For links and show notes, mouse over the player and click the .
Ken Ramoutar is chief marketing officer at Lucas Systems. His career and experiences span 25 years of customer-centric roles in B2B technology companies. Ramoutar has navigated companies through uncertainty and volatility, bringing cross-functional experience in supply chain, marketing transformation, and customer experience. Prior to working at Lucas Systems, Ramoutar was SVP and global head of customer experience for Avanade, a $3 billion Accenture- and Microsoft-owned company. Other executive experiences include General Electric, IBM, Sterling Commerce, and Ariba / Freemarkets.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 00:01
Where will we find the warehouse workers of tomorrow? Trends in the 3PL sector. And new technologies at the docks.
Pull up a chair and join us as the editors of DC Velocity discuss these stories, as well as news and supply chain trends, on this week's Logistics Matters podcast.
Hi, I'm Dave Maloney. I'm the group editorial director at DC Velocity. Welcome.
Logistics Matters is sponsored by Yale Lift Truck Technologies, a fresh identity that demonstrates their laser focus on solving customer challenges through technology-enabled lift trucks and solutions. Put their customer-driven design philosophy, tech integration, and independent dealer network to work on your toughest labor, safety, and productivity challenges. Visit online at Yale.com.
As usual, our DC Velocity senior editors Ben Ames and Victoria Kickham will be alone to provide their insights into the top stories of this week. But to begin today: With advancements in technology such as automation and artificial intelligence, we all know that work will be different in the future. Most of our future workforce will come from Generation Z, many of whom have different attitudes, values, and motivations when it comes to work, compared to their previous generations. Recently, Lucas Systems embarked on a study about tomorrow's workers, and ways employers will need to compete for them. I spoke with Ken Ramoutar, Lucas's chief marketing officer, about this important research. Here's our conversation.
Thanks, Ken, welcome to Logistics Matters.
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 01:41
Great to be here. Thanks, Dave.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 01:44
For those who may not be familiar with Lucas, can you tell us a little bit about your company, and also the research project that you just completed on competing for the warehouse workers of the future?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 01:54
Sure thing, Dave. For those folks that don't know Lucas Systems, Lucas System is a 25-year-old software company. We make software for warehouses and distribution centers, specifically for workers and supervisors to do their jobs easier, faster, more safely. We do that through a voice and AI operating system. It's powered by a voice called Jennifer, which is really the brains and the overall orchestration of the whole system. Lucas, as I said, is a 25-year-old company. We've been, we're in roughly 400 warehouses around the world. Each day thousands and thousands of workers use Jennifer to do their job.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 02:38
And the study you just completed is “Competing for the warehouse workforce of the future.” Can you tell me why that research was conducted, and the importance to the industry?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 02:48
Yeah, Dave. As you probably know, labor and, you know, attracting and retaining labor's probably risen to maybe the number-one issue, you know, in the distribution business. And so, Lucas, being a software provider who make software for warehouse workers, it's something we're very interested in and something our customers are very interested in, and that's what's it really going to take to attract and retain the future workforce, beyond what, typically, you see, which is paying them more and trying to up the benefits, but that becomes sort of a very competitive game. So, we're very interested, both from helping our customers, but also how we evolve our products, and how do we make them better suited for the future workforce?
