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Can your WMS do that? What the modern warehouse needs

By Ruben Braiter ,
Can your WMS do that? What the modern warehouse needs.

In our first article, we covered how omnichannel shopping has meant both B2B companies and B2C consumers are making smaller, more frequent orders, with tighter delivery windows and higher costs to fulfil them. The technology at the heart of most packaged warehouse management systems, utilising traditional wave fulfilment, is about 25 years old. When it was developed, Amazon and e-commerce didn’t exist. Although the wave remains very effective in many situations, it’s not always ideal as the sole model for work. There’s a need for a new kind of WMS technology that maximises throughput and optimises the use of warehouse assets. But what does that look like?

The right solution monitors orders, labour, equipment, inventory and work on a single system. It allows resource availability to drive optimal fulfilment. It’s flexible so work can be fulfilled immediately, and high-priority orders can be allocated to the front of the line. In short, the right solution should have two capabilities: Optimising utilisation and allowing work to be assigned dynamically.

No time like the present

The right WMS technology maximises warehouse resources by assigning work the moment an asset is available. Through optimisation algorithms and machine learning, the software monitors people, equipment and inventory in real time. Instead of using guesswork, the solution knows exactly when work is finished and assigns new tasks immediately. In the industry, this is referred to as order streaming. Where the wave pushes work out, order streaming is a pull model of fulfilment. An asset’s availability is what determines when work is allocated. As a result, efficiency increases, throughput improves and utilisation is maximised. But it takes a new kind of solution to make this possible.

Keeping up with constant change

Fulfilment options like next-day and same-day shipping – coupled with the continuous flow of online orders – mean warehouse priorities must constantly shift. With wave-only technology, it’s extremely difficult to change or add anything once work is released. A truly advanced WMS that utilises order streaming enables a level of agility and flexibility that traditional technology can’t offer.

Order Streaming includes built-in intelligence to reprioritise on the fly. The ability to rearrange tasks, shift resources and put urgent work at the front of the line is critical. In fact, the only way demands can be met profitably is by matching real-time availability of people and equipment with the real-time release of the most urgent work. It’s that simple. Keeping productivity and customer satisfaction high and costs down requires a warehouse that is constantly dynamic.

A new wave of WMS solutions

The ideal WMS is one designed with the intelligence to specifically meet today’s omnichannel fulfilment challenges. First, it needs to enable agile fulfilment processes by continuously monitoring assets and assigning work as they become available. Second, it needs to have the flexibility to shuffle orders and shift resources to meet ever-changing needs and priorities. Give your distribution centres those advantages, and you set your entire organisation up for success.

To start your search for the right WMS solution, visit Distribution Overview.

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