Supply Chain Disruptions: The Warehouse Perspective (Part 1)
This blog was co-authored by Mark Severns, Product Marketing Director, and Logan Kluth, Product Management Director.
In a series of blog articles, the Product/Solution Marketing team explores innovative solutions to guard against supply chain disruptions.
It doesn’t take too many swipes on your favorite news site to find an article about another supply chain disruption. It seems the news has regular stories about broad, macro issues such as labor shortages, backups at ports, and supply issues. How long these will continue is anyone’s guess. Managing uncertainty is an important discipline in any business, but this much uncertainty all at once can make even the most seasoned professional’s head spin as they wonder if their plan to manage these disruptions will be effective.
At the warehouse level, disruptions can take many forms and have the potential to wreak havoc on daily operations. Having the right technology and plan in place can mitigate these disruptions and assure smoother operations farther down the supply chain.
In the Part 1 of a two-part blog, we’ll explore these unexpected events and the role Blue Yonder plays to navigating warehouse operations through them.
The Holiday Traffic Jam
Imagine it’s the holiday season, and the route to the warehouse has been blocked by a traffic jam. It’s gridlock out there. Traffic is being delayed for hours, and trailers you were expecting to unload, putaway and load for shipment aren’t going to be arriving in time. With the late arrival of the inventory, the warehouse’s SLA is in jeopardy.
The warehouse needs to react to the change in expected delivery timing by temporarily shifting from a traditional receive, put away, and pick & ship model to an opportunistic cross-dock environment. When the trailer finally makes its arrival, Blue Yonder offers the ability for the product to be unloaded and cross docked to join the outbound shipments. This reduces the risk of late shipments and ensures that product arrives at the destination on time.
An Unexpected Spike in Order Volume
The day starts like any other in the warehouse, when suddenly there is an unexpected spike in orders. It’s uncertain if the current staffing is enough to handle the increase in workload. This could mean costly overtime. It’s early in the morning, so there is time to respond.
By using Blue Yonder’s Labor Management solution, the warehouse can determine the headcount needed for the day by task type, based on the inbound and outbound volumes and types. As a result, they discover they will need additional headcount to meet today’s demand. Additional staff is called in at the beginning of the day, avoiding overtime while ensuring the orders are fulfilled.
The Supply Shortage
A flour shortage has impacted baked goods suppliers. As a result, they are only able to produce 50% of what was expected. The warehouse generally processes these baked goods for shipment to stores across the region, but now there will not be enough product to fulfill the regular store orders.
The warehouse needs to rethink its distribution strategy in the face of less product than anticipated. Using Blue Yonder, the facility can develop a “fair share” model that delivers a percentage of product to all the stores, with preference given to certain stores based on size, demand or other criteria. Every store gets at least one case of goods, with extras fair shared across the higher priority stores. Blue Yonder’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) helps the facility make the most of a difficult demand situation.
The Unforeseen Shutdown
The central e-commerce warehouse in the Southeast is unexpectedly shut down for two weeks. During that time, the facility does not have power and trailers can’t get in or out. Orders that should be fulfilled from this warehouse will need to be filled elsewhere.
Luckily, there is a case & pallet operation not far away that is up and running. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been configured to handle e-commerce and needs to be brought online quickly, as the e-commerce orders are beginning to back up.
By turning on e-commerce capabilities in Blue Yonder, the case & pallet operation can shift quickly to handling the e-commerce orders. Cost to serve may see an increase, but customer service levels will remain intact, as will the customer experience with the brand.
In the face of unexpected disruptions, Blue Yonder’s WMS delivers the flexibility to adapt operations and achieve the best outcome.
This is just the start of exploring disruptions that can impact the warehouse and resolutions that can be accomplished with Blue Yonder’s WMS. In our next post, we’ll explore some additional challenges.
Read Part 2 of this two-part blog series.