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Too many organizations under-utilize their warehouse management systems or do not make sound upgrade and replacement decisions, according to a recent Supply Chain Consortium benchmarking and best practices survey of 100 top retail and related companies.
The survey also finds that WMS solutions vary in cost and complexity, but there are three basic sources: (1) best-of-breed software vendors, which offer stand-alone WMS products or extended supply chain execution software suites; (2) enterprise resource planning vendors, which offer integrated warehouse management modules; and (3) custom solutions developed by the end-user organization or a third-party contractor.
"Although companies are implementing these solutions to enhance operations, too many do not take their investment to the next level by continually evaluating how well they employ their WMS and seeking improvement opportunities," says Tom Singer, Tompkins Associates principal and author of the WMS survey report.
A few key findings from the WMS benchmarking and best practices survey include:
• Forty-five percent of the reported WMS solutions are internally or custom developed.
• Customization still plays a major role in many implementations.
• Twelve percent of respondents use a third-party hosting service to access their WMS solutions.
• Only 38 percent report using task interleaving functionality within their warehouse systems.
• Only 60 percent of the respondents report that they perform a post-implementation audit of their supply chain technology investments.
• Less than half of the respondents use their systems to schedule appointments for their receiving docks.
• Eighty-eight percent of the respondents indicate that their WMS is integrated to a customer or store order management system.
Although the survey finds that the vast majority of respondents use their WMS solutions to support receiving, putaway, picking and shipping, other functions such as cycle counting, packing, slot management, labor management, dock management and yard management, are under-utilized.
According to the survey, radio frequency picking using mobile hand-held or vehicle mount terminals remains the most popular picking technology. But surprisingly, respondents report low usage of RF pick carts and voice picking.
With more than 100 participating retail and retail supplier companies, the Supply Chain Consortium sponsors a comprehensive repository of 9000-plus benchmarks complemented by search capabilities, online analysis tools, topic forums and peer networking for supply chain executives and practitioners. The consortium is led by the needs of its membership and an advisory board that includes supply chain executives from Campbell Soup, Hallmark, J.C. Penney, Polo Ralph Lauren, Rite Aid, Target, The Coca-Cola Co., Whirlpool and others.
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