model offers a framework that you can use to identify shortcomings, then apply technology solutions that deliver better data with less work. The goal is to deploy technology that gives leaders the insights needed to make the business more agile, and more productive.

When labor shortage and supply chain problems prevent the manufacturing or distribution side of a business from meeting expectations, the impact ranges from lost sales and lower profit margins to dissatisfied customers and diminished brand reputation—none of that is good. So, since those challenges are here to stay for the foreseeable future, it may be time to consider your approach to modernization. If so, click here to learn more about our Modernization Guide or contact SK&T for immediate assistance.