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 03:29
Now, Ken, a lot of this study dealt with the Gen Z workforce. So, how do they view work differently than maybe the Baby Boomers and others who have come before them?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 03:40
Yeah, Dave, I guess the first place to start is, you know, the majority of the Boomers are going to retire, here, in the next few years, and so, you know, the the workforce, you know, folks taking over those places in the workforce are really going to be the younger workforces, those closer to the Gen Z age group. And, frankly, there's less of those. There's roughly four million less Gen Z workers than Baby Boomers, so it's really important that we try to really understand what is going on with the up-and-coming workforce — and they do have considerably different points of view on what they want in the workplace, what they value, and what's it going to take to to keep them there.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 04:18
Can you share some of those examples of what they do value and how you can create an environment that allows them to succeed?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 04:26
Sure. I mean, if you look at the Gen Z workforce, their values tend to, they relate a lot more to around the environment, both physically as well as mentally. So, they're, they're much more concerned about the workplace in terms of, What am I going to learn? Is the work I'm doing valuable? What technology will I get here if I work at this place? You know, our study showed, Dave, that 74% of workers, regardless of Gen Z or not, would take a pay cut to work elsewhere with better tech, and that's even more announced with the Gen Z environment. So, you know, pay and benefits aren't traditionally, you know, are typically top of the food chain for the Gen Z workforce. They're looking for much more than sort of a traditional worker that we know today in the Baby Boomer category.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 05:15
And you mentioned technology. Of course, you make technology for warehouse operations. What kind of tech are they looking for?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 05:22
Yeah, when we did the study, we asked that question specifically, and, you know, they're really looking for tech as a general category; they're looking for tech to help them do their jobs. And they're looking for tech, that's very intuitive. One thing about the Gen Z workforce is, they use a lot more tech in their personal lives. So, they're very comfortable with things like voice-directed systems. They're very comfortable with using devices that look like smartphones, or scanning. So, our study showed that, you know, tech that's related to voice, to scanning, to things that really help them, kind of in a very operational way, but very intuitive, and they want they want the latest.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 06:00
So, in other words, a lot of this technology you're talking about is that kind of technology which engages them. Is that accurate?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 06:07
I'd say that's, that's very true. It's also tech that, you know, feels a lot like the tech that they're accustomed to using.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 06:14
Make sense. How important is training, and how does it need to be different for Gen Z workers?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 06:20
Yeah, training is a great topic, and it's one of the biggest pain points, I think, for for distribution centers, and I think the traditional approach is, you know, if you have great training, you invest a lot in training, you know, that will create, you know, a better workforce, and one that's more informed. But what's really happening, especially with the amount of churn that's happening in the distribution workspace and workforce, is that training is becoming a real burden. Often, training is done by your best people, when you get new workers, your best people, they're assigned to [your] best people, and you're taking some of your best people and you're slowing them down and kind of taking them out of the productivity bucket for a while. What we're really learning is that the Gen Z workforce, especially they want tech, that's what we call near-zero training, or even less-than-zero training. And what that means is, they don't really need a lot of training. The tech's intuitive, it's similar to what they're using in their personal lives, and in fact, that the tech can be very tailored towards the way they work. And I'll give you some examples. You know, voice — I mentioned the voice technology — they don't want to have to train the voice system; they want the voice system to recognize their dialects, their [inflection]. In fact, we've got customers, Dave, who are using multiple languages at the same time in the warehouse, so they can have a broader and a more diverse workforce based on their geographic area.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 07:43
That makes a lot of sense. I would think also, too, that the technology is something that can expand their productivity and make them better workers overall, once they learn how to use it, correct?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 07:55
That's definitely correct. You know, the Gen Z workforce in particular, they want to learn. They [indistinguishable] don't want to do. So, they're interested in tech that makes them better. They're interested in learning new things every day. We interview workers and talk to them all the time. Thousands and thousands of workers use our system. So, we get a lot of feedback on the things that they want. You know, many of them do want to go fast. They want to, they want things like gamification. They want to compete, they want to have a fun working environment while they're working. So, those are things that need to be integrated into the tech, now, for workers.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 08:29
You mentioned gamification, and I think that that is one way in which warehouses are being changed today, to make it more relevant for the workers that are going to be using that kind of technology. What else needs to be changed to get the most out of the workforce of the future?
