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.

In Part 1 of our conversation around disruptions, we highlighted that the unexpected is becoming far more commonplace across the supply chain.  When these events reach the warehouse, agility and resilience are critically important to navigating through the issue with the least possible impact to operations and customers. Our first post explored traffic jams, unexpected order spikes, supply shortages and unexpected shutdowns.

We’ll continue our exploration of these disruptions and where Blue Yonder’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) helps enable resolutions that can ensure SLAs are met.

Too Many Orders, Not Enough Time?

The new website has been taking orders all day, but nothing is appearing at the warehouse, until suddenly, late in the shift, a large volume of “must ship today” e-commerce orders drop. What was a regular day is now a scramble to get these orders out to meet customer expectations.

Using Blue Yonder’s Luminate® Warehouse Execution solution, all the work in the warehouse is examined to determine how to meet the new demand without impacting SLAs. The analysis uncovers that the truckload orders are 8 hours ahead and automatically shifts labor to work on the e-commerce orders to ensure they are picked before the parcel carrier arrives. Once the spike has been managed, the labor is moved back to the TL (truckload) work. By analyzing work and determining the optimal assignment based on criteria, Luminate Warehouse Execution ensures a streamlined operation.

Unexpected No-Shows

It’scold and flu season. The warehouse has been unexpectedly hit with a rash of sick calls from almost half of the staff. With a regular level of work to be completed, supervisors must react.

Leveraging Blue Yonder’s WMS and Workforce Management solution they can assess the staffing needed for the day, with an understanding of the skillsets required for the specific types of work. They can then add the shifts and skills needed to the shift marketplace to allow available, but not scheduled, staff to fill in. Warehouse Labor Management, working in concert with Workforce Management, can assess and react to changes in labor conditions.

Handling the Uncertainty of New Suppliers

To address supply uncertainty, the purchasing department has expanded the number of suppliers across specific product categories. While the procurement vetting process is comprehensive, purchasing wants to be sure that these new suppliers are audited frequently to ensure that the quality levels are as expected, and that variability is limited.

To meet procurement’s requirement, during receiving in the warehouse, Blue Yonder’s WMS directs a defined percentage of products for each supplier to be audited. For long-time suppliers, this may be a small percentage, but for these newer vendors, the percentage can be higher. Let’s say that 5% of a new supplier’s receipts are audited. As a receiver scans a pallet/case from that supplier into the warehouse, there will be a 5% chance that an audit will be required. As the comfort level with these suppliers improves, the percentage can be reduced.

This efficiently uses warehouse labor while protecting the customer experience and limiting any downstream issues. The audit information flowing back to the procurement organization helps strengthen relationships with suppliers over the long term.

The Labor Shortage

While a longer-term disruption, the current struggle to find and retain quality warehouse staff continues to be a challenge. Warehouses are asking, “How do we improve the culture and productivity of the warehouse over time?” Not only is it a struggle to retain people, but it can also be challenging to determine who to keep.

Productivity tracking within the Blue Yonder’s Warehouse Labor Management solution provides details at an individual level, illustrating trends over time, progress against targets, and allowing for cross-training and personal time, fatigue and delay (PF&D).

Equally important, Blue Yonder enables observations. By tracking the coaching of employees through user-configured questions and answers, the solution monitors both the supervisor and employee performance over time. This helps identify which employees are improving, which employees are contributing, which employees merit extra effort to retain.

While the warehouse is often tasked with executing against the plans created farther upstream, the unexpected can and likely will happen. Leveraging Blue Yonder’s WMS, Labor Management, Workforce Management and Warehouse Execution solutions can be the difference between the right product reaching the right customer at the right time or missed orders, deliveries and SLAs.

Visit our Luminate Logistics page to learn more about Blue Yonder’s solutions for supply chain execution.