October 19, 2020

Logistics & Materials Handling

 Körber’s software team offers MHD readers exclusive answers to the common questions around warehouse management system implementation.

This year’s peak period presents a huge challenge for retailers and logistics providers alike. With record parcels continuing to move through Australia’s supply chain since the first COVID-19 lockdown. For the first time ever, this year will see the busiest shopping period of the year take place almost entirely online.

Underpinning any retailer’s ability to meet customer expectations is its capabilities in warehouse management. With customer service and swift delivery at the top of most consumers wish lists this Christmas, retailers have a huge task ahead of them.

Many Australian retailers have already been delivering record online volumes since March this year, including Australian cosmetics and beauty products online retailer Adore Beauty. With more than 220 brands, 15,000 products and a million transactions a year, its online-only model put the retailer in a great position to ride the COVID-19 wave of online consumerism.

In 2019, Adore Beauty invested in its warehouse management capabilities and installed Körber’s WMS solution, and as a result was well-placed to scale up to meet record volumes.

“Adore Beauty is very modern and fast-paced, we knew we needed a WMS that represented us and could grow with us,” Sarah Mullen, General Manager at Adore Beauty says. Since installing Körber’s WMS solution, Sarah says Adore Beauty is able to pick two to three times faster than before.

In this year’s Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for WMS report, Körber’s WMS solution was named a Leader. The system can scale up and be customised to the unique needs of small or medium size businesses, global enterprises and third-party logistics providers within a number of different industries.

It provides functionality, transparency and flexibility to revolutionise manual operations resulting in faster reaction times, lower error quotas, and offers optimal use of resources and shorter processing times.

Furthermore, Körber is committed to its customers success through every step of the implementation process. With capabilities in providing end-to-end service from discovery through to implementation and successful onboarding, the global team is dedicated to offering a high standard of direct implementation support.

Another Körber WMS customer is T2 Tea, one of the world’s largest tea retailers. In 2019, the Australia-based retailer experienced a 120 per cent growth across its digital channels and as such needed to rethink its WMS provider.

The Körber solution was originally designed to deliver over 10,000 shipments a week, which was modelled around T2 Tea’s busiest periods pre COVID.

“It’s certainly streamlined the e-commerce picking and packing process. We’re getting efficiency gains of 30 per cent for our e-commerce picks and for general replenishment we’re still getting around 10 per cent efficiency again even though the process has remained much the same,” Aaron Calleja, Business Analyst at T2 Tea says.

According to Rohan Penman, Global Head of Technology at T2 Tea, the key for this implementation was to achieve those efficiency gains around e-commerce. “This is where the business sees a growth channel and this software has opened so many doors for us around flexibility and efficiency,” he says.

The most common WMS question and answers
By Jon Kuerschner – Vice President and Jamie Sterling, Director of International Sales and Operations (APAC) at Körber Supply Chain. What are the main challenges with integrating a WMS within an existing supply chain ecosystem?

The main challenge in implementations is testing the integrations. This can be seen in several different scenarios – and it is an item to watch for and prevent during project implementations.  In some cases, the client may not have a test server or emulation capability to simulate the process and payloads back and forth.  In other situations, the customer may not have test end points for IP addresses on the mobile devices (i.e., voice and/or RF units).  That creates challenges on go-live due to fire-fighting network addresses when you should be focused on the people and processes.  However, these challenges can be easily overcome and prevented with good project management.

How important is a WMS in utilising the benefits of other technology such as RFID, automation, robotics etc?

The WMS orchestrates the overall solution. WMS creates work and the supporting technologies, such as RFID, voice and AMRs, execute the work and report back. To get the most out of the supporting technologies, you need a WMS to make the optimised decisions for material moves.

What is the true life of a WMS before it is considered outdated?

With legacy table and parameter driven solutions, the end of life is much shorter than you see with process-driven solutions, such as Körber’s Warehouse Advantage. With process-driven solutions, the client can self-manage change at the adaptability layer and still maintain an upgrade path. That extends the life of the solution significantly. We have clients that have been running Warehouse Advantage for more 20 years and have adapted the solution to their business change while keeping up with our upgrades and the DB and OS compliance/security. The WMS will evolve, and it is often the underlying tech that will cause a WMS to be end of life.

How important is integration of your WMS, both as a system and in terms of processes, with 3rd-party suppliers and vendors’ systems?

WMS does not exist without integration. WMS executes on the plan – and the plan needs to come from other client business systems such as OMS, ERP, etc. The WMS depends on planning systems for master data (items and vendors) and cxecution data ASNs and sales orders).

 What level of integration should you expect with your ERP or accounting solution?

Depth of integration is not an option, it is a requirement. The ERP solution needs to know in near real-time what it can commit to its customers. The WMS needs to continuously feed debits and credits regarding inventory position so the ERP/OMS solution can service the customer’s customers accurately with commitments to inventory and dates.  On the 3PL side, as billable events are created, they are typically batched in the WMS within an accounting period and then posted to the accounting system to create the invoice to the end client.

If cost is my main concern, what are my options?

Understanding your full total cost of ownership (and understanding where your return on investment will come from), are key in ensuring you are investing in the right solution. In addition, it is important to find a vendor that can deliver an on-time and on-budgetsolution that you can self manage without the need for constant vendor engagement.

 What kind of change management is required for this kind of project?

Grass-roots involvement and communication is key. This is dependent on the culture of the business seeking to buy a WMS. Change Management varies from business to business. But one key component is ensuring there is “buy in” from the top down. Success can only be driven if the business understands and sees the upsides. Ensuring the business is educated on what the changes will be and how these will benefit their day to day lives are a key milestone in ensuring a successful project.

What sort of timeline is common from sign off to go-live?

This is highly dependent on the WMS pillar, complexity of the customer’s operation and resource availability on the customer team. We have done deployments in less than three months; others have taken years. A realistic expectation is six to nine months.  These are systems that touch a lot of existing business processes, systems and people.  Allocate enough time to manage the change.

What does a testing period look like and how long does this usually take?

This depends on the complexity of the solution. A basic solution should be tested between 2-4 weeks. A complicated, highly automated solution could take up to 2-3 months to ensure a full Operation Readiness Test. Ensuring strong testing processes will have a positive downstream effect post go-live.

What level of service does Körber offer for its solution in terms of training and implementation?

We guide our clients through the implementation to ensure success. We also understand the difference between a system and a solution.  We work with our clients to ensure the final solution is scalable, accurate and dependable before we turn over the keys.  We also recognise that these implementations are also often the client’s opportunity to improve their business – beyond the IT side.

What are the most common issues that Körber’s WMS solves?

Supply chain complexity. Körber’s unique proposition is to enable its customers to have full ownership over their solutions. Unlike other vendors, Körber’s WMS provides the toolsets that customers can leverage to configure, develop and enhance their own solution whether it be on the cloud – or not. In doing so, this allows the customer to be more nimble, disruptive and more competitive in their markets and encourages them to be a supply chain trend setter. At Körber, our job is to simplify your supply chain processes by providing sophisticated – yet ease-to-use solutions that work every day, all day.

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