Overcoming Order Fulfillment Burden with Warehouse Execution Systems
Due to the finicky nature of today's customers, order fulfillment has become more than just receiving an order and shipping it to the customer. Rather, it is now about processing and delivering that order to the satisfaction of the customer.
As order fulfillment becomes more complex, manufacturers and distributors are burdened to meet customer demand in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, these companies are struggling with various other challenges creating inefficiencies throught the order fulfillment process, including:
- Limited space: Warehouses have limited space to store and stage orders and the customer sites often have smaller "back rooms." This forces more just-in-time (JIT) order placements.
- Unreliable Transportation: Due to a shortage of drivers, the transportation industry has become increasingly unreliable. Orders are being delayed and taking up valuable warehouse space because of trucks missing their appointments.
- Lack of communication: Miscommunication between sales, manufacturing, warehousing and even the customer can lead to order changes late in the process resulting in incorrect orders being shipped or missing deadlines.
While there are many tools available (ranging from manual to full automation), warehouse execution systems (WES) are emerging as a top choice for many leading manufacturing companies. "Eliminating the need for multiple applications, a WES offers the inventory management, storage optimization and traceability features of a WMS, as well as the automation control components of a WCS, which provide a real-time view of material handling equipment, labor status and other KPIs crucial to efficient operations," says Westfalia's Dave Williams, director of software and solutions delivery.