Boosting in-house logistics through gamification

Today’s warehouses face four key challenges: an increase in the quantity and selection of products, a decrease in the average order size, tightening global and local competition, and fewer qualified employees—and to top it off, they are all occurring at the same time. This means that increasing the competitiveness of a warehouse requires constant improvements in both job efficiency and motivation. How can this be achieved?

One of the newest and most interesting suggestions for achieving these goals is to gamify warehouse work. Gamification entails introducing elements of gaming—such as visually marked goal levels, achievements and virtual characters—into the warehouse environment and combining them with rewarding and competitive ways of monitoring progress. Addictive games already take up our free time, so do we really need to bring them to work as well?

If gamification results in increased job efficiency and motivation, then the answer is yes. This is what we at Leanware are currently investigating. Germany has already carried out the first studies on the effects of gamification on in-house logistics, and while the results have been interesting, the last LogiMAT—the largest logistics trade fair in Germany—did not offer any concrete gamification solutions. A year ago, we started developing the idea for a gamification platform, and now we are carrying out the first trial and examining its effectiveness in a real-life environment. ALSO Finland, who uses Leanware’s warehouse management system LeanwareWMS, will be trying out our gamification platform at its logistics center in Pirkkala for the duration of November.

The trial got off to a promising start. At the kick-off event, ALSO’s warehouse workers raised questions about things such as occupational safety measures to prevent workers who use the platform from starting to prioritize speed over quality. The workers also wanted to know whether their progress and achievements would be visible to everyone or only to themselves. The answers were received well: quality will not be compromised, gamification is meant for personal use only, and taking part in the trial is optional. It was also encouraging to hear the workers asking for gamification in operations that were outside the scope of the trial. The demand for more stimulation is clearly there.

ALSO Finland’s participation in the trial was motivated by a desire to try out the newest equipment innovations that could help speed up customer service and increase personnel motivation.

“We’re drawn to all kinds of modern innovations that utilize data to improve customer and employee experiences. Gamifying logistics environments is an interesting idea,” ALSO’s Warehouse Manager Joni Viikki described his interest.

The effects of the trial will be studied in three ways: pre- and post-trial surveys for warehouse workers and warehouse management as well as data on job efficiency before and during the trial. The trial will help us evaluate the platform’s effectiveness and provide us with important experience and feedback that we can use to develop it further.

One thing we already know is that gamification does not motivate everyone: some people get excited about the prospect of rewards, points and levels, while others simply do not care. We should not be too fast to brush off the mechanics of gamification, however, as they are already so present in all of our lives. Maybe you use a fitness tracker that encourages you to walk ten more minutes in order to meet the day’s goal, or perhaps you only shop at certain stores so that you can level up the points on your loyalty card. We often fail to notice the degree to which achievements and rewards control our activity and performance. This could also apply to the warehouse—and we’re about to find out!

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