Are you ready for some mental gymnastics? Read more
In the current challenging economic environment, consumer spending is tight, business investment is restricted, and infrastructure spending – apart from a few over-publicised projects – is also being largely held back. The conditions are in fact perfect for a recession, and anyone in the trade of supplying high-value machinery for businesses could be forgiven for wanting to adopt a ‘batten down the hatches’ approach. Read more
As commerce, in general, has become more competitive and advances in technology continue at breakneck speed, an efficient supply chain is crucial for the survival and success of your business.
With Industry 4.0, the suite of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, sensor technology and data analytics are transforming how businesses operate with their trading partners and consumers. Australian businesses can make their supply chains more efficient by reducing costs and boosting their competitiveness. Many of these technologies are underpinned by GS1 standards, the most widely used supply chain standards in the world.
While most companies are aware that ‘supply chain improvements’ are needed to drive efficiencies across the whole of their business operation, managers and business owners often don’t have enough expertise to start implementing practical steps.
GS1 Australia’s extensive Network of Solution Providers is available to help member businesses implement GS1 standards quickly and accurately, from barcode labelling through to data warehousing.
“GS1 partners have expertise in helping companies improve visibility across their supply chain as implementing traceability and anti-counterfeit measures is a key challenge facing manufacturers and their suppliers.”
One-stop supply chain solutions provider network
Introduced more than ten years ago, GS1 created the Alliance Partner program to connect business members with solution providers that have a thorough knowledge of the GS1 system and to share its vision of delivering tangible supply chain benefits for its members.
Today, around 20,000 business members from more than 20 industry sectors can take advantage of the pool of knowledge and expertise within the Alliance Partner community. All partners in the network are trained in GS1 standards and implementation across a range of industry sectors including retail (apparel, general merchandise and food & beverage), healthcare, freight and logistics, and rail.
The GS1 community offers businesses a complete suite of products and solutions to help them build efficient and effective supply chains, from barcoding of products (printers and labels), software like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messaging for purchase orders and invoices and Enterprise Resource Planning for procurement of goods, through to data warehousing and warehouse management systems (WMS).
Some further benefits that the GS1 Alliance Partner community can bring to a business include:
- Value-added tools and resources to complement and enhance the GS1 system.
- Access to the latest information on supply chain products and services, some of which is global by nature.
- Ongoing support to help businesses continue to innovate and extend their supply chain efficiencies.
Additionally, GS1 partners have expertise in helping companies improve visibility across their supply chain as implementing traceability and anti-counterfeit measures is a key challenge facing manufacturers and their suppliers.
Finding a solution provider
Businesses have many opportunities to connect with the Alliance Partner community and find the right solution provider for their needs. To help businesses readily find GS1 partners, the Solution Providers Directory is available at www.gs1au.org/what-we-do/solution-providers/find-a-solution-provider. Visitors can search for a provider and contact them directly by submitting the short request form. From the directory you can view a description of the solutions offered by each of the Alliance Partners, together with their contact details and a link to the company website.
Business members can also meet face-to-face with many of the Alliance Partners exhibiting at events and training sessions hosted by GS1 Australia across the country. One of the key networking opportunities for businesses to connect with the Alliance Partner community is at GS1’s premier conference, NEXUS, which is held every two years and brings together supply chain leaders from industry, government trade associations and the GS1 business member community. Additionally, the popular one-day Barcode Basics for Your Business is held regularly and is available for GS1 business members and non-members.
With the pace of change in business showing no signs of slowing, connecting and consulting with a GS1 Alliance Partner can help improve your business efficiency, profitability, safety and security.
For more information about GS1 Solution Providers or if you’re interested in becoming an Alliance Partner, email email@example.com or visit https://www.gs1au.org/what-we-do/solution-providers/.
Data warehouses are far from new. The term itself was coined back in the 1970s, and repositories for data amassed from a range of sources that can be used to inform business decisions have been part of Australia’s corporate high-tech landscape for almost as long.
With data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) the primary foci for organisations of all stripes and sizes, it’s an opportune time for businesses to review their data warehousing strategies, to ensure they’re well positioned to support burgeoning demand for insights.
Here are some tips for maximising the value of the data warehouse.
Adopt an ‘as-a-service’ model
What’s the primary role of your data warehousing team? Is it to manage infrastructure or to support the development of data programs that drive efficiency and profitability across the enterprise? If you haven’t yet adopted an ‘as a service’ model, you’ll likely find it’s the former. Management and administrative tasks – think partitioning, scaling, maintenance, back-up scripts and the like – are likely to consume a significant portion of your team’s time. As a result, there’s less time for them to work on projects that add value to the enterprise. Adopt an as a service model and all that changes. Data and service protection, database management and security are taken care of, leaving staff free to focus on exploiting data to help the organisation succeed.
