Three Ways a WCS Can Improve Your Operation
Just as customer expectations have become more diverse and specific over the past few years, retailers are evolving in the way they fulfill those orders. There just doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all solution for distribution in the current landscape.
Big retailers are automating as much of their facilities as possible and are adopting new technologies as they become available. These large operations are pushing out large volumes of products in many different directions, but increasingly, medium- and small-sized operations also need to incorporate some level of automation so they can stay competitive and fulfill both large and individual shipments.
The growth in e-commerce and other specialized customer requirements has prompted many warehouse managers to consider or integrate some type of automation for their operations. Implementing a warehouse control system (WCS) to help coordinate material-handling equipment, processes, and systems is one way to accomplish this.
A modular WCS lets companies of any size automate just the most essential segments of their warehouses or DCs, enabling them to provide impeccable service to their customers without over-investing in a solution that’s more comprehensive than they need. The modules integrate seamlessly with the people and processes already in place, allowing companies to compete with the best – even if they aren’t necessarily the biggest.
Here are three ways that a WCS can help improve your company’s response to its customers’ expectations:
- Improving competitiveness. A WCS enables companies to efficiently process and ship both individual and bulk orders from a single location. One facility can then satisfy both needs, which saves organizations money and space—especially since the software allows for more densely packed inventory. The software evaluates orders and determines the most efficient way to route inventory to the appropriate stations within the facility, based on their sizes and destinations.
The software also reduces the dependency on people to complete the most repetitive and heavy lifting processes in the warehouse/DC by automating the movement of goods, which lessens the impact on operations as the labor force shrinks. It also takes factors such as vacations, sick days, fatigue, and human error out of the equation.
- Sharpening business processes. No one wants to manage a warehouse/DC in the dark. A WCS gives operators real-time, granular insights into their systems that allow them to fine tune all of the different processes as they’re running.
Each WCS module provides insight into the performance of its particular area of usage, such as a zone, storage area, pinch points and schedules, and then turns operational data into useful information that can be applied to affect positive change. It’s an iterative practice. Operators get new information; they improve the process; and the cycle continues on, with each round becoming incrementally more streamlined and efficient than the last.
- Responding to high-volume orders. Some companies are in the business to sell and distribute airplane engines—and some sell pencils. The same type of material solution doesn’t work for everyone, a fact that is becoming all the more pronounced as companies are forced to respond to ever-more varied customer demands.
A WCS lets companies use their materials handling equipment to move products to the appropriate stations, satisfying both small- and high-volume orders shipping to a multitude of locations with the same finesse. Yet because it’s modular, companies can pick and choose just the elements that make sense for their product mixes. Having a system that is malleable and modular allows companies to maximize their situations without completely redesigning their existing systems.
No matter how you look at it, materials handling technology is evolving, and there’s no going back. The number of potential users concerned about integrating software with their existing systems is declining, and that decline marks a growing embrace of technology’s ability to help businesses expand strategically.
As a result of that embrace, companies of any size are able to delight their customers by overnighting a single monogrammed backpack to a family who ordered it online, or by restocking shelves full of the latest spring fashions after a store’s rapid sell-out.
A WCS serves as the bridge that connects the existing warehouse/DC with the new way of doing business, yielding clarity and control over operations in a way that businesses didn’t even realize they needed until the omni-channel marketplace emerged.