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Volatility in demand is being exacerbated by consumers' use of the internet to make purchases, says Peter Schnorbach, senior director at Manhattan Associates. Just as this volatility makes it more difficult for companies to forecast demand, it also complicates planning for warehouse labor.
For years, labor management has been focused on improving productivity by tracking what people do and finding ways for them to do it more efficiently, Schnorbach says. "Now, labor forecasting and planning are becoming more important," he says. Managing volatility in labor demand "comes down to matching up traditional labor management engineering standards with more robust forecasting and scheduling capabilities," Schnorbach says.
This match-up comes to market as a labor management system. "LMS provides a database of standards and information that helps users plan and forecast how much labor they will need, based on projected demand," Schnorbach says. "And it does a better job of projecting what the demand is going to be by looking at historical throughput, consumer purchasing trends and other indicators."
This issue will become more prevalent as "baby boomers" retire and labor shortages are felt, says Schnorbach. "It will be increasingly important to cross-train warehouse and other employees so they can do a variety of jobs," he says.
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