Performance metrics for warehouses and distribution centers have steadily improved since 2003, when the Warehousing Education and Research Council first conducted its annual "DC Measures" study, says Joe Tillman, senior researcher at Supply Chain Visions and co-author of the study. Moreover, the gap has significantly narrowed between best-in-class companies and those lower on the performance scale, he says.
The worldwide market for warehouse management systems grew by more than 10 percent in 2011. Growth was broad-based, occurring in both emerging markets and mature market segments. The high growth in the mature market segments implies that the post-recession market rebound is still active. "Going forward, we expect longer-term user adoption and technology trends to drive growth within the WMS market, as the effects from pent-up demand from the preceding global economic recession diminish. Emerging markets, add-on functionality, and numerous end-user industries are expected to lead the charge," says Clint Reiser, enterprise software analyst and the principal author of ARC's "Warehouse Management Systems Worldwide Outlook."
Because the DC is an expensive - but indispensable item - the CEO needs to be on top of operations that fulfill directly to customers' homes, says Matt Kulp, director, distribution and fulfillment, St. Onge Company, an engineering services company.
The evolution of voice technology now includes an integration of graphical data visually displayed, says John Reichert, TECSYS marketing director. The combination is quicker and more beneficial than one might think.
Mergers and acquisitions are common in the business world, but each move brings its own set of challenges. As a company buys key competitors or suppliers, it is often left with the task of consolidating very different warehouse management systems.
Technology and infrastructure investments will account for 50 percent of Pier 1 Imports' $70m to $75m in planned capital expenditures this year, but the retailer will have a lot of IT-enabled activity to show for its money. Two of the biggest elements are the July 28 launch of Pier 1's new e-commerce site and the planned rollout of its new POS system beginning this fall.
Small-item fulfillment continues to grow, especially with e-commerce orders, but a lot of traditional sortation technology was never designed to handle smaller and lighter pieces, says John Park, product manager, Accu-Sort Systems.
Costly coding requirements have limited adoption of voice technology, but that is changing, says Steve Gerrard, vice president, marketing and strategy, Voxware. The technology is truly adaptive now, which is a key buying criterion.