Your Warehouse - The "Engine Room"
Your Warehouse - The "Engine Room" of the Logistics Operation
If your business was an ocean liner, the MD would be the Captain, the Sales and Admin team the crew, then the Warehouse must be the "engine room" and its staff the engineers.
I know, its a simple and light hearted analogy, and not everyone will agree. However if you follow it through maybe there is something in it:
If the engine of the ship isn't running efficiently, sure you'll get where you're going, it just takes longer, with more stops and more people shovelling coal. And of course it will all cost more money, which you may be able to pass on to the passengers, but probably not if you have a rival who runs a more efficient ship.
Compare this to your warehouse operation and perhaps it starts to make some sense: It takes you longer to get the customers orders out, with more warehouse staff, at a higher cost than your rivals. Not a recipe for long term success you might say. In todays ever more competitive marketplaces, leaner warehouse operations are required to deliver shorter lead times with the same or less staff with the accuracy needed to ensure customer satisfaction.
Every company's warehouse represents the "engine room" for nearly every type of business (Distribution, ECommerce, Wholesale, Food, Pharmaceuticals, etc.), be it large or small. The warehouse deals with everything from components, raw materials, to manufactured items and finished goods. The complete product cycle from Goods In to Pick & Ship.
If the warehouse is the engine room of the business then a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is one of the critical elements that will keep it tuned up, well oiled and running smoothly.
So what are the drivers for businesses to take up a WMS Solutions? The two biggest drivers are common across the board: Economics & Efficiency.
With regard to Economics, with the economy on the rise and swelling orders books, hopefully this isn't as difficult an issue as in years past. There are also smart finance options available which can spread the cost - a "pay as you go" model towards system ownership.
As far as the Efficiency question goes, I quote Phil Obal, President at IDII to help illustrate the position:
“You can only wait so long before you need to spend money on improvements.”
It has been reported that the driving force in WMS investment in the past few years are SME businesses. Many SME's are finding themselves in that great position of business growth but facing the situation where systems and staff are struggling to keep up. This can result is mis-shipped orders, late deliveries and ultimately, lost customers. This is where a demand for warehouse efficiency will be absolutely critical to modern business models.
What this means is that modern WMS systems will need to be more comprehensive and smarter, from managing labour to integrating with Transportation Management and Carriers Software in order to streamline the whole logistics experience.
Perhaps 2015 is the year for you to invest in a WMS solution.