Broaden your horizons
Data no longer comes in two flavours – structured and semi-structured. If your organisation is not ingesting data from a wide variety of sources – enterprise applications, mobile applications, the internet, APIs and the Internet of Things (IoT) – then you’re at the back of the pack. Today’s data integration technology makes pulling these data sources together to exploit the insights they contain a much more straightforward matter than once it was.
Implement self-service data analytics
Historically, data analytics was the remit of small specialised teams within organisations. If business units wanted queries run or information analysed, it was a matter of lodging a request and waiting for the results to be returned. Delays were a common but unavoidable occurrence.
User-friendly data analytics software has turned this model on its head. An increasing number of Australian enterprises are adopting a self-service model, whereby employees are given access to the data warehouse and provided with tools to extract insights for themselves.
The benefits of democratising data in this way can be significant. Bottlenecks can be minimised and results extracted and acted upon more quickly. Conversely, businesses that fail to throw open the data warehouse risk being left behind, as their more nimble counterparts gain a competitive ‘information advantage’.
Foster a data-driven corporate culture
Empowering employees to access and manipulate data is a vital step towards the establishment of a data-driven corporate culture, in which up-to-date information is used to inform every business decision.
“Exploiting the full potential of the corporate data warehouse is vital to the process.”
Data-driven decision making has superseded decision making based on intuition or gut feeling in at least a third of Australian boardrooms, according to 2016 research by PwC.
ICT staff can play a vital role in fostering this culture at all levels of the enterprise. Instead of acting as gatekeepers for the data warehouse, they should be regarded as trusted guides for their colleagues throughout the organisation.
Control the quality
If leveraging data across all areas of the enterprise is the aim – and it should be – it’s vital to ensure its quality and integrity. Establishing a rigorous data governance regime will ensure what’s extracted from the data warehouse is clean, trustworthy and correct.
Old-school data warehouse professionals were required to be masters of scheduling. Their challenges invariably included finding time slots when large jobs could be run without monopolising finite processing resources and disrupting other activities.
Migrating to a cloud-based, as-a-service data warehousing model puts paid to this issue. Eliminating the competition for resources allows IT staff to run multiple jobs concurrently and deliver results and insights more efficiently to stakeholders.
Improving the efficiency of the data warehouse begins with finding the right metrics with which to measure its performance and its cost to the organisation. It makes sense to include management overhead in the calculations. Many tasks and procedures which require management intervention under an in-house model can be executed automatically under an as a service model. The time savings can be considerable, over time, and should be included in any reckoning of the relative costs and benefits of the two models.
Doing more with data
In today’s digitally driven business environment, data has been dubbed the new oil. The insights it contains can help organisations become more efficient and profitable. Exploiting the full potential of the corporate data warehouse is vital to the process and Australian organisations which fail to do so may find themselves struggling to keep up with their data-driven competitors.
Peter O’Connor is the vice president of sales, Asia Pacific and Japan, at Snowflake. For more information visit www.snowflake.com.
Government regulations requiring greater compliance, the increasing need for visibility into the status of shipping loads, and an increasing responsibility for driver safety continue to drive demand for mobility technology in transport. It remains a top technology investment, according to a recent Gartner supply chain survey. Read more
The distribution centre of the future will need scale, flexibility and automation. As technology advances and society changes, consumers are demanding services faster and more readily available. Current warehousing and distribution practices won’t be sufficient to keep up with market expectations, so forward-thinking businesses are investing in flexible, scalable and automated solutions to future-proof their operations. Read more
If the vision of Industry 4.0 is to be realised, enterprises must step further into the realms of digitalisation. A critical element of this evolution is the move from traditional supply chains towards a connected, smart and highly efficient supply chain ecosystem. I4.0 is bringing down walls. Read more
An unprecedented demand for precision and pace has been a catalyst for change in the logistics and wholesale sector. These high customer expectations have led IDC to predict that by 2022, digital technologies that allow for automation of repetitive tasks will streamline supply chain operations dramatically, cutting typical manual-based processes in half. Read more
The modern global supply chain is defined by scale: billions of transactions and terabytes of data across multiple systems, with businesses generating more every moment. Traditional supply chain management (SCM) practices are quickly being outmatched by the ceaseless onslaught of information and artificial intelligence. Read more
The impacts of digital transformation and connected commerce are resounding across industries. The roles of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, employees, technology and robotics are all rapidly transforming in today’s evolving e-commerce landscape. Changing consumer behaviours and new digital initiatives have also changed the game for distribution centres (DC) and supply chains, which are now expected to skilfully handle large B2B wholesale orders, retail store replenishment orders, as well as urgent, small e-commerce orders.
