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Strategies for 'Intelligent' Supply-Chain Execution

Fab Brasca, vice president of global logistics with JDA Software Group, demonstrates how companies can get the best out of their warehouse and transportation systems. He also discusses the concept of "intelligent' transportation planning.

The big trend in retailing today is multichannel fulfillment, says Brasca. It's not just about fulfilling the requirements of individual consumers. There's a pressing need to enable service across all channels - and to do it profitably.

Historically, there has been a separation within companies of the planning and execution functions. "We're trying to blend those worlds and really make them one," says Brasca. The increasing volatility of consumer markets makes it essential to synchronize those activities.

A multichannel operation must be able to meet many types of order profiles. A transportation-management system should have the capability to support shipments from the store, customer pickups and any number of other options. What's more, it all has to take place with full visibility of warehouse constraints. The goal, says Brasca, is to avoid creating "roadblocks to execution."

Without the integration of various execution systems, a distribution operation might optimize one function, only to sub-optimize another. What works best in the transportation sector, for example, might not be advantageous from a warehousing perspective.

JDA's approach is to start with transportation, which is network-oriented, then drive down to warehousing, which is tied to specific locations. Again, says Brasca, visibility across functions is the key. "If I'm going to build the ideal pallet load, I need to do that with visibility of how my warehouses are laid out," he says, stressing the need to expose the "granularity" of an operation.

"A warehouse management system must oversee and manage a lot of different order streams," Brasca says. "We need to be as holistic as possible in fulfilling that demand."

The transportation function is more than a question of routing. Brasca speaks of the need for "intelligent" transportation planning, focusing on the optimization of space and a three-dimensional view of capacity.

To view the video in its entirety, click here

Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, inventory management, transportation management, WMS, TMS, warehouse management systems, transportation management systems, supply chain planning, global logistics, logistics management, Fab Brasca, vice president of global logistics

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