Logistics software: how to facilitate peak hour management

Transparent data prepared especially for your logistics operation will allow you to easily cross your peaks

The peaks are all so different

During the summer months, in one sector the demand for sunscreen explodes while in another, it is the demand for mineral water. Everyone knows about these seasonal requirements. The result is often maximum sales volume for a specific group of items. The good news is that these peaks occur around the same time each year and can therefore be easily planned.

Today’s influencer community also has a huge impact on merchandise plannability and delivery performance. When a photo of a prominent influencer wearing a specific outfit, glasses or jewelry is uploaded, demand for the article may increase. This type of spike, however, can also be easily managed. The hype usually revolves around a single item and can easily be handled by a modern logistics system.

But what really makes supply chain and warehouse managers sweat are extremely intense days or weeks of sales like the famous black friday or Cyber ​​Monday. These are the main drivers of the spikes, and all involve e-commerce. They are responsible for record turnovers in very different sectors around the world. Here, it is extremely difficult to predict what sales volume will be achieved for which goods.

Balancing the workload – the real challenge

Imagine a warehouse operating 24 hours a day, 360 days a year. This warehouse operates at a perfect optimum with a fixed capital in the form of stocks perfectly balanced with sales and purchases, and all the articles perfectly distributed in the various storage areas of the warehouse. Warehouse technologies for manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic solutions are perfectly balanced and all processes run smoothly. Suddenly, the situation changes, whether it’s due to a new corporate strategy, pervasive retail dynamics, or perhaps due to a whole new influencer. During periods of normal activity, this means that our optimized warehouse only needs to operate at its highest level for a short time. Under certain circumstances, however, we may be forced to make significant changes to our optimum.

How do we quickly bring our logistics operation to full capacity during such a peak?

Logistics software is your asset in the hand, before, during and after peaks

Sophisticated transportation networks are great at logistics, but the bottom line is how quickly an order gets to a warehouse. This is why order lead time is such an important key number to gauge the performance of a particular warehouse location during a peak period. These key figures can be determined and used to help establish the right conditions to shorten lead times. The truth is, the faster an order leaves the warehouse, the more orders can be fulfilled during that time.

In this context, the magic words are clear logistics data and integrated software systems. These contribute significantly to the optimal processing of orders and thus to the good management of peak periods. Scans, configurations, and resources are our primary parameters for tweaking the system.

logistics software

Before the peaks – use data analysis to make the right decisions

Predictive and retrospective data analyzes are essential for making fundamental decisions and defining logistics strategies. Complete transparency is the primary benefit of having fully integrated software systems in a logistics facility. With analytics, you have a solid foundation of data, facts, and figures from previous periods to base your planning on. They can reveal weak points in the logistics facility, such as unplanned replenishment of overstock to the picking area or failure of mechanical components, and allow you to take steps to correct the problem before things go wrong. get out of control.

The benefit of data transparency becomes even more apparent if you compare it to the way things were done before, using lists and based on intuition. The data can be used to make an accurate forecast. Based on this calculation, parameters are set to ensure the best possible conditions for peaks. These parameters can be of a logistical nature, for example the ABC classification of the goods. They can also affect technologies or resources. For example, you can define the necessary maintenance work for each machine in order to avoid breakdowns or plan the staff so that the right employees are available.

WMS and WCS to set up a strategy for peaks

Once a strategy is defined and decisions are made regarding logistical, technical and resource parameters, the warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) put them into practice . If necessary, a fully integrated system with an analysis database can also automatically make adjustments. These are mainly decisions made on the basis of the ABC classification regarding the most appropriate place to store certain goods in the warehouse. The forecast data for a specific period determines a forecasted sales volume, which then determines the respective quantity of those goods.

Every process required in the warehouse – from goods receipt to quality control intervals to replenishment – is then fine-tuned via configuration. Unplanned restocking of the pick area from excess stock costs time and should be avoided. These fine adjustments result in a warehouse that can handle most of the challenges associated with a spike. All goods are where they are needed. At the same time, the flow of goods not affected by the peak should not be negatively influenced. What we are doing is building an additional high-speed logistics line through the warehouse for a fixed period. Intelligent warehouse management and control systems help keep traffic organized, smooth and stable.

Operational excellence systems for the best use of human resources

Your optimized system stores goods in the optimal location, replenishes them in the best warehouse area and, if necessary, controls them correctly. Optimal staffing is the next necessary element and is just as important as maintaining this all-important inventory. For peak periods, this means having your employees at the right workstations and being equipped with the right tools necessary to ensure that the order lead time reaches the calculated optimum. It also means properly utilizing your employees who have special training and expertise. Operational excellence systems help the warehouse manager choose the most effective employees for each activity based on their skills and experience. If you have a fully integrated product for this domain, you can also see from the WMS/WCS which processes are active on the workstations. From this data, you can determine the employees you need. Here is an example: three quality control stations are active in the morning, which means that three employees with quality control skills are needed for the first shift.

Get your logistics facility in top shape with CMMS

Everything is prepared. Your employees are motivated and at their workplace, and the goods are optimally stored in the right place and in the right quantity and quality. The first orders can be processed but, suddenly, mechatronics puts a brake on the work. Just as regular maintenance is essential for the newest and best car, regular maintenance is also essential for warehouse facilities. Thanks to the CMMS, which is the abbreviation of Computerized Maintenance Management System, data analyzes determine exactly when each piece of equipment should be inspected. Here are some of the questions that need to be answered: Is maintenance due? How many hours has the engine been running? When was the printer last checked? This electronic watchdog avoids unpleasant surprises and it is urgent to do so. Every machine that suddenly breaks down, even the smallest component such as a printer, or a small problem at the goods inbound dock of any location, can cause delays in a high-speed line. A smart CMMS can avoid such delays.

Conclusion: Smart logistics software successfully guides you through every peak

Transparent data from analytics systems helps you find the strategies needed to master peak workloads at peak times. Past experiences are used in addition to what the forecasts say about the volumes that should come in for processing. Warehouse management and control systems implement the derived strategies in the form of system configurations and system settings to achieve the expected result. As soon as warehouse management and control systems are in place with inventory and warehouse modeling, a staffing plan is created. Here, resource management does the work. Once our motivated employees are ready to go, the CMMS checks for any machine inspection or maintenance requirements to keep everything running smoothly.

Thanks to all the possibilities offered by logistics software nowadays, we can now be perfectly prepared for the next peak period, unleashing the full potential of the warehouse. A look into the future reveals that by adding machine learning and artificial intelligence, there is still plenty of room for even more improvement.

**

Martina SchwingerMartina Schwinger, Portfolio Manager, at KNAPP for Software & IT, is responsible for implementing the software strategy and IT solutions. During the last 20 years at KNAPP, she held various positions within the subsidiaries of the KNAPP group. She has always focused on software and IT. During this period, his leadership and concrete involvement in international logistics projects gave him the opportunity to test different logistics and strategic approaches. As a certified logistics consultant and by continuing her training in logistics and computer software, Martina stays in step with the times.