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Unified Distribution Control: The next generation of warehouse management

By Eric Lamphier,
Unified Distribution Control: The next generation of warehouse management

Every day, every single supervisor and employee who works in a distribution centre arrives carrying a smartphone. Like the rest of us, they use it as a communications device, camera, computer, GPS, entertainment system and more – all in one. The best warehouse management systems (WMS) are applying the same principles to people working in the warehouse as they function outside of it. It’s an approach that can enable supervisors to be more mobile, more proactive and more effective in every aspect of their job. It’s called Unified Distribution Control (UDC).

One interface on all devices

UDC is a responsive and intuitive user interface that utilises modern touchscreen technologies and data visualisation techniques to help supervisors see, diagnose and act upon all warehouse processes, from any location. Unlike most solutions today, UDC has the same interface on both desktop and mobile devices. That means that no IT integration is necessary, there is no differing functionality and no learning curve for supervisors.  

Similar to smartphones, UDC is designed to offer a consumer-oriented user experience with a graphical, intuitive interface and rich data visualisation through modern screens full of easy-to-read-indicators, alerts and tips. Not only is it easier to see critical information, it’s easier to act upon it.

Unprecedented control of workflows

UDC is the first technology that combines everything – warehouse management system (WMS) intelligence, labour management information and information linked to automation through the warehouse execution system (WES). Responsive screens are arranged to allow managers to progressively drill deeper into information in specific work categories.

Going beyond data visualisation, UDC is true a control centre. Managers can’t just see information, they are empowered to take action. Advanced analytics give supervisors a wide perspective of warehouse performance with actionable insights so that they can respond to trends or issues in real time.

UDC allows them to release tasks, hold tasks, shift priorities and divert work to other resources. They can check which automation is online or offline. If a bottleneck or delay is developing, managers can activate additional warehouse assets to compensate. In short, UDC empowers supervisors to take the right action at the right time – from any device. A single piece of technology can turn the entire DC into a more responsive, more efficient, more effective operation.

Opportunity for employee engagement

UDC also provides supervisors with a range of new opportunities to engage with employees. Armed with real-time performance information – along with a dynamic mapping feature to locate individual workers – they can immediately offer coaching or praise. So there’s no more reviewing data after the fact. No more looking back in hindsight. Now managers can take action in the moment.

The best operations are unified

Unified means WMS and WES. It means warehouse management and labour management. Man and machine. Operations and IT. Desktop and mobile. Unified means everything in one. UDC is a first-of-its kind technology that enables a new kind of supervisor management with a consumer-oriented, intuitive, user interface and rich, graphical screens. More than a dashboard, it’s a cockpit where supervisors can see real-time information and proactively take appropriate action.

Manhattan Associates has the only WMS that features UDC. In these ultra-competitive times, it’s technology that gives companies new advantages and greater opportunity to succeed.

In the next article, we’ll explore the mindset of the modern worker and new ways to better engage with them.

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