In our first blog 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 fulfill them. The technology at the heart of most packaged warehouse management systems, utilizing traditional wave fulfillment, 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 maximizes throughput and optimizes the use of warehouse assets. But what does that look like?
The right solution monitors orders, labor, equipment, inventory and work on a single system. It allows resource availability to drive optimal fulfillment. 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: Optimizing utilization and allowing work to be assigned dynamically.
The right WMS technology maximizes warehouse resources by assigning work the moment an asset is available. Through optimization 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 fulfillment. An asset’s availability is what determines when work is allocated. As a result, efficiency increases, throughput improves and utilization is maximized. But it takes a new kind of solution to make it possible.
Fulfillment 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 utilizes Order Streaming enables a level of agility and flexibility that traditional technology can’t offer.
Order Streaming includes built-in intelligence to reprioritize 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.
The ideal WMS is one designed with the intelligence to specifically meet today’s omnichannel fulfillment challenges. First, it needs to enable agile fulfillment processes by continuously monitoring assets and assigning work as they become available. Second, it needs to have flexibility to shuffle orders and shift resources to meet ever-changing needs and priorities. Give your distribution centers those advantages, and you set your entire organization up for success.
In our next blog, we’ll expand on the benefits of waveless fulfillment and specific uses for it.