Warehouse Centric Supply Chain Management

Now that many have come to terms with and acknowledged the need to manage entire supply chains, a number of professionals are now searching about trying to determine the best way of actually doing this!

In the increasingly complex tangle of system types and methods, just what exactly is the best approach to implement supply chain management?

Well if you think of the supply chain as a series of veins and arteries moving product from source to consumer, then the warehouse is definitely the heart of such a system. And if the warehouse is the heart, then the Warehouse Management System (WMS) would logically then be defined as the brain.

Supply Chain Management in its basest form is the collection and monitoring of a multitude of transaction types involved with product movement and related exceptions.

Many of the approaches we have seen to date for SCM actually layer an additional “new” system into the current mix to perform this function. Our view is that to avoid duplication and the need for reconciliation, the functionality and utility of the Warehouse Management System (WMS) should be extended to carry out this important task in addition to the traditional receive, putaway, pick and ship tasks.

In so doing, the need to communicate these transactions beyond the WMS is eliminated, and the latest WMS packages web enablement features are well suited to the communication tasks required to receive/transmit info on tasks and exceptions inside/outside the warehouse and to allow other remote users to view the status of the entire supply chain or any specific order within it.

These capabilities can of course be configured to display such information on a “need to know” or “client by client” basis through the internet utilizing secure user ID’s and passwords.

Such an approach lends itself well to firms which provide web enabled ASP WMS and supply chain systems such as Radcliffe Systems who have integrated their warehouse management system into an ASP supply chain execution system.

Our conclusion on Warehouse Centric Supply Chain Management is that only the future will tell which approach is the most effective, but for a much “simpler” and more cost effective supply chain management implementation, this type of integrated methodology deserves serious consideration by logistics professionals as perhaps a first glimpse of the future SCM solution of choice.

Jeff Ashcroft

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