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advanced warehouse management

Advanced Warehouse Management: Machine Learning, Analytics, and AI Come to WMS

Take a moment to think about advanced warehouse management. Would you define it as knowing your current inventory cycle times, worker to order ratios, or the use of technology? The chances are good that each of those characteristics is part of advanced warehouse management. However, actual advanced warehouse management means using the latest technologies available to optimize efficiency, maximize your operation’s productivity, and deliver the best customer experiences possible. Machine learning, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) form the triad of advancement needed to tap into this value. Supply chain leaders need to understand the limitations of current warehouse management, why new technology is valuable, and how to deploy these technologies successfully.

Traditional Warehouse Management
Was Designed for Pallets and Cases

Simple movements of pallets and cases characterized traditional warehouse management. Even the largest of orders could be broken down into pallets and cases, sent to different brick-and-mortar stores and fulfillment centers. Unfortunately, the modern warehouse must be capable of handling the traditionally larger orders, as well as small packages. Failure to succeed in e-commerce will result in customer frustration, not to mention untold losses in terms of production. As explained by Raef Lawson via EBN, the growing diversity of products, also known as SKU proliferation, forms another challenge in using traditional methods to manage the modern warehouse. For example, the company that makes Absolut Vodka increased the number of core flavors from 11 to 18, and at the same time, the company increased the number of limited-edition flavors from two to 12. Failure to maintain proper demand forecasts while also leveraging real-time information could result in extremely high inventory carrying costs.

Advanced Technologies Increase Visibility and Enable Data-Driven
Decision-Making

Advanced technologies effectively increase the level of visibility within an organization. They also enable data-driven decision-making, such as purchasing decisions for a given warehouse, brick-and-mortar store, or fulfillment center, through the evaluation of dozens of scenarios and contributing factors, reports Henry Canitz of Supply Chain 24/7. The exact number depends on the location and trends associated with the customers that the location serves. Thinking of the Absolut Vodka example, it would be impractical for a brick-and-mortar store to stock five or six bottles of each flavor, which would amount to nearly 150 bottles of liquor. However, if each fulfillment center and brick-and-mortar location could isolate the exact number of bottles that will likely be sold over a given time, the issue of ordering too many will decline. Machine learning can take the information gathered from connected platforms, such as consumer loyalty programs and e-commerce portals, which has already been analyzed with advanced analytics, to understand consumer trends. Machine learning effectively makes ongoing predictions of what will happen and what is necessary to ensure a disruption-free, positive customer experience. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence can step in to automate these processes, ranging from reordering to label printing. The opportunities are endless.

How to Put Machine Learning, Analytics, and AI to Use Within Your WMS

Applying advanced warehouse management principles can be complicated. However, it shares a common factor. Regardless of the level of technology used, all systems must be capable of sharing data and building on one another. Yes, integration is the key, and a critical step to successfully move into an advanced warehouse management state. As machine learning, analytics, and AI become more ingrained in today’s available WMS platforms, their value will become synonymous with effective supply chain management. Of course, other steps to take today include recommissioning facility assets to track data, using sensors to monitor cycle times, dock management, labor activities, and even cybersecurity threats. The end goal is simple; connect everything to apply all new technologies as they become available.

Put New Advanced
Warehouse Management Technologies to Work in Your Organization Now

Technologies continue to advance, and supply chain leaders
that understand the value of machine learning, analytics, and AI will reap
significant benefits. The blending of technology will empower leaders with more
data than they dreamed possible, and the ongoing development of smart systems
will enable automation. Automation is the best solution for any process that
can be classified as repetitive, strenuous, and complex. Obviously, there will
always be parts of the supply chain that rely on human actions, but the harmony
created through these three technologies will enable truly advanced warehouse management.
Find out more about how your organization can take advantage of advanced warehouse management
by contacting Veridian online
today.

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