There are countless ways to improve performance and reap higher profitability in your organization. Such measures include investing in a warehouse management system (WMS) and using labor management to improve WMS productivity. Unfortunately, the hype over peak season often overshadows the capabilities available within today’s systems, and some organizations that have recently invested in a new WMS or labor management system (LMS) could be leaving money on the table. The solution is not to invest in a new WMS or completely new systems today. Instead, supply chain leaders should make the most of what they have and understand the challenges inherent in managing WMS productivity.
Challenges in Managing WMS Productivity
The best-laid plans for advancement in the supply chain depend on perfectly executed processes. Unfortunately, things often go wrong, and supply chain leaders that do not take the time to realize this risk will see terrible results. It’s a grim situation, but it is the reality. The challenges in managing productivity include latency in order processing, missed routing of information, miscommunications between systems, failures within the workforce, customer upset, buyer’s remorse, changing expectations, and the ongoing demands of e-commerce.
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Productivity Increases Supply Chain Responsiveness
While faced with challenges in managing productivity as peak season approaches, supply chain leaders must realize that using an integrated WMS will increase supply chain responsiveness. Supply chain responsiveness is defined by supply chains’ ability to secure processes and maintain flexible operations. If an order changes during mid-cycle, the final shipped products should still go out on time and meet the new demands. Increased WMS productivity contributes to supply chain responsiveness. By eliminating latency and boosting performance, supply chain leaders can reap the most from their investments, including integrated, well thought out WMS functions and capabilities. Improvements in productivity will further lead to these results:
- Reduced employee turnover rates.
- Increase collaboration throughout your supply chain network.
- Reduced risk of missed pickups and deliveries.
- Fewer customer returns resulting from mis-picked orders.
- Greater flexibility to handle changing requirements and needs of omnichannel and e-commerce.
How to Increase Productivity Without Steep Investments
With peak season around the corner, supply chain leaders need solutions that can be implemented today. Unfortunately, the timeline for WMS implementation is too great to implement and maximize a system’s value before Thanksgiving. Supply chains that have not already taken steps to invest in a new system will need to work with what they have, and part of the solution lies in maximizing the system efficiency of today, including optimized WMS productivity. Of course, it helps to have a few best practices that augment WMS productivity without increasing investment costs. As explained by Parcel Magazine, supply chain leaders should follow these tips to increase productivity:
- Adjust system settings to optimize performance. System configuration plays a vital role in ensuring systems function correctly.
- Properly train all laborers, including temporary workers, on system use and application. Even while temporary workers may not need advanced training on your systems, they still need to know how to use their specific functions, and depending on the need of your facility, they should be able to maintain self- sufficiency.
- Create and follow standardized processes for all peak season needs. Standardized processes eliminate uncertainty and keep everyone on the same page.
- Reslot the warehouse. Deciding to reslot the warehouse now is a different animal. Supply chain leaders that choose to reslot should focus on fast-moving products and those that will be in more demand as the season progresses.
- Revisit travel time of pickers, including optimization of walking routes. Merely optimizing the travel time for pickers and within the staging area will reduce costs and improve fulfillment.
- Integrate labor management with your WMS or other systems of record. Integration between systems is the most crucial factor in improving WMS productivity through better labor management.
Reap the Rewards of Improved Productivity Now
Improved productivity will increase profitability, lead to higher customer service levels, reduce delays, and allow businesses to meet the changing needs of omnichannel fulfillment. The 2019 peak season is upon the industry, and supply chain leaders need to start working to improve WMS productivity now before it is too late, and companies lose value.