Despite amazing technological advancements in warehouse operations, labor remains an essential part of a recipe that includes IoT, advanced automation, and robotics. Technology today is designed to improve worker efficiency, safety, and accuracy. But it’s more too. It provides visibility to fuel both business success and employee satisfaction.
Business challenges abound; having visibility is critical to balance the demand of customer expectations with business resiliency, efficiency and profitability. Regardless of how advanced the warehouse has become, people still run it.
Thus, a key pillar in operational success is a labor management program. Labor management programs address key business challenges, and become the lever that ‘activates’ workers to support the operation – holistically.
- Labor productivity
- Making workers more efficient and productive relies on cross-functional information. Data related to performance expectation setting, training, feedback and planning go into the mix for the best results.
- Labor utilization
- Historic labor demands can help inform labor demand and costs through fluctuation, seasonality, and other disruptive factors.
- Performance Management
- Helping employees connect their personal roles to organization goals. Advanced systems track task-based performance and consider demonstrated strengths when allocating limited labor resources.
- Costs controls
- Are workers idle, overworked or optimally productive? Just in Time also applies to labor; automating labor tasks drives satisfaction and retention, which drive margins.
- Training and development
- Skilled workers are in high demand in today’s business environment. Proper onboarding and development of workers’ abilities leads to better performance and fewer errors.
- Process Optimization
- It’s not just process automation, it’s continuous process improvement to identify bottlenecks, labor data and trends to streamline your approach.
Labor represents a fluctuating influence on financial metrics for the business. While many firms focus strictly on the KPI outcomes, labor – and its optimization – play a critical part in delivering that performance.
Just as technology has advanced to support key parts of the warehouse, labor management systems are necessary for optimizing the labor who use the technology. Due to a combination of erratic demand, labor pool shortages, and sped-up fulfillment processes, labor management needs to be seamlessly integrated into your systems. Luckily, this best practice is seamlessly supported by partners like TZA with their ProTrack LMS working in partnership with the Deposco Bright WMS & OMS.
Warehouse and order management solutions need to support integration with these solutions to produce the best results. The order management system will consolidate the demand signals from your online marketplaces, trading partners, and owned channels. Combined with the historical execution data produced by the warehouse management system, a labor management solution can more accurately profile and recommend the best staffing model and then monitor and optimize the fulfillment process.
“Labor management may be the last place firms deploy technology. But that approach is a miss today,” says Joe Henderson, Sr. Director of Technology Alliances, Deposco. “When labor was abundant and cheap, the primary focus was on optimizing the warehouse and fulfilling orders. Today, businesses have the analytical horsepower to strategically position their skilled labor to maximize returns. This, combined with clean inventory, order, and fulfillment processes with a warehouse management system, provides a significant competitive differentiator.”
World-class firms can’t perform to their customers demanding expectations without leveraging the benefits of integrated labor management and warehouse management systems.