Advantages of Automating Warehouse Management During Uncertain Times
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the challenges involved in managing distribution centers. Customers and prospects are looking to CognitOps for better visibility and decision-making to drive resilience in their operations.
Distribution centers have long been grappling with the continued acceleration of the shift to eCommerce, which presents challenges due to the variability in demand, and how this variability impacts labor, inventory and equipment needs. eCommerce was 15% of retail sales in 2019, and forecasts have predicted it reaching 39% in 2030. The current environment is likely to pull the transition forward, and other sectors, including grocery and CPG, will also transition to complex eCommerce operations.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new concepts like contact tracing, and has highlighted existing challenges like labor congestion, identification of bottlenecks, and the lack of effective optimizations deployed by current warehouse software.
CognitOps was built to automate decisions across the four variables that drive cost and throughput in a distribution center: labor, inventory, demand and equipment.
A client of CognitOps requested help with managing their operation with new COVID protocols. Instead of spending on expensive change orders to customize their legacy and best of breed solutions, they asked us for help. Through configuration and with available features, the CognitOps team enabled the client to quickly adapt to their new normal. The new features empowered the client with the following capabilities.
- Create staffing plans that reflect the demand volumes and profiles to be fulfilled for the day, week or month, reducing overstaffing and unnecessary overcrowding.
- Support workforce “groupings” to enable contract tracing and limiting moves between areas to within these groupings.
- Limit congestion in areas or zones to enforce the defined workplace safety protocols.
- Identify and prioritizing inventory that needs to be received or replenished based on current and forecasted demand.
- Recommend inventory positioning to help reduce labor congestion.
- Recommend order release groupings that balance order priority while limiting labor congestion.
- Release work in a continuous manner to reduce worker idle time and increase equipment utilization.
- Activate only the equipment needed to process today’s work based on predicted cycle times and work rates.