Some of the biggest shifts in expectations of the DC and supply chain are inline with the flexibility that consumers now expect from e-commerce. Manhattan Associates recently conducted research that revealed 56 per cent of Australian consumers would stop shopping with a retailer that doesn’t offer flexible returns options, and 71 per cent check to see if a retailer offers flexible delivery methods such as home/office delivery, parcel pickup lockers, click-and-collect and express delivery, before shopping online with them.
Today’s supply chain and warehouse need to keep up with a much more demanding omnichannel landscape, which will likely continue to grow more demanding as technology advances and competition rises.
Keeping up with the changing industry
Under pressure from rising consumer expectations, forward-thinking companies around the world are challenging themselves to serve more customers, more quickly, more directly and more personally. And these companies realise that omnichannel distribution projects aren’t just an issue for the consumer-facing retailer end of the business – it is also very much down to supply chains and warehouses to keep up.
In an effort to keep up with the omni-channel, distribution leaders are making unified channel fulfilment a key goal, because it delivers a holistic approach that is capable of factoring in the complexities and uniqueness associated with each individual channel.
Supply chain leaders are now taking note of the benefits other businesses have gained with this approach and are taking action. They have realised it’s no longer acceptable to operate channels with segregated warehouse space, duplicative inventories, excess labour, and redundant automation.
All of these assets are expensive and in order to improve throughput, profitability and customer satisfaction, maximum utilisation is critical. There needs to be continuous optimisation and orchestration of order fulfilment activities across all assets and all channels. That’s why advanced warehouse management systems (WMS) must now also feature an embedded Warehouse Execution System (WES) and Order Streaming capabilities.
Warehouse Execution System
The trend today is that more and more organisations are going down the multi-channel fulfilment route. Tasked with handling more SKU, greater numbers of smaller, more frequent orders, across more channels – all with shorter processing times – distribution centres are under constant pressure.
Rising demand for human labour and resulting labour shortages are driving many warehouses to investigate advanced automation and robotics. The appeal is obvious: automation is not impacted by regional workforce capacity, robots do not get fatigued, injured or sick, and they can work around the clock. Robots are also safer in some cases, helping to manage large, heavy, or hazardous loads to protect both worker health and the company’s liability.
DC robotics are getting more efficient, more sophisticated and faster than ever before, with innovations coming from vendors around the world. The challenge is that different types of automation do not naturally communicate and are often not aware of each other, much less the supporting workforce. In order to get maximum throughput within the DC, the various types of automation need to work together.
“More than ever, warehouse management must be approached with a holistic perspective that considers any combination of human and automation together.”
Previously, there was no standardising of systems and no limitation to the amount of automation – when supply chain leaders introduced automation, they were forced to work with various systems: a warehouse management system (WMS), or warehouse control system (WCS), as well as a warehouse execution system (WES). The systems worked independently of each other and remained largely siloed, meaning fulfilment organisations actually had to work harder to ensure inventories were not duplicated, and resources were maximised.
These legacy WMS were never designed to continuously manage the capacity and throughput across advanced automation, robotics and humans. Now, with fulfilment across multiple channels, supply chains need a lot more flexibility.
“The challenge for the supply chain is that it has multiple flows coming from all the different channels,” said Raghav Sibal, managing director at Manhattan Associates, ANZ. “This has created a need to optimise the flow of products through different channels, as throughput needs to be measured and optimised through each area of the warehouse to be able to maximise the overall efficiency of the operation, with the WMS integrating all systems used in all areas.”
Today, the WES module needs to be built inside the WMS, rather than being patched on later from the outside. Eliminating siloed integration challenges, a WES embedded into the WMS provides a comprehensive, coordinated approach that gives complete command and control of the warehouse.
“The challenge for the supply chain is that it has multiple flows coming from all the different channels.”
Many operations have both human and automation in the warehouse, and whilst automation can be optimised at maximum capacity, a bottleneck is often created in other areas. WES inside the WMS will optimise throughput through each zone or area in the warehouse, both automation and human, in order to maximise the efficiency in each area. The system is able to take into account how long an order has been sitting, as well as orders going through goods-to-purchase, to prevent a bottleneck occurring upstream or downstream, and ensuring operations are optimised.
