5 Ways a Warehouse Management System Increases Supply Chain Resilience

Kendall Fisher, Global Video and Podcast Producer/Host

May 4, 2020

The warehouse is one of the most important, and often overlooked, components of the supply chain. More than a storage facility, the warehouse is the place where inventory, distribution and data merge. If warehouse operations go down, it can cripple a company, resulting in the inability to make products or fulfill customer orders.

Here are five ways to increase your warehouse resilience in the face of disruption, including how NetSuite’s WMS can play a role:

1. Real-time inventory and transaction visibility

Knowing exactly what items you have in stock, where, how many and whether or not they are committed to an order or a build lets you analyze your inventory at any given time and make adjustments to purchasing or production schedules to meet changes in demand.

2. Better control of the supply chain and quality

Many companies rely on outsourcing, or the use of a third parties for portions of their supply chains so that they can focus their resources on what they do best. For a true manufacturer this could mean using a third-party logistics company for storing and distributing goods, or a product-company might outsource the manufacturing process so they can focus on product development. In either case, you’re still vulnerable to disruption if you lack visibility and control.

This is especially true when a company is sending out, or drop shipping material that they actually own to a subcontractor for assembly. It's still very critical to have visibility into these assets just as you would if they were being assembled within your own walls.

With NetSuite’s new outsourced manufacturing functionality, you have the ability to drive the entire outsourcing process from either a single PO or work order. This new feature ensures there is proper visibility of inventory throughout the entire process and that finished products are put into the correct location once completed. 

3. Simplify and standardize processes and decrease touches

When it comes to both inbound receiving and outbound fulfillment, simplifying and standardizing processes increases efficiency and decreases the chance of errors. A simple, streamlined process is likely more flexible and easier to adjust when it has to respond to disruptions in the market.

A WMS system using putaway logic directs users through each step of the receiving process, ensuring the correct data is captured and entered into the system and that ultimately the product gets to its intended location. 

On the outbound side, NetSuite WMS picking strategy guides users to fulfill orders in the most efficient way. Wave picking and pick task generation logic allow for picking zone prioritization and enhanced sequencing using pick path logic. Additionally, the ability to pick by FIFO, LIFO and Preferred Bin, as well as pick to fill and pick to clean strategies enable you to dictate exactly how and when you want inventory to be used to fulfill outbound orders. 

Defining putaway, pick, pack and ship strategies simplifies these processes and decreases training time required to complete the job, enabling your staff to be cross-functional while easing the pain of bringing in contract labor, if necessary.

4. Increase metrics and alerts

Proactively identifying and responding to supply chain risks allows you to mitigate, or minimize the effects of disruptions. The NetSuite Supply Chain Control Tower uses Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics to provide alerts of potential risks and provide predictive scenarios to understand the impact of different responses on the supply chain. The idea is to give you an early warning system of when things might be in trouble based on multiple factors. Users receive an alert of potential risks, such as late POs, past due sales orders and transfer orders. The alerts are presented with recommended actions, and the recommended actions can be viewed as what-if scenario simulations, via the supply chain snapshot, to see their effect on the entire supply chain.

5. Mobile

A mobile device provides the ability to get out of the office and onto the floor without compromising access to real-time information of your warehouse operations, inventory and orders. Additionally, by equipping staff with mobile devices they are able to follow step by step instructions for completing processes and recording data as required in real-time instead of having to input it after the fact.

NetSuite’s warehouse management system—or WMS—brings forth all of these capabilities and more. It provides greater control of warehouse operations, real-time visibility of inventory and orders, decreases manual processes and increases flexibility. This enables business leaders to react, respond and recover to supply chain disruption—something we can all agree is more important now than ever before.

Tune into this episode of the NetSuite Podcast to hear about the big updates NetSuite has made across WMS and supply chain management, all of which can help build business resilience despite the unknowns as the economy reopens.

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.