How Cloud Enables and Supports the Lean Warehouse, from IMPO.
For many manufacturers and distributors, a seamless supply chain of highly efficient and tightly integrated business processes sharing a single unified source of accurate real-time data seems an unachievable goal. That’s not surprising since such organizations are struggling to gain control over their entire supply chain using a mix of disparate systems that fail to fully mesh with one another creating silos of outdated and unreliable information. Instead of enabling manufacturers and distributors, a mixture of poorly connected systems actually work against organizations to create bottlenecks in the free flow of information resulting in order delays, picking and packaging errors, and dissatisfied customers and partners.
The Inefficient Warehouse
One key area of operations that is frequently an obstacle to an efficient supply chain is warehouse management. At one end of the spectrum, a smaller company may not yet have fully thought through or automated the business processes within its warehouse or warehouses to capture all the information concerning the receipt, storage, handling, picking and packing, and order fulfilment and shipment of products and materials to distribution centers or end customers. Such a manufacturer or distributor may be using Excel spreadsheets or some limited homegrown database to manually enter data introducing the potential for errors and data duplication.
A larger manufacturer or distributor may already have a standalone warehouse management system (WMS) but it may lack flexibility and scalability to grow as the company expands or changes its business. That WMS may also not be well integrated with the organization’s other business management solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). On the ERP side of the house, it’s vital for finance staff to have complete real-time visibility into inventory management since products sitting at a shipping dock negatively impact the corporate balance sheet. On the CRM side of house, sales and service personnel who are directly interfacing with customers or wholesale and distribution partners also need full real-time insight into the status of outstanding orders and available inventory so they can communicate that information.