Today’s supply chains are complex networks of interdependent elements. Communication is crucial to supply chain success, yet it is surprisingly one of the most significant areas needing improvement.
The modern nature of warehouses and the need for fast, slick processes to meet shorter turnarounds required complete visibility at all times. Managers need to be able to communicate with warehouse operatives and have a clear vision of how the warehouse is functioning all at once.
Similarly, workers need to be able to reach a supervisor instantly if there is a problem without wasting precious productive time. Enhanced communication must be introduced throughout the entire supply chain – including stores, warehouses and distribution centres – and even the end customer to achieve maximum productivity.
The supply chain is too often considered warehousing and undue attention is focused here. With technologies such as RFID for scanning and tracking and robotics for picking, sortation and despatch, warehouse management can be automated, including using WMS, producing operational efficiencies, cost savings and increased throughput.
Creating an Effective Business Backbone
While warehouses are more modern, they are still significant, loud and sometimes disorganised environments, and constant communication is crucial to keep processes flowing. Whether communicating between managers and staff, warehouse supervisors and operatives, or between different points of the supply chain network, there is a vital need for instant communication.
To ensure maximum productivity, warehouse communications can be streamlined with new technology, such as the latest cloud WMS.
Mobile communication, for instance, means staff and managers can now be ‘connected’ at all times, reducing the potential for delays and ensuring the warehouse continues to run at its best. This need for a single line of communication across the entire network is now more critical than ever. It forms the basis for the rest of the warehouse to operate effectively.
Optimised Operations Communication
While warehouses are still primarily geared towards a model of shipping bulk items to stores, they must now also deal with more minor direct-to-customer deliveries and be able to pick up and redistribute returned items across the supply chain.
With so many moving parts, any delay in communication within the supply chain and the warehouse will ultimately lead to delays in items getting where they need to be the most – in the hands of customers.
Older communications like telephone stations and loudspeakers are ineffective in a modern warehouse environment. Operatives and managers now need access to mobile devices which allow them to communicate and track each other’s movement around the warehouse to speed up fulfilment rates.
Some technology, like Voice Directed Picking (VDP), has been helpful in the past, enabling warehouse operatives to respond to voice-based direction and process tasks more naturally and timely manner.
More modern, multi-modal speech-directed solutions have now developed this ability even further.
For example, suppose a worker needs to pick up multiple orders simultaneously and get voice instructions to the following pick-up location. In that case, they can also view on a mobile screen where to place the item while being able to scan barcodes and RFID tags to confirm correct pick-ups, removing the delays of seeking verification from a manager.
Effective Order Management
We’ve already seen how warehouses have become a more significant part of direct-to-customer shipping fulfilment. The need to meet next-day and same-day commitments alongside the store deliveries means operatives are under more pressure to optimise processes.
From scanning and tracking items through the warehouse to monitoring progress through delivery or managing any returns, tracking and communicating the progress of supplies and finished goods is essential in today’s fast-paced business world.
Connected mobile devices, equipped with scanners and location tracking technology, enable operatives to monitor the process of orders from the warehouse floor. The result is that items anywhere within the supply chain can be instantly located, significantly increasing accuracy.
Multi-mode solutions are critical to the optimisation of order management. Research shows that these systems can reduce overall order fulfilment times by more than 15% compared to voice-only solutions. It also helps to reduce error rates – again saving time and money – with error rates in voice-only systems being 63% higher compared to multi-modal communication.
The ability of managers to communicate with operatives on the warehouse floor is now only a small part of the fulfilment process. Collaboration is now required across the entire supply network to track and monitor stock – including through the distribution and transport stage.
Mobile computers, which can be connected to the same voice and data communications and are available at any point in the supply chain, make it much easier to keep the supply chain moving, with issues raised and solved immediately from anywhere.
For instance, the only time a wrong delivery could be identified in the past was when the driver got to the endpoint.
Directly scanning items in situ means items can be confirmed before moving, and stock can be identified and delivered much more quickly. This alone is making the supply chain much more streamlined and ensuring that problems are rapidly addressed when they occur.
Improving collaboration across the network also produces significant benefits from a fulfilment point, with individual items picked nearly 17% faster, and complete order fulfilment is more than 15% faster with multi-modal communication.
Operational Optimisation Communication
Aligning operations throughout the supply chain – from the warehouse to the end user – ensures the smoothest and most efficient journey of stock and items.
In an environment where different-sized orders are being distributed to stores and customers, it becomes ever more critical to improving communication and coordination: and a breakdown in either instantly affects cooperation along the supply chain – costing time and money and impacting a company’s reputation.
New technology, particularly wearable technology, means operatives and managers can be in constant contact. At the same time, activities can be optimised, and productivity can be maximised through mobile comms, scanners and devices. Implementing this technology throughout the supply chain is vital in a modern, fast-paced environment, particularly with many more points of contact than previously.
Ensuring critical business information can be accessed, shared and edited across the network has become a fundamental component of the modern warehouse network. Modernising communication is the only way the supply chain can handle current consumer lead demands.
In conclusion, communication is crucial for supply chain success, and effective communication has become even more critical in today’s fast-paced business world.
Complete visibility is necessary with the modern nature of warehouses and the need for fast, slick processes to meet shorter turnarounds. Technologies such as RFID for scanning and tracking and robotics for picking, sortation and despatch can automate warehouse management, producing operational efficiencies, cost savings and increased throughput.
Mobile communication allows staff and managers to be connected at all times, reducing potential delays and ensuring the warehouse continues to run at its best. This need for a single line of communication across the entire network is critical and forms the basis for the rest of the warehouse to operate effectively. To achieve maximum productivity, warehouse communications can be streamlined with new technology, such as the latest cloud WMS.
Clarus WMS is a cloud-native warehouse management system that can help enhance communication and optimise operations. With real-time data and analytics, managers have complete visibility of the warehouse, enabling them to make informed decisions and streamline processes.
Additionally, the system offers features such as scanning, tracking and location tracking technology, which helps to automate warehouse management and improve accuracy and efficiency. With its advanced capabilities, Clarus WMS can help warehouse managers improve productivity, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.