A fully integrated WMS should work seamlessly with any type of automation, allowing robotics providers to simply plug in to the new system and be up and running quickly.
In a further effort to take charge of omnichannel management and success, many supply chain leaders are looking to Order Streaming, a sophisticated approach to order fulfilment. Order Streaming helps the DC operate with increased speed and flexibility by breaking down the boundaries between wave (bulk orders) and waveless (smaller e-commerce orders continuously streamed) fulfilment. It allows warehouses to use multiple processes to efficiently fulfil orders of any size or type rapidly from a DC of any size or type — both smaller, local, quick-response facilities, as well as larger, regional, high-volume, automated e-commerce sites.
Australia Post’s 2018 E-commerce Industry Paper revealed that in 2017 online spending saw a growth of 18.7 per cent, while traditional retail saw a growth of only 2.5 per cent. Additionally, Australia Post predicts that by 2020, one in ten items will be bought online. With this growth, Order Streaming will become more important in the supply chain to keep up with the increased volume and smaller pick orders from e-commerce.
Order Streaming is a waveless approach and allows smaller orders to be incorporated into the flow without disrupting the efficiency and productivity of the warehouse. Rather than batching orders and dropping them into the DC operation in waves, which will slow down production as smaller or single-product orders have to sit and wait until they can fit into a batch, Order Streaming continuously evaluates the order pool and automatically releases work based on variables such as order priorities and facility processing capacities.
While many types of orders and operations are best served by batch-wave processing, development of a waveless approach has been necessary to respond to growing omnichannel fulfilment promises. Waveless manages every order as a discrete allocation of work, enabling fast, responsive fulfilment for smaller, more urgent orders. It is ideal for direct-to-consumer order fulfilment.
“Order Streaming gives distribution centres the ability to process urgent e-commerce orders throughout the day without disruptions, which is only going to be more important as e-commerce continues to grow and delivery timeframes shrink,” Mr Raghav said.
Another key benefit of Order Streaming is that the system allows retailers to accept online orders later in the day, while still allowing them to turn around and ship orders quickly (often in the same day).
Whether a warehouse relies on a combination of manual and partially automated processes, or a fully automated, robotic system, Order Streaming supports the requirements of adaptive, changeable fulfilment and delivery. Today’s trends toward sophisticated autonomous robotics open an exciting set of opportunities for Order Streaming and its impact on business strategies.
Allowing for future growth
More than ever, warehouse management must be approached with a holistic perspective that considers any combination of human and automation together. Coordination and collaboration across discrete pieces of advanced automation – as well as the human workforce – only gets more powerful when those systems are integrated with each other. The combination of an embedded WES and Order Streaming capabilities makes today’s advanced WMS one that enables total visibility across the DC, complete flexibility for automation growth, as well as continuous analysis and maximum utilisation of all resources.
As e-commerce trends continue to emerge and impact supply chains, supply chain leaders must find ways to modernise their DC operations in order to remain competitive in the face of new pure-play e-commerce start-ups, international brands, and other omnichannel enterprises. Advancements in technology, equipment, and operational best practices will certainly provide opportunities and inspiration.
Achieving omni-channel success
Manhattan Associates’ customer Country Road Group completed a successful roll out of Manhattan’s WMS. The technology deployment was a key component of a business transformation project designed to deliver a unified brand experience for customers across channels and to drive ongoing business growth.
Country Road Group’s business and sales channels have evolved in complexity and scope as the company expanded its operating footprint. With over 700 stores and a growing online operation, the retailer had outgrown its outsourced logistics services model and recognised the critical need to take greater command of its supply chain. The company made the strategic decision to invest in a new DC and chose Manhattan’s system to orchestrate goods flows through the new DC.
Head of supply chain Australasia, Country Road Group/David Jones Peter Fouskarinis commented: “The Manhattan solution has enabled us to optimise our store replenishment and online order fulfilment processes, resulting in improved product availability and customer satisfaction.”
The Manhattan system’s advanced fulfilment logic for wave management, constraint-based selection and real-time replenishment has been critical in helping Country Road Group realise its omni-channel commerce goals. The system eliminates costly physical counts with auditor-approved cycle counting, and stores can now provide same day fulfilment as a result of a new cross-docking approach.
For more information contact Manhattan Associates on +61 2 9454 5438, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.manh.com.au.