Supply chain complexity doesn’t have to be complicated. A well designed, mutually dependent and interconnected set of systems where a change in one component can influence other components can actually be quite simple. For one of our clients, a major telecommunications company, their existing supply chain and inventory management processes had been effectively supporting their core business. However, it was rapidly becoming inefficient, lacked part visibility, and wasn’t scalable as the company grew and expanded their lines of business and supplier partners. To handle this growth in complexity, their warehouses needed to implement and integrate with a warehouse management system (WMS).
After extensive planning and alignment of business goals across various client teams, Perficient’s Management Consulting group led the effort to configure, develop, and deploy Manhattan & Associate’s SCALE WMS application to the client’s 135 warehouses, across five regions of the United States within a single year. The warehouses not only benefited from the typical improvements from implementing a WMS-decreased processing time and increased inventory accuracy – but they also increased flexibility and scalability within the supply chain to easily onboard future strategic supplier partners and pivot as market demands continue to shift.
Another critical piece of the implementation was spearheaded by Perficient’s technical team who developed a centralized integration layer. This allowed the WMS to interact with internal, homegrown systems and other vendor systems for real-time data, as well as assisted in automating inventory management flows that were historically burdened by manual processing and human error. The newly developed collection of APIs drastically improved performance for retrieval of inventory data within all the various systems, which were previously disconnected.
Other immediate benefits included a single source of truth for warehouse and inventory data, which ensures all integrated systems see the same inventory details, as well as integration and synchronization with the WMS and legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. In addition, this middleware layer was incorporated into an AWS cloud infrastructure environment to meet the client’s desires of a cloud-first approach.
Additional Key Benefits:
- Inventory Traceability – Prior to implementing the WMS, the client had visibility of inventory levels, but lacked visibility of where items were located within the warehouse. Warehouse personnel would have to recall by memory where they placed (or misplaced) an item. With the WMS, the guessing game of where to find an item was resolved by systematically tracking each item’s movements and locations down to the bin level within the warehouse.
- Mobility – The warehouse personnel are now no longer tethered to their desktop computer and are free to move around the warehouse with the use of a mobile device and scanning application. This increased efficiency, eliminated a non-value-added activity of walking back to a computer and allowed the warehouse staff to be more productive by moving inventory systematically in real-time.
- Streamlined Processes – As part of the effort, the management consulting group worked with the client to update their antiquated warehouse processes by implementing supply chain best practices in order to meet the expectations of today’s consumers.
- Future-Proof Onboarding – With the new WMS and integration layer, the complexity of day-to-day warehouse tasks decreased. Coupled with robust training materials, the client can easily onboard new employees in a role that typically has high turnover. Additionally, a new tool was designed to load warehouse inventory levels from the ERP system into the WMS application including the granularity of bin locations, which decreased warehouse go-live time (after configurations) from 8 hours to 15 minutes. This allows the client to quickly standup a new warehouse as they expand.
The templatized foundation laid by Perficient’s Management Consulting group continues to deliver value today, as the client prepares to implement the Manhattan SCALE Warehouse Management System Application within its manufacturing facilities as well, which will enable further optimization of overall supply chain capabilities.
This blog was co-authored by Todd TeStrake.