Bottlenecks can ruin your day.
Imagine trying to pick up that last minute gift at the mall only to find that there is a long line and only 1 cashier. Or on your way to the beach for vacation when all of a sudden six lanes become one and you’re now calling for a late check-in. While these bottlenecks are frustrating, they can largely be avoided by timing and planning. Your supply chain is the same way. Every operation experiences bottlenecks that effect productivity. However, with the right technology, systems, and proper planning, a more efficient supply chain can be achieved.
One major cause of these bottlenecks is limited visibility. Real time awareness is key in managing the many moving parts within the warehouse. From strategic labor assignments to a growing multitude of SKUs the amount of information within the distribution center has never been more abundant. To leverage this information and meet consumer demands, access to supply chain technology is a necessity.
For years, it has been considered a best practice for DC’s to fill orders based on “waves” or “sets”. While this has proven to be an effective strategy, with more zones and moving pieces, keeping everything in sync is proving to be more challenging. New supply chain technology platforms are answering these challenges.
WMS (Warehouse Management System)
Warehouse management systems control the movement and storage of items within the distribution center. This technology is lending increased visibility into the daily operation of the warehouse.
WCS (Warehouse Control System)
This software application manages the real-time activities inside the distribution center. The WCS is intended to make everything run more efficiently and oversees the material handling systems and automation.
WES (Warehouse Execution System)
Warehouse execution systems are implemented as a supplement to the WMS. They are designed to meet specific objectives set by projects and customers.
Together these three different platforms integrate to allow for a higher level of visibility. Typically, a WMS alone doesn’t feature the necessary interface to tie into the automation system, creating a lack of true real-time awareness. The growth of omni-channel logistics is placing a higher demand on distribution centers. These demands require a solution that combines the WMS’s overall management capability with a WES’s order logic and WCS’s visibility into what is happening across each element of the DC’s floor.
While technology is answering the challenges of these new consumer demands, it is important to understand and recognize which platforms are necessary and what they are designed for. For high velocity products, like those found in the auto parts industry, creating a fast, efficient process can only be done with a high level of visibility. Barrett Distribution Centers, with a focus on technology and supply chain strategy, uses their experience in the automotive sector to design customized fulfillment solutions.