The modernized warehouse has a warehouse management system, time clock, robotics, automation, and more. How does anyone make sense of it all?
The Need for Intuitive & Accessible Warehouse Analytics
Warehouse teams are in desperate need of data to drive their decision making, but current warehouse tools (WMS, LMS, WES) often fall short of the mark.
For warehouse teams where margins and the line between a “good day” and a “bad day” is razor thin, empowering operations staff with data has become increasingly important.
The Power of Key Performance Indicators
We've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of warehouse analytics and help operations teams save millions of dollars on their labor spend each month.
Without fail, when we initially engage with warehouse teams, our primary goal is to just bring together data from various systems to provide a common view of performance and core operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
Labor Efficiency & Utilization: Maximizing the productivity of your workforce is vital. Warehouse analytics enables ops managers to gain visibility into how efficiently their labor force is operating and identify areas for improvement.
Units per Hour (UPH) by Client & Product Line: Understanding which clients and product lines are the most profitable is crucial. Production control & planning analytics helps understand UPH for different categories and make informed decisions about resource allocation.
Employee Engagement & Skills: A motivated and skilled workforce is a valuable asset. Warehouse analytics can provide insights into employee engagement levels and skill gaps, enabling targeted training and retention strategies.
Financial Health of the Operation: Profitability is the ultimate goal. Warehouse analytics can help you track financial metrics, assess the impact of operational changes on your bottom line, and make data-driven decisions to ensure the financial health of your operation.
Bringing the data out of traditional silos not only lets operations teams speak a ‘common language’, it serves as a gut-check that helps teams rally around their most critical priorities.
Beyond Labor: Uncovering the Bigger Picture
One of the remarkable trends we’ve noticed is that as soon as warehouse teams get visibility into their operation, they crave additional insight. Armed with a newfound level of transparency, these teams begin to ask broader questions about their entire operation. Some of the most common inquiries include:
Forecast Accuracy: How accurate is our demand forecasting, and how can we improve it?
Operational Efficiency: Which parts of our operation are the most and least efficient, and what can we do to optimize them?
Systemic Issues: Are there underlying systemic issues such as inefficient processes, suboptimal layouts, or technology gaps that are holding us back?
Impact of Process Improvement / Change: What would be the repercussions of making a specific change in our operation, and is it worth the investment?
These questions underscore a critical truth: while labor management and cost savings remain top priorities, the underlying need is a holistic understanding of what's happening on the warehouse floor. Warehouse analytics equips you with the insights required to make informed, strategic decisions that go beyond merely cutting costs.
Current Tools and Their Shortcomings
Historically, the concept of leveraging analytics to optimize supply chain and warehouse operations is not new. Analysts have long predicted how advancements in Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and concepts like Digital Twins would revolutionize the supply chain. However, the biggest roadblock to realizing these benefits has been the tools themselves.
Most warehouse software is notorious for being clunky, expensive, and cumbersome to use. Even if an organization has implemented an LMS or analytics solution, most still resort to manual data analysis in spreadsheets or rely on dedicated analysts or technology teams to perform any meaningful analytics work. The real issue is that the individuals who need these insights the most—the frontline teams and operational managers—are often the least likely to have access to them.
Warehouse software should be easy, intuitive, and accessible to all levels of the organization. We've championed principles that prioritize user-friendliness and intuitiveness. By doing so, we've not only made analytics available to frontline teams but have taken it a step further by providing specific recommendations on how operations teams can create wins for the organization and its employees.
The true power of warehouse analytics lies not just in its ability to crunch numbers and generate reports but in its capacity to empower every member of the warehouse team: it's about making data readily available and understandable, enabling quicker decision-making, and ultimately driving improvements that positively impact the bottom line.
What Comes Next for Warehouse Analytics?
The potential benefits of warehouse analytics are immense. It's not just about cutting labor costs; it's about gaining a comprehensive understanding of your operation, uncovering hidden opportunities, and fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making.
By making analytics accessible and intuitive, we can ensure that the people who need these insights the most are the ones who can harness their power to drive meaningful change in the warehouse and beyond. With the right tools and mindset, the future of warehousing is one of efficiency, optimization, and continuous improvement.