Upgrading Warehouse Management Systems
Warehouses and distribution centers face tremendous pressure to adapt their operations to meet changing customer and market demands. To meet the demands, DCs are investing in new technologies and simultaneously developing renewal strategies for their current legacy technology systems and infrastructure, especially their legacy warehouse management systems (WMS).
DCs using legacy WMS systems have more options than ever when thinking about their future needs. In addition to scores of capable on-premises and cloud-based WMS packages, DCs can turn to best-of-breed work execution solutions that complement the core capabilities provided in existing WMS packages. In many cases warehouses can avoid the time, risk and expense of a WMS upgrade or replacement by extending the life of their current systems with work execution software.
In addition to time and cost savings compared to a new WMS, work execution solutions deliver dramatic gains in productivity, better order and inventory accuracy, and improved management visibility and control.
5 Areas Work Execution Systems Extend and Enhance a WMS
As a newer product category, it’s worth explaining the core capabilities of work execution software. First, a work execution system can rely on the inventory and order management capabilities of a WMS, host or ERP without change.
Using order and inventory information from other systems, work execution software improves warehouse and DC operations in five areas:
1. Flexible work creation and execution in outbound processes:
a. Break free from strict wave-based picking.
b. Create variable pick processes for different order types and/or profiles.
c. Dynamically prioritize and optimize work assignments (batches, for example).
2. Process optimization and reengineering of inbound and outbound processes, including:
3. Workflow Improvement for hands-on-tasks:
a. Efficient, consistent system-directed processes (replace paper)
b. Seamless use of multiple modes of user interaction (i.e., multimodal mobile applications), including:
i. Voice direction and speech recognition for hands free picking.
ii. Opportunistic barcode scanning where needed (including product tracking to meet regulatory requirements).
iii. Delivery of display information in wearable technology (smart watches, smart glasses, etc.).
c. Real-time feedback, coaching and gamification.
4. Real-Time orchestration of manual work with automation systems, including autonomous mobile robots (AMRS):
a. Coordination of human work activities with automation systems and robots.
b. Scheduling and travel optimization for AMRs.
5. Enhanced management visibility and control:
a. View and manage work in process.
b. Give managers and associates immediate productivity and
c. Enable real-time exception alerts.
d. Rich data capture for AI-based predictive analytics.
While the full feature set of a work execution solution may overlap with some WMS capabilities, the modular nature of work execution systems allows DCs to install only the specific functionality they need.