SCB: Right now we're experiencing a labor shortage in the warehouse and throughout much of the industry. Many companies are looking at technologies to help them deal with that shortage. How can one most effectively evaluate the right technologies?
Cavasos: You can't go it alone. It's fast moving. There are a lot of new technologies in the marketplace. Many of them are unproven and have not been around very long. We would recommend finding an integrator partner. They're objective, they don't manufacture or are a source for these technologies, and they work with them every day.
SCB: That goes to the argument that one should be concentrating on one's core competency and outsource to others for the expertise that you don't necessarily have. So, your point is to find an integrator able to point you in the direction of the right technologies to implement?
Cavasos: That's correct, and there's not a one-stop shop. There's not a single technology that's going to do everything that you want it to do in your building. What we're finding is, you're going to ultimately have multiple technologies, and the key is to have those technologies work together to give you the end result that you're looking for. Integrating those technologies is extremely important; so, it's not a one stop shop.
SCB: Walk us through some of the technologies people need to be considering.
Cavasos: There is a variety of technologies out there to consider. Everybody's excited about robots. That technology is not proven, and the application doesn't necessarily fit everybody's needs. We're getting a lot of folks coming to us looking for that shiny new toy or they want to put that in because they read about it in a business journal or they've seen it in other places, not understanding how it's used or if it's applicable to their particular business. So there again, an integrator can help with that assessment and make sure that it's truly a fit for their business.
SCB: When you're looking at some of these technologies, what kind of constraints might they create?
Cavasos: It goes back to a comment I made earlier, about multiple technologies working in unison in a single site. A WES, an execution system, is truly the conductor of that type of activity in a building. So, we've had a lot of success in the WES space with helping to connect those new technologies with prior technology and helping it all to work together.
SCB: We're talking about automating the fundamentals of receiving, storing, replenishing, picking, packing, all of these things. Clearly, this is something where integration is crucial, right?
Cavasos: Absolutely. I mean, the traditional WMS doesn't have that capability. That's not what it was designed to do. So, again, the WES is not a duplication of WMS. It's truly an execution system. Orders would drop into that from a WMS, and then it would decide real time in a dynamic environment where the most important activity in that building is next, and it is assigning tasks to the floor, again in real time, based on the resources available to it.
SCB: So, tell us why we need a WMS.
Cavasos: Well, in today's world with e-comm, same-day delivery, next-day delivery, in by X time, out by X time, a WMS does not provide that functionality. It wasn't designed that way. Execution systems, really, that's their focus: to execute that work more efficiently and in real time to meet those carrier pickup times, the SLA requirements that you may have. So, as those orders flow in throughout the day, it dynamically processes those, and so the highest priority work is always being allocated to the floor at any given time. You can't get that functionality from a WMS.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.