Gartner recently held its virtual Supply Chain Symposium for 2021.
That included a session on Warehouse Management Systems, or WMS, led by well-known Gartner analyst, Dwight Klappich.
During the session, Klappich detailed what he sees as key trends in WMS technology moving forward. As an intro to those trends, Klappich first noted that Warehouse Management Systems are getting smarter.
In this week’s Logistics Insights podcast, a look at three key trends in warehouse management systems, including the move to the Cloud, the rise of Warehouse Execution Systems and the increasing support for automation, such as for mobile robots and putwall systems.
Labor challenges in US distribution are as high as we have ever seen. Almost everyone is scrambling for labor, and few are able to hire and retain all the DC labor they need.
Facing similar challenges, tool maker Hilti launched a program earlier this year to revolutionize the way it treats DC workers, across more than a dozen facilities in the US.
Here's a fact: if a company is deploying a new WMS solution, unless they are already using Voice or other picking technologies such as pick-to-light or “put walls,” these types of technologies are almost never designed in from the start, even if there is great interest in them for down the road.
But is that really the right approach?
One of the core concepts relative to Warehouse Management Systems is that of “directed putaway.”
While many logistics professionals are very familiar with this topic, it is clear from conversations with many companies that others don’t really have all the details – and that quite a few lack directed putaway capabilities with the system they are currently using to run their distribution center.
As the name suggests, directed putaway is all about the WMS communicating to DC associates through a mobile wireless terminal where in the DC a product should be stored, at the specific location level.
But to understand directed putaway, you also need to add the related concept of zoning or zone management.
A good WMS should allow you to define, practically without limit, different putaway zones for which rules will be applied relative to putaway. A zone is simply a grouping of locations.
In our previous broadcast, we discussed 5 of our top 10 catalysts for adopting a new WMS.
As a quick review, those 5 WMS project drivers were:
- You are Experiencing Rapid Growth
- You are Opening a New DC
- You are Making Significant Logistics Strategy Changes
- You have or are Consolidating Facilities
- You Want to Significantly Increase DC Automation
Now, let’s add 5 more...
In may be a mature market space, but by all counts, the market for new Warehouse Management Systems remains strong.
There are in fact a wide number of potential factors that drive companies to look for a new WMS solution, which we have handily grouped into 10 different logistics scenarios, and in Part 1, we lay out the first five.
You might need a new WMS if...
Dynamic Slotting is a technique available in some Warehouse Management Systems in which a forward pick location is created dynamically, rather than being dedicated to a single SKU.
This capability is needed in two primary situations: The first is when there aren’t enough pick locations to handle all SKUs a DC carries. The second scenario is when demand for SKU in a wave or general order pool far exceeds the storage capacity of the forward pick location for that SKU.
Autonomous mobile robots are coming to a DC near you - likely your facility - and probably soon. A.M.R.’s have taken the distribution world by storm, driven by both operational efficiencies and the challenges with finding enough labor in most US markets.
This podcast dives into the benefits that can be achieved, the challenges, and the keys to making your investments future-proof.