HuLog: Humans in Digital Logistics

HuLog: Humans in Digital Logistics

The Humans in Digital Logistics (HuLog) project investigates how digital technologies shape work and employment conditions in warehouses in Europe. Today, warehouses are profoundly affected by rapidly evolving digital technologies along the whole supply chain, which facilitate the online purchase of goods, harmonise systems for tracking parcels and optimise warehouse operations to reduce the time for handling goods. Warehousing is expected to keep growing and to generate new jobs, as companies increase local inventories to mitigate the risk of global supply chain disruptions caused by international trade conflicts (e.g. Brexit), armed conflicts and calamities such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the impact of digital technologies on work and employment in warehouses remains poorly understood. Most studies of warehousing focus on IT-induced efficiency gains reducing the time and cost of processing goods, yet neglect the experience of workers. HuLog takes a more human-centred look at the digitally-driven transformation of warehousing and logistics work.

HuLog will produce multidisciplinary, cutting-edge scientific knowledge on work and employment in European logistics. It will advance the scientific literature in and across relevant disciplines and inform the public debate on the future of work in the context of rapid technological transformation. Combining a socio-material perspective with that of employment relations, HuLog examines how digital technologies are deployed in the organisation of warehouse operations, including how they:

  1. a) shape warehouse workers’ experience of work;
  2. b) drive warehousing companies’ employment strategies to maximise workforce flexibility, and how this affects working conditions.

Empirically, HuLog investigates 12 digital warehouses in 4 logistic hubs in Europe: Western Poland, Berlin-Leipzig-Halle (Germany), Limburg (Belgium) and West Yorkshire (United Kingdom). This research design allows for comparison across institutional, economic and socio-demographic contexts.

HuLog involves an extensive network of 17 national and international collaboration partners including employers, employers’ associations, trade unions, public employment services, social-profit companies and sectoral associations. In collaboration with them, the project will identify guiding principles for negotiating more human-centred and socially sustainable digital warehousing

CONSORTIUM:

  • Project Leader: Patrizia Zanoni, Hasselt University, School of Social Sciences, Belgium
  • Milosz Miszczynski, Kozminski University, Department of Management, Poland
  • Anke Hassel, Hertie School, Germany
  • Charles Umney, Leeds University Business School, Work and Employment Relations Division, United Kingdom

COOPERATION PARTNERS:

  • Agnieszka Mróz, OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza Amazon przy Amazon Fulfillment Sp. z. o.o.
  • Jeremy Anderson, International Transport Workers’ Federation
  • Oliver Röthig, UNI Europa
  • Noël Slangen, Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij Limburg
  • Filip Cuypers, Livlina
  • Mieke Pareyn, Genk Scania Parts Logistics
  • Carlo Theunissen, Warehousing, H. ESSERS & zonen internationaal transport
  • Tinne Lommelen, VDAB Limburg
  • Johan Bongaerts, Bewel
  • Wiktoria Galecka, PSML
  • Ruben Lemmens, VKW
  • Rose-Mari Moden, The European Workers Council, DHL
  • Janine Marshall, STEM Abassador Hub North East
  • Peter Ward, UK Warehousing Association
  • Karen H Reay, Unite the union

 Start date

1 November 2022

Project duration

36 months

 Project budget

€ 1 480 604

Funding organisations