Leveraging the capabilities from your Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Transportation Management System (TMS), while synchronizing pre-built adaptable workflows can help reduce costs, improve throughput and enhance the customer experience. Customers see many benefits beyond delivery of the inherent best-of-breed (BoB) optimization, which include enhanced labor planning and utilization, improved cycle time and throughput, enhanced responsiveness and agility and decreased transportation costs. 

1. Establishing Effective Interoperability Between Planning and Execution in Transportation

There’s always been an inherent separation between planning and actual execution within the realm of the supply chain. Historically, this separation resulted from the gap in time — measured in months for some aspects of supply chain planning — between planning and when orders begin to be placed.

In the realm of supply chain execution, and specifically transportation planning and order fulfillment, this isn’t the case. The gap between transportation planning and execution is naturally limited, and in some cases, non-existent. Consequently, plans resulting from transportation optimization technology must be operationally executable from the start, meaning they need to be aware of operational commitments to carriers, the status of order processing in the warehouses, and constraints in the physical distribution network. If they’re not, transportation planners are forced to react and sometimes to significantly less than optimal or negative results.

Creating an active interoperability between the planning activity and the ever-changing dynamics of the execution ecosystem, including transportation planning and warehouse fulfillment activities, can combat this challenge. The approach utilizes four concepts: Comprehensive constraints, constraint aware planning, iterative optimization and labor scheduling to optimize utilization. This creates a better synergized approach that balances the large-scale efficiencies of planning with the nimble, real-world flexibility of execution.

2. Comprehensive Constraints

Transportation planning engines have become more sophisticated not only in their ability to consider complex routing and consolidation scenarios, but also in the expansion of the constraints they can consider. To extend this further, the deeper those constraints can represent execution-level processes, the greater the interoperability. Yet expanding consideration of these constraints is not enough. Solutions must be able to dynamically consider how those constraints change over the continuum of time, as well as layer in an iterative and incremental approach to optimization.

While most solutions have some element of scheduling, it is typically restricted to the consideration of transit and processing times. Where solutions incorporate dock scheduling and appointment booking, it’s often treated as an execution-level process independent of the planning cycle. The challenge with this approach is that it becomes reactive and often leads to undermining the value of the original plan.

3. Constraint Aware Planning

Awareness of network and storage constraints is critical for optimizing inventory deployment to meet customer expectations for service. Blue Yonder provides a synchronized order to shipment relationship model between transportation and warehousing and the ability to estimate palletization needs, given combined transportation and warehousing constraints. Blue Yonder also provides an evaluation-based decision support paradigm, wherein load planners can evaluate the impact of action by reviewing key metrics before committing to the results of that action. Additional capabilities include improved scheduling through the consideration of historical and real-time traffic implications, out-of-the-box visibility to the audit history or major operational entities and the ability to generate user activity reports from audit data and industry specific shipment attributes in rating, tariff restrictions and handling time.

The solution gives continuous feedback and updates to fulfillment planning regarding constraints such as equipment, availability, precise transit times and vendor ready shipment information, helping to reduce buffer stock, in transit inventory and improve customer service levels.

4. Iterative Optimization

A typical transportation process assumes that once the planning process is completed, regardless of the time horizon, it is then handed off to execution and any subsequent changes are handled then. With an iterative and incremental approach, planning becomes an ongoing function that does not really end, but instead continuously functions, recognizing order status in the warehouse and available load capacity to accommodate order changes, and opportunistically consider additional freight to be added to the shipment to improve the shipment utilization. Additionally, in this model, orders and constraints become organic and are carried across subsequent optimization runs so that each round of planning understands what happened before it and the current operating environment.

Blue Yonder’s optimization algorithms act as a control tower with full event management capability. The solution synchronizes with other real-time providers and empowers users with the capabilities needed to solve today’s intricate transportation challenges and simultaneously giving operational visibility.  These include the previously mentioned constraint aware planning and status aware iterative optimization, but also provide leading edge capabilities to leverage real time insights to predict and proactively react to future disruptions, as well as correlation and rationalization of big data to drive continuous improvement

5. Labor Scheduling to Optimize Utilization

Whether your concern is securing increasingly scarce resources including trucks and drivers, skilled forklift drivers, or a mass of warehouse associates in anticipation of peak demand, strong labor forecasting capabilities can reduce risk substantially.  Supplementing these forecasts with scheduling tools that can be extended into a mobile ready workforce can improve attendance, increase flexibility, and further mitigate the patchiness of demand day to day. With Blue Yonder, leveraging improved visibility into the constraints inherent in the physical supply chain (dock door availability, available appointment times, etc.) can improve the accuracy of these forecasts and schedules, improve overall utilization, and decrease the likelihood of wasted labor that was needed elsewhere.

Conclusion: A Synchronized WMS and TMS solutions Lead to Better Efficiencies in the Warehouse and on the Road

When WMS and TMS solutions are siloed, it’s difficult to manage inventory within the warehouse without inbound and outbound load visibility in the distribution center. Inefficient execution in the warehouse or on the road leads to lower productivity levels. When WMS and TMS solutions are synchronized, all departments within an organization begin to work with the same data, reducing risk and decreasing costs. This also results in improved efficiencies, better decision making and improved supply chain execution and profitability.

How Blue Yonder Can Help

Implementing Blue Yonder’s WMS with Blue Yonder’s TMS will single-handedly maximize productivity and increase profits. A coordinated plan to synchronize the two solutions will provide the greatest benefits to your warehouse and transportation operations. Contact Blue Yonder to learn more today.