In part 1 of the blog series, “Why Workforce Productivity for Third Party Logistics and Wholesale Distribution Can’t Just be an Operational Issue Any Longer,” we focused on organizational steps to be taken to improve workforce optimization. In addition to organizational steps, the way work is organized is also what drives efficiency and increases workers performance. Part 2 of this series will take a deeper dive into the importance of organizing warehouse work, as well as why utilizing real-time data to optimize warehouse efficiency is required.

Why Organizing Warehouse Work is Important

Typically work is organized in tasks, grouped by capabilities of the warehouse workers, available equipment, position of the warehouse worker within the warehouse and priority of the task. This is a rather static optimization process that offers planners and workers little flexibility to adapt their work schedules based on real-time events happening inside or outside of the warehouse. However, in order to serve today’s unified commerce world, today’s demanding customer expectations require different service levels from the warehouse.

Today’s generation task management has to be able to respond rapidly and automatically to all kind of external and internal events. For example, imminent changing buying behavior of customers (response to promotions), changing weather conditions, unexpected traffic disruptions, as well as warehouse internal effects, such as changing worker availability and damaged equipment. Warehouse managers need to be able to re-organize their warehouse activities instantaneously without affecting current activities, while simultaneously continuing to achieve high levels of warehouse productivity and maintaining personal productivity standards.

This way of working ultimately breaks with traditional warehouse concepts as grouping orders in larger batches of work to optimize performance (waving) or allocate large blocks of inventories to groups of orders, thus jeopardizing flexibility for late incoming smaller orders, which might offer better margin.

Utilizing Real-Time Data to Optimize Warehouse Efficiency

To be able to support these advanced ways of task management, warehouse IT requires the following components:

  • Real-time insight in the workload and available workforce performance in the warehouse
  • Interactive planning tools to automatically respond to events in and outside the warehouse
  • Data connectivity to all kinds of data sources (e.g. external systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) frameworks to gather relevant data to respond to)
  • Mobility framework to allow communication with warehouse workers and management to optimize workforce performance and provide instant insight in work activities, tasks, productivity and performance

With real-time insight into the workload and available workforce performance within the warehouse, organizations can increase productivity and ensure the right workers are scheduled at the right place at the right time.

Warehouses adopting this improved way of working reported the following benefits:

  • Overall improved efficiency due to better alignment and coordination of warehouse tasks
  • Smoother warehouse activity flow and less escalations, for instance for (emergency) replenishments
  • Improved flexibility and decreased warehouse response times

This is especially true in distribution centers for ecommerce, retail or high-tech (typical operations with small order sizes or minimal number of order lines per order dynamic task management offers improved flexibility and decreased warehouse response/throughput times).

The last blog of the series will take a deeper dive into how organizations can adapt to attract and retain highly qualified associates.

Why JDA’s Warehouse Workforce Planning and Performance Management is Critical for Optimizing Workforce Productivity for 3PLs and Wholesale Distribution

Using JDA Workforce Management solutions, you can optimize workforce productivity and create and sustain a high-performance workforce culture within the warehouse. JDA provides you with real-time visibility into labor performance before it becomes an issue. JDA’s workforce planning and performance management help solve additional problems in the market to better serve customers and provide a robust labor solution that delivers greater employee engagement, communication and retention. Contact JDA to learn more today.