According to Dan Gilmore, editor of Supply Chain Digest, there is not single manner in which to integrate WMS and LMS into your supply chain system.
"Most experts and companies that have implemented WMS and LMS will strongly recommend that you do WMS first," he suggests, "although there is a part of me that could lobby for doing it jointly. The usual answer offered is that you can't develop the best methods and standards until you have your distribution processes down."
Further complicating the argument in his opinion is the fact that WMS implementations are just hard, and there usually aren't enough resources to go around just for WMS, so it is difficult to add more complexity by adding Labor into the mix. Finally, he says, if he was a supply chain/logistics executive, he would want to phase the benefits of both in so that you could more easily show continuous improvement.
Having said all that, he takes a mildly counter position for a second implementation. One of the reasons that WMS implementations are so difficult is that there is never enough training, and a general amount of chaos in the workforce. LMS, if done right, inherently provides training, order and consistency among floor operators.
Therefore, Gilmore thinks implementing best methods (the first part of a full LMS solution) in parallel with the WMS would make a lot of sense. But the challenge is resources and too many balls in the air.
On the other hand, Peter Schnorbach, Sr., Director--Product Management, Manhattan Associates, has another take: his view is that it should be done as a phase 1 and phase 2. "We are all for getting labor in and achieving savings as quickly as possible, but few companies are really positioned to take on both projects at once." In fact, he says, the efforts put into developing the right process and work flow will have a significant bearing on the training and set up of labor management. He believes that a serial process is much more effective than trying to make it all work at once.
"For example when we set up our planning and forecasting workflow templates we need to understand the flow of goods thru the operation. We can't configure this properly without a thorough understanding of what is actually happening. These decisions get made during the implementation of the WMS. To do both in parallel would potentially result in lots of rework and cost the customer a lot in services," he says.
His view is that performing the implementation serially will take a bit longer but will ensure that the employees and management endorse both solutions by ensuring they work well are well understood and go in smoothly. "There is no better way to kill a project than to push too much too fast and risk losing the support of the users and management".
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