May 19, 2024

How Automation is Creating New Job Opportunities in Logistics

Automation often gets a bad rap for supposedly taking away jobs, but in reality, it's doing quite the opposite in the logistics industry. Advancements in technology are not only making operations more efficient but also creating a variety of new job opportunities. Let's dive into how this transformation is unfolding and what it means for the workforce in logistics.

The Rise of Automation in Logistics

Over the past decade, automation in logistics has evolved from simple mechanisation to sophisticated systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics. These technologies are revolutionising supply chains by enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and speed.

For instance, IoT provides real-time visibility into every aspect of the supply chain, from inventory levels to environmental conditions during transit​. AI is used to predict demand and optimise routes, reducing both costs and environmental impacts​. Robots are now common in warehouses, handling tasks like picking and packing with greater speed and precision than human workers alone.

New Job Roles Emerging

Contrary to the fear that automation leads to job losses, it actually creates new roles, they just require a slightly different skill sets. A study by the World Economic Forum found that digital technologies are expected to create at least 12 million jobs globally by 2025​.

Maintenance and Technical Support Roles

One of the most significant areas of job creation is in the maintenance and support of automated systems. As warehouses and fulfilment centres become more automated, there's a growing need for skilled technicians to keep these systems running smoothly. According to a Honeywell study, 80% of companies across all industries see the highest potential for new jobs in maintenance roles​​. These roles involve performing preventative maintenance, troubleshooting issues, and ensuring minimal downtime.

IT and Data Analysis Roles

With the integration of AI and IoT, the logistics sector now needs more IT professionals and data analysts. These experts manage the vast amounts of data generated by automated systems, ensuring everything runs smoothly. IT support teams are crucial for maintaining the software and hardware that power these systems, while data analysts use big data to optimise operations, enhance route planning, and improve supply chain transparency​.

Impact on HGV Drivers

Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers are essential to the logistics industry, and their roles are also slowly being reshaped by automation. While the introduction of autonomous vehicles and automated logistics systems might seem threatening, there are several ways these advancements can benefit HGV drivers and the industry at large.

Enhanced Safety and Reduced Workload

Automation technologies, such as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), are already being implemented in trucks to enhance safety and reduce the strain on drivers. These systems include features like automatic braking, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control, which can help prevent accidents and reduce driver fatigue. This makes long-haul driving safer and less stressful for HGV drivers.

New Opportunities in High-Tech Vehicles

As the industry evolves, there will be a growing need for drivers who are trained to operate high-tech, semi-autonomous trucks. These vehicles still require human oversight, especially for navigating complex environments and handling unexpected situations. Drivers with the skills to manage these advanced systems will be in high demand, opening up new career opportunities within the field​.

Opportunities for Drivers to Make Career Changes

Automation can also shift drivers' focus from driving roles to other areas of the industry. For example, instead of spending long hours on the road, drivers could take on responsibilities related to managing and coordinating automated fleets, ensuring that systems run smoothly, and handling complex logistical challenges that require human judgment and decision-making​​. Having these additional tech related roles available will hopefully be appealing to drivers who may be looking for a career change but also don't want to leave the industry completely. Their hands on experience combined with these new roles will make an excellent skillset.

Real-World Examples

Amazon Robotics

Amazon is a shining example of how automation can create jobs. In their fulfilment centres, robots work alongside human employees to manage inventory and process orders. This integration of automation has led to the creation of roles in robot maintenance, IT support, and operational management.

Honeywell Intelligrated

Honeywell's Intelligrated solutions demonstrate how investment in automation fosters job creation. Their systems for automated material handling require skilled technicians for maintenance and troubleshooting. Honeywell also leverages augmented reality technologies to assist technicians, providing real-time support and step-by-step instructions​​.

Future Trends and Predictions

Looking ahead, the logistics industry is set to continue evolving with technological advancements. Companies are increasingly adopting AI, IoT, and robotics to stay competitive. This trend is likely to create more job opportunities in areas such as:

  • Cybersecurity: Protecting the data generated by automated systems.
  • AI Specialists: Developing and refining AI algorithms for logistics applications.
  • Sustainability Experts: Implementing eco-friendly practices and technologies to reduce the environmental impact of logistics operations​.

Automation in logistics is a dynamic force that's reshaping the industry. While it does replace some manual tasks, it also creates a wealth of new job opportunities that require specialised skills. From maintenance technicians to IT support and data analysts, these emerging roles are essential for the continued growth and efficiency of the logistics sector. For HGV drivers, automation brings enhanced safety, reduced workload, and new career opportunities. Embracing these changes and investing in workforce training will be key to leveraging the full potential of automation in logistics.

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