Lack of qualified labor to manage sophisticated systems may hamper IT innovation, survey finds. The material handling industry faces an acute shortfall of human capital to manage and maintain increasingly sophisticated technologies, a gap likely to widen as a blizzard of IT innovations demands a level of employee training that is currently lacking. Those findings come from the second annual report on the state of the industry, released today by the material handling trade group MHI and the consultancy Deloitte. The report, which relied on findings from a survey of more than 400 high-level supply chain executives across multiple verticals, found that 31 percent said the absence of adequate talent to work with new technologies was "a significant barrier to their implementation." MHI CEO George Prest said in the report that the "sophistication of the skillsets" needed to operate today’s equipment and systems "requires an equally sophisticated and well-trained workforce." The report was made public as part of the keynote presentation on the third day of ProMat, the material handling industry’s biennial event, held in Chicago. The 2015 conference has drawn more than 35,000 attendees and 807 exhibitors. (Automate, a sister conference held in conjunction with ProMat, drew another 300 exhibitors.) Most of the exhibits at both shows featured whiz-bang technologies designed to infuse the material handling infrastructure with more automation than ever before. Most of the IT advancements in recent years have focused on productivity gains and labor savings achieved by automating warehouse and distribution center functions that were traditionally handled manually. Today, material handling users have access to powerful predictive data analytics and modeling software; increasingly robust smartphones and tablets; wearable devices like eyewear and watches; 3D printing equipment and technology; drones; and even driverless, or autonomous, vehicles (the latter three being considered more futuristic than the […]
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