Labour management systems may be one of the best-kept secrets in warehousing and distribution.
Labour standards and labour management software systems can improve productivity in labour intensive activities such as picking and putaway by up to 35%, according to Dan Gilmore, editor of the US based publication, Supply Chain Digest.
Despite these impressive results, “labour management has one of the lowest adoption rates of the traditional supply chain execution solutions, like warehouse (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS),” says Gilmore, who is publishing a special report on labour management in February 2007.
Why the disparity? Gilmore says there are at least three reasons why labour management has not kept up with the increasing demands and complexity of the WMS and TMS environment.
1) Adoption rates “Adoption rates for supply chain software solutions are in part driven by the marketing efforts of the software industry and consultants,” says Gilmore. “They haven’t put the same muscle behind labour management that they’ve put behind WMS systems.”
2) Optimising the process Many end users want to optimise their overall processes before implementing a labour management system. “There is some logic to that flow,” says Gilmore. “For instance, you wouldn’t put in a labour management system if you don’t already have a WMS but are planning on adopting one later. You want to have your processes in place first to get the most out of labour management.”
3) Lack of providers Gilmore says there are far fewer providers of labour management expertise, which means there is less awareness of relevant systems in the user community.
“In the grand scheme of business applications, labour management has fallen under the radar of the analysts and pundits,” Gilmore says.
Gilmore believes that’s about to change, as users in labour-intensive industries such as wholesale grocery and retail distribution are discovering the value of labour management for their facilities.
“There are now a number of prominent success stories out there and that’s driving other companies to see if they should jump on the bandwagon,” says Gilmore.
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