Business / Reading time: ~ 4 Min.

What Will the Jobs in the Future of Logistics Be?

DHL Mitarbeiter mit VR-Brille

Digitization and automation are changing the way people work. The human factor is becoming less important in the practical implementation of simple tasks but is essential for strategy and control. Logistics is a key factor in this development. Firstly, to meet the growing demand with high service quality. Secondly, because logistics has to counteract the shortage of skilled workers. People want to be provided with an attractive working environment.

Future of Logistics Industry: New Technologies Change Human Labor

In the near future, there will neither be robots operating in deserted, fully automated logistics centers nor will driverless vehicles handle deliveries on a large scale. It is more likely that the logistics industry will undergo a gradual transformation. For the time being, employees will collaborate with new technologies without being replaced by them. In this phase of transition, more and more activities will be successively automated and simple tasks taken over by machines.

“We assume that 30 to 35 percent of all activities could be automated by 2030. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that in 30 years’ time, most of our value creation will still be provided by people.”

Dr. Thomas Ogilvie, Member of the Board of Management DHL Group, Department Human Resources, in an interview with Capital

This will primarily affect repetitive operations in the supply chain and at the same time create challenging fields of work. How high the share of fully automated processes in logistics will be in the future can only be estimated. Perhaps it will be around one-third in 2030. But no matter how high it will be exactly: people will always be involved in the short, medium, and long term. Jobs change, work remains. What will the jobs of the future in logistics look like?

The Future of Work in Transport Logistics

A lack of drivers already poses major challenges for logistics, and the shortage is likely to increase. The automation of vehicles thus is a task for securing the future viability of the logistics industry. Automation is the only way to respond to growing transport needs despite the strained personnel situation.

Teleoperation and Autonomous Driving

In transportation, the focus is on vehicle teleoperation and autonomous driving. Teleoperation means that vehicles are controlled not by a human in the driver’s cab but from a control center. Such technologies are already being successfully tested on the premises of logistics centers outside the scope of road traffic regulations.

But it will take some time before remote-controlled delivery vehicles are on the roads. This even applies to autonomous driving, although significant progress can be expected here in the next few years. Autonomous driving is made possible by the processing of huge amounts of information and data by artificial intelligence (AI). And particularly in the field of AI, rapid further development has been observed recently. This should also have an impact on the potential applications in logistics.

Supply Chain Automatisation

Big data is not only important for autonomous driving. It also helps to optimize individual steps in the supply chain at a strategic level. AI and Big Data analytics support effective route and load planning that makes the best use of vehicles and work resources. Moreover, they can enhance the supply chain’s transparency and resilience. Transparency can also be increased by interlinking all the players involved in the logistics process, for example through the use of cloud applications or blockchain technology.

In combination, these advanced technologies imply that the individual logistical steps are no longer based on human decisions but are initiated automatically.

The Future of Work in Warehouse Logistics

There is a shortage of personnel not only among drivers, but also in warehouses. Given this labor shortage and the volatility of demand, there is a significant economic potential in the use of stationary robots for repetitive processes. With the anticipated further development of robotics hardware and software, it can be assumed that stationary robots will be deployed on a large scale in warehouse logistics in the near future, which will have a major impact on the logistics industry. The market for robotic arms alone was estimated at €26 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow to €74 billion by 2029.

Robots are now already helping with work: sorting robots, picking robots, shelf robots, autonomously driving forklifts, and autonomous drones: robots in the warehouse are not a vision of the future but everyday life in modern logistics centers and warehouses. So-called assisted-picking robots support their human colleagues – otherwise, the shipping volumes of online retailing, for example, would be impossible to handle. And thanks to technical progress, for instance in the field of bionics, exoskeletons can relieve warehouse workers and protect their health.

To make processes even more efficient, there is extended reality: With so-called data glasses, useful information is displayed directly in the field of vision, making it even easier for employees to find the right location for products.

The development is progressing steadily. DHL Freight has already designed the terminal for the future so that we continue to perform our tasks efficiently and with high quality.

Future Logistics Jobs

Advances in information technology will change the way each of us works to varying degrees – some jobs will require the use of new techniques and tools, some jobs will no longer be needed, and many new jobs will be created.

The generations now entering the job market are children of the digital age. To be an attractive option for them, digitization in logistics produces strategic and creative jobs.

What specific tasks will people perform in logistics? Truck and forklift drivers, warehouse workers, and supply chain planners will be around for a long time and will be needed. Their valuable human contribution to practical logistics is indispensable. In parallel, new occupational fields will develop or certain existing fields of activity will gain in importance, for example:

  • Teleoperators who, unlike truck drivers, do not have to spend their time after-hours at rest areas
  • Maintenance personnel for robots and other technical equipment
  • IT supervisors
  • System administrators
  • Data analysts
  • Security analysts

No matter what area of work you are passionate about – DHL and DHL Freight are looking forward to meeting committed people with whom we can shape the logistics of the future together. We already have the jobs to fascinate the new generation of workforce.

Conclusion

Tomorrow’s world of work will look very different than it does today due to rapid progress in the field of IT and AI. Robots will often perform simple tasks more efficiently than humans, and at the same time the demand from younger generations for challenging jobs is increasing.

Jobs in logistics will shift more and more to IT-specific and strategic fields of activity – but people will continue to play the decisive role in logistics work.

It is crucial for logistics service providers to be involved in shaping the fundamental change in the labor market – so that logistics can continue to supply people with essential goods and support the global economy in the future. At DHL Freight, we want to be a reliable logistics service provider and an attractive employer for people with a wide range of interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How is the working world in logistics already developing today?
    Many work processes in logistics are being automated by digitization, for example sorting work in the warehouse or route planning for transports. The extent of automation will additionally increase due to the shortage of skilled workers.
  • What will jobs in logistics be like in the future?
    Drivers or warehouse staff will continue to be indispensable for a long time. On the other hand, the focus of work will shift to technology and IT, for example: teleoperator of vehicles, technical maintenance staff, IT supervisor, or data analyst.

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