The European-level project “Human in digital Logistics (HuLog)” investigates comparatively how digital technologies shape work and employment conditions in warehouses across four countries in Europe. Warehouses are profoundly affected by rapidly evolving digital technologies along the whole supply chain in logistics. Online purchase of goods, harmonization of systems for tracking parcels, and optimizing warehouse operations reduce the time for handling goods. At the same time, 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. Against this background, HuLog strives for advancing research on the human side of the rapid technological transformations in the world of work as well as informing the public debate on the futures of work.
HuLog aims at producing multidisciplinary, cutting-edge scientific knowledge on work and employment in European logistics. To date, the human impact of digital technologies on work and employment in warehouses remains vaguely 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-centered look at the digitally driven transformation of warehousing and logistics work. For this purpose, the HuLog researchers will do in-depth case studies in warehouses in four logistic hubs in Europe: Western Poland, Berlin-Leipzig-Halle (Germany), Limburg (Belgium) and West Yorkshire (United Kingdom) for drawing comparisons across organizational, locational, and institutional contexts.
Combining a socio-material with an employment relations perspective, HuLog examines how digital technologies are deployed in the organization of warehouse operations, including how they:
- shape warehouse workers’ experience of work
- drive warehousing companies’ employment strategies to maximize workforce flexibility, and how this affects working conditions.
Social impact goals
HuLog involves an extensive network of national and international collaboration partners and stakeholders including employers, employers’ associations, trade unions, and public employment services. In collaboration and dialogue with them, the project will identify guiding principles and policy recommendations for negotiating more human-centred and socially sustainable digital warehousing.
1 November 2022 to 31 October 2025
- Prof. Dr. Patrizia Zanoni, Principal investigator Belgium & leader of Chanse consortium, Universiteit Hasselt, Belgium
- Prof. Charles Umney, Principal investigator UK, University of Leeds, UK
- Prof. Milosz Miszczynski (Principal investigator Poland, Kozminski University, Poland
Project HuLog is supported by Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung Germany (grant no 01UX2212), FWO Belgium, NSO Poland, and UKRI United Kingdom under the CHANSE ERA-NET Co-fund programme, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement no 101004509.