Navigating today’s turbulent economy, it is essential for logistics operations to optimize their processes. What better way to do so, than utilizing the data already available in the organization? These data can deliver a full picture to identify inefficiencies, manage costs and make intelligent and timely decisions. For this, all information needs to be readily available in one place. However, the different technologies and systems in the warehouse often share only a minimal amount of data they produce. So, how can data be unified for better decision making that will help optimize warehouse operations?

Data silos and why you want to break them

Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Warehouse Control Systems (WCS), and Time and Attendance systems are all active in the day-to-day operation of fulfillment centers. Most of them have their own reporting functionality existing on top. Sometimes they even interface with other business critical systems but often share only a minimal amount of data which they produce.

These data sources are creating what we call “data silos”, and often paint an unrealistic picture of the total operation. As an operator, this can mean different sources of truth exist, and multiple applications must be leveraged to get the full picture of the sites’ critical KPIs and performance. However, the value in these systems does not lie with what they do on their own, but what they contribute to the overall solution.  

Avoid costly decisions caused by inaccurate and incomplete data

Executives and stakeholders need a full picture to make intelligent and timely decisions for shift planning and execution.  With inaccurate or incomplete data those decisions can be costly. 

By implementing a system that looks after the big picture, you gain intelligence that will save you operating hours, increase performance, and increase utilization of both your equipment and your personnel.  Organizations that make efforts to bring together traditionally siloed data sources will enjoy multiple benefits.

Benefits of unified data

Here is a list of benefits that you will experience if you avoid the negative effects of data silos and how it will help you optimize warehouse operations.

Operational clarity lets you quickly identify problems

To fulfill demand on time at the lowest cost possible, your organization has probably spent countless dollars on software and robotics to help organize and execute processes.  But when these technologies operate in their own black box, it can lead to a total solution that is not cohesive.  If no one is looking after the big picture, you’re left scratching your head as to why your system isn’t flowing as advertised.

The typical warehouse or fulfillment center employees hundreds of employees, and dozens of managers.  With a system that unifies data, those responsible for individual processes can easily reference how their area is doing, as well as how their area is being affected by others.  Decision making is made easy when leadership can quickly identify where the problem is, and what solutions are available to fix it.

Consistent and timely information leads to faster decisions

When multiple systems report on similar KPIs, it’s not uncommon that you get not-so-similar results.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with the reporting, but variables such as when the data was last updated, what data is being analyzed, and the scope of the report all factor into the outcome.  It’s important to establish a single source of truth, and a common reference for performance so that everyone is playing off the same sheet of music.

Also, time is an important factor. You may be thinking, “we do have a complete picture, it just takes some work to put it all together.”  This in itself is a very costly problem as well. Because the site is not fully unified from a data perspective, you’re forced to employ business analysts and data engineers to create complex methods to make sense of what reality is.  This becomes especially frustrating when time-sensitive issues arise, and hours are wasted trying to find a solution. 

Proactive agility enables focus on improvements

It’s every operations manager’s dream to become less reactive and more proactive.  So much time is spent firefighting, and not enough time is spent on the floor coaching and improving the team.  Time is wasted when spent looking through multiple applications to figure out what is going on.  When data is unified, you can stay ahead of demand variance, unexpected employee no-shows, and mechanical issues.  The operation can be mapped such that when these variables shift, the ideal solution can be automatically calculated and prescribed.

Balanced workflows avoid bottlenecks 

It’s great that multiple pieces of technology can be combined to create an efficient solution, but when they operate independently, these technologies naturally focus on their own scope.  This can lead to certain parts of the system outperforming others, which affects overall equipment and resource utilization, and can potentially leave you bottlenecked. 

Performance and utilization increase

Every minute wasted due to an outage or bottleneck means money lost.  When all data is leveraged, intelligent systems can identify deficient processes and make smart recommendations to ensure the right resources are deployed to the right place at the right time.  This guarantees optimal workflow, which results in improvement for both resource utilization and site performance.

No more vendor “finger pointing”

This is every business’s nightmare when implementing a new complex system.  As a leader, you’re simply trying to identify where the pain points are and alleviate them.  But no one takes responsibility because from their perspective, they have delivered as promised, it must be someone else’s problem.  By bringing together data from all subsystems, you can clearly see what, and more importantly why performance is degrading.  In fact, the data should even be able to tell you how you can mitigate the issue.

Solution to optimize warehouse operations

redPILOT is the premier solution on the market to unify traditionally siloed data sources so that operations leadership can get a holistic picture of their facility.  We bring together data from ERP, OMS, WMS, WES, WCS, LMS, and any other relevant subsystem in order to provide a clear picture of system demand, resources to fulfill that demand, and the performance which those resources are capable of.  With that, redPILOT is able to create optimized shift plans, real-time bottleneck detection and mitigation, and mission critical KPIs and reports which team leaders can make informed decisions of off.

Are you ready to break up your data silos and unify your data? Contact us more information.

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