The Role of WMS and MES in Empowering Warehouse Resiliency

Doug Mefford has more than 25 years of experience in the supply chain industry, from inventory control to operational leadership within an omnichannel distribution operation.

Q: What recent trends have emphasized the importance of warehousing resiliency?

A: Fluctuations in demand patterns and methods of purchase require warehouses to adjust and adapt their order fulfillment workflows within their WMS. In many cases a warehouse operation is set up for 1 or 2 flows such as case pick, bulk pallet pick, or each pick. With the change in demand, particularly in retail for consumer goods, there is a need to be flexible and employ new fulfillment strategies.

Having a WMS solution which enables the needed flexibility is key to responding to these changes. From variable allocation strategies to mixed demand consolidation needs, the warehouse management system can be a valuable tool to achieve resilience in the face of these changes.

COVID has accelerated online purchasing by roughly 5 years in just one year. With "buy online pick up in store" increasing significantly, there is a need for mixed order type picking for single customer as well as store replenishment coupled with the ability to consolidate the demand for efficient delivery of mixed demands to the same destination.

Additionally, the changes in delivery timelines to "next day" and in some cases "same day" require a measure of resilience to respond to the impacts on processing. Employing smaller waves or moving towards fully waveless processing has been increasingly popular. These changes require a warehouse management system that is flexible and configurable.

Q: How can manufacturers adjust to the accelerated demands of e-commerce fulfillment?

A: Not all manufacturers will be impacted by these changes in demand as they continue to supply their products through existing wholesale channels. However, the manufacturers that are considering selling direct-to-consumer will encounter many necessary changes to be made.

For instance, inventory will have to be available to supply existing wholesale demand while also supporting each quantity demand for consumer orders. Leveraging a warehouse management solution with an embedded manufacturing execution system (MES) will allow for more flexibility to address the variable channel fulfillment.

Solochain WMS includes an embedded MES and therefore provides the necessary inventory management, track-and-trace capabilities needed in manufacturing, and provides the flexibility required to execute the fulfillment of both wholesale and consumer orders.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Since 1990, we have successfully addressed the challenges of building complex, multistage supply chains for customers around the world.

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