Lessons learned from LIDD's UniPro WMS Assessment Survey

June 05, 2015 BY Charles Fallon

20150605 - Lessons learned WMSAt the end of August, I’ll be out in Sacramento for the UniPro Scope event where I will present the results of a WMS assessment survey that we are conducting with UniPro companies.

It has been fascinating reviewing the responses as they trickle in.  And while we are only sharing the results with participants, there are a couple of interesting findings that apply to almost anyone running a WMS in their distribution center.

Almost nobody uses the full functionality of the WMS they implement.  Sometimes, that’s because there is functionality so specific to a special case of distribution, that it’s not relevant.  However, experience tells me there’s a more common cause.

WMS implementations are enormous, draining projects.  Getting such complex software to the go-live date inevitably requires trade-offs where things get pushed into a dreamy, far-off “phase 2” implementation.  Once the system becomes stable, everyone returns to a new normal of getting product in and orders out.  “Phase 2” never happens.  Or if it does, it happens years later, coincident with a major upgrade.

The second thing that pops out from our WMS survey (and experience) is that decades into the information revolution, we don’t squeeze out as much actionable information as we could from these systems.  WMS’ direct labor based on rules and volumes; they allow people to execute and record tasks; they provide basic reporting.  But when it comes to the asset it manages, namely the warehouse, that reporting is rudimentary at best.

We should use the opportunities we have at User Conferences to push for more intelligence in reporting on how our warehouse is performing.  Productivity is important, but so is asset utilization.  A typical WMS has the data we need to answer questions like: “how well are we using reserve and pick locations?”  And that question can go in 100 different ways – too many for this blog.

If you are a UniPro member, your deadline for submitting a response is fast approaching.  Contact Declan Montague @514-933-8777 to get access to the survey!