Is Your Warehouse Software Holding You Back?

(2015-07-29 14:20:30)

Change is underway in warehouse management and fulfillment operations. Driven by e-commerce and omni-channel demand, and enabled by innovative automation and software solutions, the fulfillment execution model is ushering in an era of real-time adaptive workflow for optimized fulfillment.

When warehouse management systems (WMS) replaced paper-based systems in the mid-1980s, they marked a fundamental shift in workflow. Today, these traditional solutions remain focused on the cycle of planning, executing, monitoring, and adjusting as a sequence of discrete events, sometimes limiting their ability to optimize in real time.

THE AUTOMATION EQUATION

Qualified workers are costly and increasingly scarce. Even with readily available labor, manual operations have limits. Order profiles have shifted to more frequent, smaller quantities, and customers expect faster deliveries, increased order accuracy, and better quality, which require automation. The challenge in today's fulfillment operations is to solve this equation: labor amount + automation + real-time execution software = the highest ROI?

WAREHOUSE SOFTWARE: THEN AND NOW

Warehouse systems were once the back-end of an inventory, purchasing, or outbound order management system operating on a mainframe computer. This included keeping records manually, keying in data, generating reports overnight, and batch processing. Product moved faster than information, so batch-generated reports were inaccurate by the time they reached management.

In the 1980s, the mantra of "the right product, at the right location, with the right operator" emerged. Real-time processes enabled the WMS to keep an instant record of a product's physical position and order, and the operator's location in the warehouse. This increased throughput and accuracy by allowing the WMS to direct workers to the most efficient path. However, WMS suppliers measured real time in seconds to minutes.

Little has changed. Traditional solutions cannot provide the real-time microsecond response times required to optimize fulfillment operations. They don't account for the role automation plays.

As such, many WMS solutions rely on warehouse control systems (WCS) to connect with automated equipment, and order fulfillment software to manage labor and processes. Separate WMS, WCS, and order fulfillment software packages face optimization limitations.

The emergence of fulfillment execution systems has the potential to change the game within the four walls and beyond. They are equipped to optimize work order flow, labor, inventory, and automated equipment in a single solution. With real-time execution of fulfillment operations, users can experience the increased throughput, lower operating costs, and higher service levels that are required for today's high-speed picking operations.

Top 3 warehouse management software vendors:

EPICOR

Epicor was founded in 1984 and serves over 20,000 customers in more than 140 countries, providing solutions in over 30 languages. Epicor’s WMS offers a uniquely comprehensive warehousing, supply chain management and supply chain execution solution. Without the interferences of a black box, middleware or interfaces to maintain, Epicor’s WMS provides a powerful solution to address all aspects of an order fulfillment, warehousing and distribution requirements.Based on an industry leading service-oriented architecture (SOA), Epicor SCM is complemented by the gamut of enterprise capabilities, including customer relationship management (CRM), supplier relationship management (SRM) and supply chain execution (SCE).

NETSUITE

NetSuite delivers its retail management solution over the Internet as a subscription service using the software-as-a-service or on-demand model, as well as through relationships with channel partners. NetSuite is the number one integrated, web-based business software. It helps businesses manage their entire company with one complete system. This WMS includes online accounting software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and ecommerce.

SYSPRO

According to Business-Software.com, “SYSPRO’s Advanced Warehouse Management System ensures that material is located correctly, delivered to the shop floor just-in-time, stored and then accurately picked for dispatch to the customer. “With SYSPRO’s WMS solution, transactions are captured at the source, ensuring accuracy of stock information. Operators can pick against a pick list, in conjunction with bar-code scanning, removing the problems typically associated with dispatch errors.”

 

 

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