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Warehouse Tech-Build the Supply Chain of Your Dreams Part 3 of 3

We’re still dreaming….remember you have an unlimited budget and an amazing IT department…

So far in talking about building the supply chain of our dreams we touched on what robots and hardware could do to enhance the workplace, now let’s focus on Software.

Aside from the physical logistics of handling materials and managing workers and product, the possibilities are endless in the form of software available to companies to improve every aspect of the business from trucking to order fulfillment and inventory management. Around the time of the advent of the smart phone and all of the applications that were developed at lightning speed as a result, the phrase “there’s an app for that” was somewhat of joke. Now, however, there truly is an app for everything.  Boulder, CO based company 10-4 Systems, Inc. has developed a network that alerts companies like Pepsi of regional backhaul opportunities that match its drivers’ locations. Drivers deliver goods to their destinations, and rather than traveling back to a DC with an empty load, they can pick up a load on the way back, thereby creating revenue that previously didn’t exist. Other companies like Cargomatic and Roadie, Inc. are providing similar services at the click of a mouse. Other software developers are providing better warehouse management systems by implementing mobile technology like bar code scanners, handheld computers and voice systems to conduct cycle counting. According to a study by Motorola, 41% of warehouses still use manual cycle counting to track inventory, a practice that can be slow and inaccurate. Mobile electronic cycle counting allows inventory to be updated in real time, and problems can be identified and handled more quickly when numbers don’t match up. Finally, there’s The Cloud. That enigmatic entity that seems to be suddenly hovering over every aspect of our personal data lives, but now our work related data, too. As mysterious as it may be, it’s certainly out there, and ready to save companies some serious money, no matter how flighty it may sound. Businesses have already been using Cloud technology for human resource systems and customer relationship management systems, but now more than ever so with geographically expanding companies that need to have real time data sharing all over the world. Being able to collaborate and share information increases efficiency and saves money. Additionally, overhead costs become merely operational costs as there is no capital investment required to implement cloud services. The efficiency factor goes even farther since Cloud services are maintained and updated by the software vendors themselves. IT staff are freed up to focus on more “high valued activities” provides Craig Downing, Senior Director of Global Cloud Marketing at Epicor. This could potentially end the much satirized reputation of the irritable, easily annoyed IT person. Certainly, a happier, fluffier IT department awaits in the Cloud.

So, what have you decided you’ll do with your unlimited budget and your willing, energetic IT department? Where does your real- life warehouse measure up to your dream warehouse? What potential success does technology offer your business model? Robot employees and workers decked out in futuristic scanning wearables and information coming down out of a cloud might seem a little too Sci-Fi for reality, but the reality is, all of that is here and now.

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