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 08:44
Well, I think a few things that our study and our interviews revealed. One is, there's a physical environment as well. Workers want, you know, a warehouse, that's, you know, that's got a good physical environment, and they're not all that way. They want it clean, they want it well-lighted, they want their temperature controlled. So, that's important. And they also want a good mental environment, one they can learn, one they can engage with the other workers, as you mentioned, through things like gamification. They're also looking for, you know, it's interesting on the topic of robotics, when we asked workers about, you know, how would you feel about robots working side by side with you? And, you know, I think many folks think, you know, people think robots are gonna take their jobs, but surprisingly enough, especially the younger workforce, they embrace robots. They want robots to do the, you know, the menial tasks, the tasks that they don't want to do, and they want to spend their time doing more productive tasks that use their their brains.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 09:40
Makes a lot of sense. I appreciate the fact that you've come on to share some of this research with us. I think that it's obviously something we have to prepare to be able to handle the workforce of the future, especially when there are going to be fewer workers available out there for us.
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 09:56
Yeah, I think, Dave, I think we're very interested in this topic. Customers are. I think this is the competitive battlefront. It's not just automation, it's how do you, how do you attract and retain, you know, the workforce of the future?
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 10:11
We've been talking with Ken Ramoutar. He's the chief marketing officer for Lucas Systems. Thanks again, Ken, for being with us today.
Ken Ramoutar, Chief Marketing Officer, Lucas Systems 10:18
Yeah, glad to be here. Thank you, Dave.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 10:21
Now let's take a look at some of the other supply chain news from the week. And, Ben, you wrote this week about the growing importance of third-party logistics providers, and how many companies are turning to 3PLs to meet the challenges they face in their supply chains. Can you tell us more?
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 10:37
Glad to Dave. Yeah, of course, third-party logistics providers have been around for years. We did see them come into particularly important use, though. Of course, all companies have had to deal with global supply chain shocks and ongoing economic uncertainty now, and so, we saw a report this week from Armstrong and Associates, which is a consulting firm, that found that many shippers have been managing those tough challenges by forging tighter relationships with their 3PLs. Companies have been using them to deal with things like pivoting manufacturing to a new location, or navigating the port congestion that we saw so much of in the past year, and of course, meeting the surging demand in this post-Covid recovery. And that means that business has been good for 3PLs. The global third-party logistics market in 2022 grew its revenues by almost 15% over 2021, and that's a level that's almost double where they were in 2016. So, you know, things have been going well for them. They've been playing such an important role. But the Armstrong and Associates report also found some fundamental shifts in that sector. For example, one factor: they've been seeing a significant increase in the use of 3PLs by mid-sized and small retailers and shippers, not just those big-enterprise corporation guys. An interesting side effect, to me, of that, is that 3PLs today, the report said they provide an average of two and a half, about, services per each customer relationship, and those services might be things like transportation management, warehouse management, or a big range of dozens of different value-added services. So, that two-and-a-half number is actually down from 2008, when it was almost three services per customer. And that's largely, according to Armstrong and Associates, because that new crowd of smaller clients tend to have less-complex supply chain service needs.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 12:49
That's very interesting. Ben, did the report say how 3PL's are adapting to that change in customer demand?
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 12:57
It did, and that's a good point, because when the market changes, then the 3PLs have to change as well. So, this is interesting to me, because it found that 3PLs' customers might be getting smaller, but a lot of the 3PLs themselves are getting much bigger. So, Armstrong and Associates described what they call the continuing expansion of the major 3PLs. A lot of them have been acquiring other firms in order to grow new capabilities — those value-added services that we mentioned before. They found that there are some 18 3PLs that have built a network of scale that's required to offer a single-source solution — so, just within the one 3PL company — to large, multinational clients, and they said that those big 3PLs are expected to become increasingly dominant over the next few years, because of that leverage they can bring. One reason they're doing that, the 3PLs, is because of a third trend that the report mentioned: Large, multinational corporations — we're talking about big, Fortune 500 companies, like that — are now trying to reduce the number of different 3PLs that they work with. I hadn't really focused on this, but that's because some of those world's largest companies can have relationships with dozens of 3PLs. Some examples here: the report said that, for example, Walmart — of course, they're enormous — but they're linked with 69 separate 3PLs to handle all the different facets of their business. Then you'll also look at other, you know, large global corporations: Volkswagen, 66 different 3PLs; Nestlé, 65. So, you know, those are three totally different sectors, general retail, automotive, and food, but the list goes on and on like that. And apparently, in the future, we're going to see some of those big clients start to try to simplify, I guess, their business processes and whittle down to a smaller number of larger 3PLs
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 15:02
It just shows the impact that 3PLs are making in our supply chains. Thanks, Ben.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 15:08
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 15:10
And Victoria, we were all at ProMat last week, and while you were there, you saw some interesting new technologies to help with the ever-difficult task of unloading trailers. Can you describe what you discovered?
