Digitalising logistics: Good prospects for professionals who stay on the ball

15 October 2020 | Training: Companies are choosing to increase their efficiency rather than cutting jobs, says a trainer at TÜV NORD Akademie.

Hamburg: As digitalisation gathers pace, a lot of logistics jobs are changing. The good news: companies are choosing to increase their efficiency rather than cutting large numbers of jobs.  For logistics professionals, however, this means that they are going to have to be able to work with computer-supported systems in nearly every area of their work — such is the forecast of Prof. Andreas Rükgauer, a trainer at the TÜV NORD Akademie.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, predictive maintenance and completely networked logistics-4.0 infrastructure – much of this is already being tested by logistics companies. And yet, the large-scale deployment of these future technologies is still a long way off. “Even though a lot of energy is going into data-supported work – AI and Big Data, for instance – the success of that work has been pretty modest to date,” explains Andreas Rükgauer, Professor of Production and Industrial Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Würzburg and a trainer at the TÜV NORD Akademie. Nor is the use of data glasses in warehouse order picking very widespread yet, he continues, as the models available today still cause dizziness when used for a longer period of time.

Will digital systems replace workers?

Activities can easily be automated if the workflows are very uniform, i.e. if large volumes of goods are always processed in exactly the same way. However, this type of activity is uncommon in logistics. Andreas Rükgauer cites the example of contract logistics, a sector which employs many hundreds of people in the pre-assembly of parts for automotive suppliers. While the processes are often simple, they vary enormously. As a consequence, it would be difficult for machines to do the work, which makes it unlikely that huge numbers of redundancies will follow, Rükgauer says. And even if it were theoretically possible to automate even simple workflows, this would only be worthwhile if it saved costs or brought in significantly higher sales.

Real experience and digital computing power complement each other

Not everyone needs to be able to program, but: “Logistics specialists from all areas are going to have to be able to work with computer-aided systems in the future,” Andreas Rükgauer stresses. As in many other industries, the ability to work with machines is becoming increasingly important.

All this means that workers will need to adapt to changing requirements. Companies would be well advised to prepare their employees for changes in working methods at an early stage and to train them accordingly, so that even unskilled workers can keep up with the times. Professionals should find out where they can access relevant training. These preparations offer good prospects: after all, the more workers engage with digitalisation and develop their ability to work with machines, the better their chances of finding exciting and lucrative jobs in the logistics industry of the future.

The TÜV NORD Akademie offers a continuously updated seminar entitled "Logistik der Zukunft" (“Logistics of the Future”), in which participants learn to digitalise processes independently in their companies and to drive the pace of innovation. More information on this subject can be found in the knowledge portal of the TÜV NORD Akademie: (in German only)


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Annika Burchard

Industry, Energy, TÜV NORD Akademie

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