New Ways to Take Advantage of Your Warehouse Data
Explore three considerations for harnessing warehouse data to improve operation excellence
When talking to our customers (especially those in e-commerce), it seems they all have one common problem: Having to do more with less.
Retailers have more orders, more SKUs, and higher customer expectations. But also, less time for fulfilling orders, less time for order delivery, and less time for taking care of maintenance. That leaves hardly any room for making mistakes. Consumers are unwilling to forgive incomplete or delayed orders and can easily decide to switch to a competitor. As a result, operational excellence has become the primary goal for retailers (and yet it’s a hidden treasure).
As a member of the Dematic Digital Solutions team, I am convinced the key to achieving operational excellence is data, and so I’m presenting here are a few considerations for how to use data to your advantage. I am hopeful that it will help you find the hidden treasure for your operations.
Andy Bruinsma, Dematic Digital Solutions Leader
Dematic Insights not only improves operations at your facility today, but it can also provide great depth into how to operate at peak efficiency in the future.
Consideration 1: Your operation is probably already collecting millions of data points and events
All modern fulfilment facilities (small, medium, or large) require software to handle the operations. Execution software systems such as a WES (Warehouse Execution System) or WMS (Warehouse Management System) are vital to directing facility operations to fulfill orders as efficiently as possible. These systems answer to the controls layer and the PLC software with sub-second response times. They manage users logging in and logging out, fulfilling orders, assigning SKUs, doing SKU replenishment, and many other tasks.
In addition, your facility is likely running a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, which is highly important for those responsible for maintaining your facility. A SCADA system detects in real time whether an operation is running properly and is often the first point of contact for corrective maintenance.
All these systems (and there might be several more in your operation) collect data. The question is: what can you do with that data?
Consideration 2: You need reliable data to make good decisions
Data from these systems contain precise information about your facility’s operations and performance. And precise information allows you to make the best possible choices to maximize the availability, efficiency, and even lifecycle of your operation.
Again, the necessary data is already being generated in your facility, but most retailers are not taking full advantage of it to drive operations. The data can provide answers to important questions such as:
- Are some areas of your site more productive than others?
- Do your operators perform better during certain times of the day?
- Are certain shifts better than others?
- Are certain SKUs causing more problems than others?
- Are certain SKUs always short on inventory?
- Are there any faults in my system that cause more downtime than others?
Speaking about downtime, maintaining high availability of your facility operations is the most important component of ensuring efficient operations. Downtime can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. Any decision that can help you reduce downtime can save you millions of dollars — especially if you operate on multiple sites.
So, the data for making good decisions is already there. But you might be lacking the right tool to take full advantage of it.
Consideration 3: You may have the data but not the analysis you need
Although your WES, WCS, WMS, or even SCADA software may have dashboards and feedback for you, data analysis is not their primary focus. This is why a dedicated analytics tool is crucial.
Dematic InSights gathers all operational, maintenance, and equipment data from your systems — and across networks of locations — to provide a single, cohesive view through a suite of dashboards that display uptime, operator metrics, shipping throughput, fault analysis, and much more. By providing real-time access to your data with clear visibility, you can develop and implement action plans to improve your operations and maintenance by proactively addressing potential issues before they become truly disruptive.
Another important benefit of Dematic InSights is that (unlike other software platforms) it can store your very detailed data for multiple years. This is especially important for operational change, where you need to compare how your systems performed before and after an implementation. A reliable data trend analysis can help future-proof your business.
Doing more with less
Dematic InSights not only improves operations at your facility today, but it can also provide great depth into how to operate at peak efficiency in the future. In other words, it can reveal for you the hidden treasure of operational excellence so you can do more with less.