Most warehouses in New Zealand are only operating their Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) at a basic level of functionality and businesses, especially small to medium sized businesses, could do much more with what they’ve already got. That’s the view of TMX’s Associate Director Supply Chain, Mark Rummins, a 15-year veteran of the New Zealand supply chain and logistics sector who has worked for international heavyweights Fonterra and DHL.
WMS are commonplace in many warehouses across the country. However, according to Mark there needs to be a greater focus on optimisation, with many businesses missing opportunities to make the most of their existing WMS. Taking an in-depth look at what your current WMS is capable of can lead to greater efficiencies, faster fulfilment and reduced labour costs.
Typically businesses implement a WMS, receive instructions from the provider and are then left to their own devices. Often, there’s no tailored coaching to help them unlock the potential of their individual WMS within the context of their operations and little understanding within the business of how to maximise the WMS to its full potential.
Mark notes that anyone who already has a WMS or is considering implementing a WMS must also be mindful of their warehouse design, noting that the warehouse must configured in the right way to get the best out of the WMS. Examining the processes within the warehouse to understand where best to implement the WMS function can also make a big difference.
Mark encourages mid-tier businesses, especially those in the retail, industrial and manufacturing sectors to embrace the wide ranging functionality within their existing WMS. Optimisation is key here, says Mark. “There are a range of extensions to WMS, such as cluster picking and task and resource management which aren’t widely used but can have a huge impact on efficiency”.
Generally, larger organisations have a more functional WMS already in place, especially those in the FMCG market. It’s in these larger organisations where investing in a ‘gold standard’ tier 1 system can be a game changer says Mark. He gives an example of an operation where, through WMS and smart warehouse design, he was able to reduce the labour requirements within a warehouse, reducing the team from 35 people to 16. This represented a huge operational saving on labour costs.
“FMCG businesses are more likely to have a good WMS due to high velocity within their systems.”. While mid-tier businesses might not have the pressures of velocity, they are still missing the opportunity of harnessing WMS to its full potential, velocity or otherwise,” says Mark.
Mark encourages anyone in the market, especially SME’s, to seek independent advice. Whether they have a WMS already and want to understand the full range of its functionalities or are in the market for a WMS but aren’t sure of their business requirements, having independent external advice can help ensure your WMS is the right for your operation, whatever the size.
Whether it is the type and fit of the WMS, reviewing warehouse design to ensure it aligns with the WMS, or more broadly, looking at how to optimise your warehouse, TMX is able to assist at every step of the way.
Over the last 6 months our team have reviewed the warehouse operations of 4 businesses in apparel retail, hardgoods retail, spare parts wholesale and a hardware provider. We seek to understand the core processes, compare with industry standards, identify productivity opportunities with a specific focus on understanding how clients utilise WMS capabilities within their warehouses.
Collectively, TMX has over 50 years’ experience in warehouse operations. Our New Zealand team have undertaken over 10 WMS implementations and our APAC team have executed more than 100 WMS implementations worldwide.
If you want to learn more about WMS and how TMX could partner with you, get in touch with our New Zealand office.