As companies search high and wide for places to boost operating efficiency, they shouldn't overlook a key area of the supply chain: warehouse management. That's the conclusion of a new report from Aberdeen Group, which offers five key steps toward optimizing that function. The report focuses on the adoption of warehouse management system software and peripheral applications. Surveying more than 200 companies, it identifies as the top pressure related to the adoption of WMS technology the need to support a rise in sales without increasing staffing or space.
"The pressure mounting on today's warehouse managers isn't that different than yesterday, but the speed at which change is occurring is increasing and the time to adjust to those changes is shrinking," says Brad Wyland, senior research analyst with Aberdeen. "By automating many of the manual procedures necessary to process and distribute activities throughout the warehouse, today's warehouse managers can focus their labor force on improving operations and managing exceptions, versus spending countless hours managing paper trails."
Aberdeen's customary comparison of "best-in-class" versus "laggards" finds the former deploying a number of techniques that allow for tighter control over warehousing. According to the firm, so-called outperformers are nearly four times as likely to measure and post performance data either daily or in real time, more than twice as likely to process basic warehouse activities without paper, and twice as likely to utilize a WMS for managing warehouse processes. In addition, Aberdeen says, best-in-class companies are relying on key performance measurements to keep product flowing in and out of the warehouse, while maintaining customer-service levels and holding down operating costs. Some of the key metrics being used include percent of lines across all orders that can be filled completely, percent of orders that arrive on time at the customer's site, percent of orders that are picked accurately, and year-over-year trends in warehouse labor costs and customer order turnaround time. The Aberdeen survey was conducted in partnership with Infor, Psion Teklogix and Manhattan Associates.
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