Cutting the Cord: Gen Y Brings Mobile Technology to the Warehouse

Published : August 26, 2015

Mobile Technology in the Supply Chain

Believe it or not, Newton's first law of motion has a place in the warehouse, specifically among employees. As a "body in motion," the technical savvy of younger workers in the supply chain continues to grow and evolve—so long as their requisite companies embrace that evolution. Through cooperation and adoption, seasoned supply chain professionals are reaping the benefits of efficiency from these Generation Y workers, who are responsible for infusing fulfillment center workflows with innovations like the Internet of Things and more feedback-ready data than ever before. 

The Perfect Storm of Need

There are a staggering number of factors working against the traditional manual models found in stocking and shipping processes. Justine Brown of Inbound Logistics cites modern warehouse challenges such as increased consumer demand for personalization, ultra-competitive shipping speed goals and calls for consumer-level transparency in stock movement as only a few of the culprits. This isn't an era in business that can afford to mull over technological upgrades; rather, it's one that requires that they be installed as soon as possible, without disrupting the supply chain's movement in the process.

Veterans of the fulfillment center can handle what they know with skill—but asking them to learn an entirely new concept while simultaneously trying to merge it with their existing one? By any standards, that's a tall order, not to mention one that's gunning for errors. Generation Y workers, on the other hand, have the unique distinction of growing up alongside the technology that they come bearing into logistics positions. They have a literal lifetime of experience to offer, and smart companies are accepting it gratefully.

Like Calls to Like

Technology has long been a siren-song to potential candidates during interviews—a company on the cutting edge represents growth and an encouraging outlook for the future. In addition to the immediate benefits of incorporating mobile technology and its automated processes into fulfillment, the mere presence of that tech can be an enticement to valuable new candidates. While fresh college grads and other new workers are eager to make their company the best it can be, the idea of improving upon a stable foundation is often much more alluring than reinventing the proverbial wheel. The jump from manual or outdated computerized workflows to modern mobile tech-enabled ones is considerably more daunting than a simple shift from one operating system to another, or an upgrade to existing wireless hardware. Give your Gen Y logistics workers a little free rein, and you’re likely to see their numbers growing and getting goals accomplished more quickly.

The Ripples Move Upwards

Younger workers and newer technology form a dynamic duo that helps on the warehouse floor— and also has a beneficial effect for managers outside of the supply chain. Implementing wireless technology such as RFID gives both supply chain managers and their C-suite counterparts firm numbers to guide decisions and help keep resource planning realistic. Without the stress of delivering or justifying "gut feeling" forecasts, warehouse professionals have more focus to devote to the actual physical demands of the current day's orders. Managers are happy, clients are happy, and the supply chain moves more smoothly. Paula Natoli of Supply and Demand Chain Executive notes that this wireless-driven data can also be used to clarify needs for buyers and employee scheduling

Your fulfillment center is as complex and nuanced as the business that passes through it, so don't fall into the operational fallacy that a single solution will keep it humming along. Stay on that coveted cutting edge by recruiting tech-savvy Generation Y employees into your ranks when the need for wireless technology in the warehouse is clear. 

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Topics: Supply Chain Technology

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