"Doing more with less" is standard operating procedure in most warehouses these days, as companies are being challenged to support increasing volumes of products (often due to channel consolidation) without adding staff or expanding available space. In a recent study of supply chain and operations managers undertaken by analyst firm Aberdeen Group, 90% indicated that they plan to improve their warehouse operations in the next 12 to 24 months.
"Coupling solid order pick accuracy with lower labor costs and the ability to move more orders through the warehouse in less time separates best-in-class [companies] from the rest of the pack," note Aberdeen analysts Brad Wyland and Scott Pezza. While adopting a warehouse management system (WMS) is a solid step in the right direction, best-in-class companies don't stop there. Instead, they focus on continuously improving their warehouse operations by utilizing automation techniques that allow them to stay current with changing business conditions. Other tactical technology solutions include labor management, slotting, yard management and task management software.
The accompanying PACE (pressures, actions, capabilities and enablers) chart illustrates how manufacturers can progress from identifying a problem to focusing on a solution, and as a result become best-in-class themselves.
- The need to support increased sales without increasing staffing or space requirements
- Implement more efficient warehouse processes
- Create a more agile, flexible warehouse to keep up with rapid changes
- Make greater use of warehouse automation
- Confirm transactions and communicate with automatic data capture in real time
- Central direction of processes in the warehouse
- Process warehouse activities without paper
- Practice advanced picking and replenishment processes
- Ability to print customer compliant labels for outbound
- Ability to send advanced ship notices (ASN)
- Warehouse management system (WMS)
- Labor management system
- Slotting software
- Yard management software
- Task management software
Source: Aberdeen Group