Streamlining Warehouse Functions
Warehousing is just one of many links in the supply chain and it can be a complex part of the entire chain. The warehouse is where all goods are stored...
Warehousing is just one of many links in the supply chain and it can be a complex part of the entire chain. The warehouse is where all goods are stored prior to being transported to their final destination. So it makes sense for companies to streamline the management of this vital link in the chain.
Today’s warehouse is a highly technical space. Increasingly, warehouses are adopting technology to improve picking and sorting, and to reduce overall costs.
Warehouse management systems (WMS) are commonly implemented in response to the changing requirements and demands from other areas of the supply chain and from consumers.
Dominic Regan, senior director of value chain execution at Oracle Western Europe, acknowledges that warehouses are being asked to perform more functions.
“Warehouse management systems must respond quickly to business requirements, from customers’ changing behaviour to conserve operating cash in a constrained credit market, to demands to ship products with the longest remaining shelf life to the best customers,” he explains.
“Warehouses therefore have to handle more items, with greater velocity, in increasingly complex orders,” he continues. “To address these challenges, businesses need robust and scalable solutions that will help them optimize their operations.”
Oracle has its own warehouse management system that has been utilized by companies worldwide.
Supply Chain Digital profiles the system alongside those offered by Manhattan Associates and Infor.
ORACLE WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT (OWM)
Oracle WMS offers rules-based directed putaway and slotting capabilities. These minimize storage fragmentation, enforce hazardous material rules and reduce obsolescence.
- Oracle WMS also recommends optimal storage bins for order fulfillment. The system offers Push and Pull based replenishment to enable warehouses to efficiently pick a high volume of order lines.
- It can identify cross-docking opportunities in the warehouse by matching expected receipts with outbound shipments and manufacturing component requirements.
- The system provides out of the box support for RFID and EPC technology. Oracle WMS also offers the framework in which to automate any warehouse transaction via RFID.
- Slotting optimization is also a key feature of Manhattan Associates’ management system, helping to shorten fulfilment cycles and use warehouse space more effectively.
- The system can coordinate the entire fulfillment cycle inside and outside of the warehouse using distributed order management.
- Its transportation lifecycle management is another feature of the company’s warehouse management system. It manages shipments to and from the warehouse.
- Manhattan Associates’ Supplier Enablement is an online portal that opens up the lines of communication with suppliers, speeding up time to market and reducing errors.
- Infor’s warehouse management capabilities include inventory management, which collates multiple unites of measure, lot control and catch weights to improve inventory accuracy.
- Its cross-docking function allows flow-thru, transhipment and opportunistic process capabilities.
- Infor also has a range of value added services that include deferred manufacturing, preparation of store-ready pallets, light assembly and kitting.
- Voice-directed picking is another key feature of Infor’s system. It offers voice-enabling order selection, replenishments, put-aways and transfers to improve productivity and accuracy.
Martin Fagerström, IS manager for Attends Healthcare AB, said that the company’s investment in Oracle Warehouse Management will pay for itself in less than two years.
Manhattan Associates has recorded similarly impressive results, including inventory reductions of between 5 percent and 20 percent. Labor productivity has been
reported as increasing by 15 percent to 40 percent using the company’s management system.
The results certainly demonstrate that, for larger warehouse operations at least, there are significant benefits to be had from the implementation of warehouse management systems. As warehouse space becomes more complex – and it undeniably will – systems that can streamline and improve the many faceted warehousing and storage sector will be an extremely effective tool.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.