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Addressing the Manufacturing Labor Shortage

Per IndustryWeek magazine, “the United States still has the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and its market share (around 20%) has held steady for 30 years.

In fact, recent research shows that every dollar of final sales of manufactured products contributes $1.33 to the overall economy—the single largest multiplier of any industry.”

While the manufacturing sector is steady, there is one big problem and that is a big shortage of both skilled and unskilled available labor. The manufacturing labor shortage is happening now, but will get worse soon as many baby boomers begin to retire. Fewer millennials are pursuing careers in manufacturing as well, exacerbating the shortage. Without skilled labor, manufacturers will find it hard to increase profitability and provide excellent customer service. Consulting organization Deloitte reports that 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will be needed over the next decade.

manufacturing labor shortage

What can firms do to address the manufacturing labor shortage?

Solving the manufacturing labor shortage means addressing two different parts of the labor force- skilled and unskilled laborers. Firms need to ensure their skilled laborers can spend the duration of their shifts conducting value-added activities. At the same time, manufacturers must reduce the amount of non-value-added activities occurring in the facility in order to reduce the amount of unskilled laborers required.

Optimizing lineside and supermarket storage in a manufacturing facility is a fantastic way to keep skilled laborers happy and productive while reducing the need for (and the cost of) unskilled laborers. An optimized storage system in a manufacturing facility can:

  • Reduce waiting time by ensuring parts and raw materials are always at the point of pick for skilled laborers.
  • Reduce transportation waste from unskilled laborers by condensing and maximizing storage on the assembly line.
  • Reduce wasted motion by skilled laborers ensuring workers on the line don't need to travel to the next needed part or tool.
  • Reduce wasted talent by ensuring your skilled laborers are primarily engaging in value-added activities.

Companies that don’t optimize their storage and order picking operations may think that they can run extra shifts and have labor work overtime to keep up with demand. This isn’t true anymore as employees can only work so much overtime – and you can’t go out and hire more people, because they aren’t there to hire.

UNEX Manufacturing's Pickologists can help you offset the labor shortage with optimized storage and order picking solutions. From lean, ergonomic workstations to dynamic lineside flow racks, UNEX solutions are designed to reduce these wastes and minimize non-value-added activities from both skilled and unskilled laborers.