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 15:22
Absolutely, yeah, that's right. As you say, our entire staff was at the ProMat show in Chicago last week — It's an event that showcases the latest in material handling and logistics technology — and there were so many cool automation and robotic solutions on display. It felt to me like an automation show in many ways. One thing that caught my attention was the robotic truck unloading. A few companies were running demos of this application, and it's something relatively new to the market, commercially, anyway; it's been in research and development for some time. And essentially, this process automates a very tough job: the manual unloading of boxes from truck trailers or shipping containers. And this is one of the least desirable jobs in the warehouse, I'm told it's physically demanding; it requires workers to get inside the container, which is open to the elements — these are not climate controlled, or anything — and they need to repeatedly lift and move heavy boxes out of the trailer and into the warehouse. Just imagine doing that in places with really extreme temperatures. Those trailers can get very hot or very cold, as you can imagine, depending on where they are. So, robotics companies, as I said, have been working on automating this for a long time, and the solution is now available, really to anyone who runs a warehouse. A few companies, as I said, were demonstrating it and at least one launched the commercial availability of their solution during ProMat.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 16:43
Yeah, I agree, those demos, were really getting a lot of attention at ProMat. What else can you tell us about them?
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 16:48
Yeah, so Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pickle Robot is the company that used ProMat as its official launch. They were hard to miss, because this particular truck-unloading robot is bright green, and at the show, they had painted a shipping container bright green to match. They ran demos on the hour that showed the robot unloading boxes from that container. Essentially, the robotic arm grasps boxes that are stacked floor-to-ceiling. It can handle boxes up to 60 pounds from the highest levels of the container, and it can move boxes of 100 pounds or more that are lower on the floor. The robot then places the boxes on a flexible conveyor that carries the items into the warehouse. There were other companies demonstrating similar technologies. Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics was running demonstrations of its truck-unloading robot called Stretch, and Japanese robotics firm Mujin was demonstrating its TruckBot solution. In addition to all this, I've done some research into this topic for an upcoming feature story in DC Velocity, so readers can learn more about truck — robotic truck unloading and the impact that it could have on the industry in our May issue, so coming up later this spring.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 18:01
We look forward to reading it. Thanks, Victoria.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 18:04
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 18:05
We encourage listeners to go to DC Velocity.com for more on these and other supply chain stories. Check out our podcast Notes section for some direct links on the topics that we discussed today.
And our thanks to Ken Ramoutar of Lucas Systems for being our guest. We welcome your comments on this topic and our other stories. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also encourage you to subscribe to Logistics Matters at your favorite podcast platform. Our new episodes are uploaded each Friday.
Speaking of subscribing, check out our sister podcast series Supply Chain in the Fast Lane, coproduced by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Supply Chain !uarterly. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
And a reminder that Logistics Matters is sponsored by Yale. Unlock the full potential of your warehouse with next-generation lift truck solutions. Visit them online at Yale.com.
We'll be back again next week with another edition of Logistics Matters. Be sure to join us. Until then, have a great week.
Go to main Logistics Matters archives page | 2022 archives | 2021 archives | 2020 archives
Copyright ©2023. All Rights ReservedDesign, CMS, Hosting & Web Development :: ePublishing