ERP and WMS use continues to grow

The value proposition that comprehensive ERP or warehouse management software systems present to companies in the logistics field cannot be understated, especially if those firms haven't yet made the switch to modern offerings. The good news for the industry – and the supply chain – as a whole is that more businesses now recognize their need to evolve and are taking all the right steps to meet those goals.

The ability to oversee today's operations almost requires a comprehensive ERP or WMS platform, simply because many warehouses have had to expand significantly to meet demand from the e-commerce boom, according to the latest Warehouse and Distribution Center Operations Survey from Peerless Research Group. Nearly 2 in 5 warehouses nationwide say they are involved in e-commerce, up from more than 1 in 3 last year. Moreover, almost 1 in 5 say they handle omni-channel fulfillment, up from about 1 in 6 in 2016.

A closer look
At this point, 87 percent of companies polled say they now use a WMS system, up from the previous 83 percent, though that number includes legacy systems, the report said. However, it's worth noting that about 1 in 8 respondents said they're using cutting-edge platforms, up from 1 in 9 last year. Meanwhile, 60 percent said they use those systems to track productivity automatically.

"Overall, what we're seeing and what seems to be consistent with the study results is that there is more of requirement for speed and accuracy, driven very much by e-commerce expectations," Don Derewecki, a senior consultant with St. Onge Company, told Logistics Management.

Why it's important
When warehouses have more than one client storing goods on their shelves, the ability to keep everything straight is vital, and that's where WMS can have such a huge positive impact, Logistics Management noted. The added surety that comes with a broadly increased ability to keep track of every item within a facility is a huge benefit to both clients and warehouses themselves, and these systems – when coupled with diligent mobile data collection – can go a long way toward providing a crucial bird's eye view of the entire warehouse.

Further good news comes as efforts to modernize warehouses extend to workers as well, according to a separate Logistics Management report. The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) recently launched a logistics, transportation and distribution certification program that has already generated a lot of attention. In just 15 months, 1,000 industry professionals received the credentials, allowing them to be more impactful on the shop floor.

APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi told the site that the extreme interest among industry participants shows how more companies acknowledge that cutting-edge training has become extremely important, and the value it provides to employers on an ongoing basis is significant.

With these issues in mind, it may be vital for warehouses to consider not only modern WMS or ERP adoption, but also the other ways in which they can prepare themselves for the future of the logistics industry, even as it evolves rapidly around them.