Technology is just another tool (albeit an important one) much the same as your trucks, trailers, fork lifts - used to help achieve your goal of delivering quality services in a timely manner at a cost that is acceptable to both you and your customers.
Too often we see a blanket approach taken to the application of technology to solve complex challenges. For example, you wouldn't dispatch a B Double truck to deliver a small parcel to the center of town. Or use a fork lift to pick from a pick face. The same approach must be taken when applying technology to handle and dispatch freight. Analyze the type of freight and client requirements and apply the technology that best suits those requirements.
3PL warehouses work in challenging environments. They often handle and store a diverse variety of product. Each client will have very different requirements based on their product makeup and 3PL Warehouse processes and physical layouts differ from client to client. As such, the application of technology must also differ based on these clients' requirements. Why try and apply RF Scanning to product that does not contain compliant barcodes? Why apply Scan Packing for Palletized product? Why try and Wave Pick orders where each order has vastly different product makeup and is being released to the four corners of the earth?
Often the answer is 'because our clients tell us we have to use this technology'. What the customer really requires is their freight delivered in full and on time. If you deliver on fundamental service agreement requirements the technology or 'tools' behind the process become a non-issue with your customers, allowing conversations to focus on other touch points.
Using the wrong technologies for the wrong clients can often degrade performance and increase cost and it's the technology that often takes the blame. We have all read articles on the '10 Must Haves in any WMS' system and I certainly don't disagree with a lot of the views out there. However simply choosing a WMS that meets the 10 must-haves won't all of a sudden change your results overnight. As with any tool, its how you train, implement and ultimately apply this tool to your business that will result in the success you are looking for. And if the cost of utilizing these technologies is becoming an issue with you or your clients then perhaps this a good time to ask the question "Am I using the right tool for the right job?"
Mark Connell is Product Manager Warehouse and Transport for CargoWise®
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