Digitalization of Logistics Work: Ergonomic Improvements Versus Work Intensification

As noted by Larger et al., in this paper, digital technologies are more and more finding their way into logistics. On the one hand, they are associated with positive effects on the ergonomics of logistics work by replacing repetitive, stressful and ergonomically disadvantageous tasks. But, on the other hand, studies indicate that the intensification of work is increasing. According to this discrepancy, this article investigates how digital technologies, ergonomic improvements and work intensification are related. The authors present qualitative-explorative results from different logistics departments and warehouses using digital technologies in order picking. Their aim is to analyze whether opportunities to substitute ergonomically disadvantageous tasks are used to integrate more challenging and attractive activities or whether they give rise to easier tasks. They show that such substitution potentials are almost exclusively used for intensifying work and hence, that possible positive ergonomic effects are eliminated or not at all a crucial aim when digital technologies are implemented in order picking.

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Abigail Gilbert



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