August 21, 2015
Planning and execution are two very distinct activities.
Nevertheless, in the DC world inventory and planning systems (warehouse management systems – WMS) have often been used to drive execution of processes on the warehouse floor – that is, the actual work of moving products from point A to point B within a facility and ultimately onto trucks for delivery to customers.
The reality, however, is that even the most comprehensive Tier 1 WMSs don’t do a very good job optimizing work execution, especially when it comes to the complex, dynamic processes required in today’s multi-channel distribution and fulfillment centers.
As a result of the execution gaps in WMS and host systems, more and more DCs are seeking to improve throughout, efficiency, and productivity by installing other types of software solutions to sequence, manage and orchestrate the detailed material handling work performed by machines and people.
These execution systems take two forms.
On the one hand, DCs with significant automation systems have installed warehouse control systems (WCS) that optimize the sequence of work and manage the movement of products via conveyors, sorters, AS/RS systems and other automation systems – some WCS companies have started to refer to these systems as warehouse execution systems (WES).
These automated work execution systems typically work with the WMS, without duplicating core WMS inventory management functions. But there is still a missing link, both for DCs that are using automation and those that rely exclusively on manual processes.
Neither WMS nor WCS systems are designed to optimize manual, hands-on activities that still predominate between islands of automation.
For example, while WCS systems coordinate the movement of picking totes from one warehouse area to another via conveyors, they do not manage or optimize the work done by people picking items off the shelves and putting them into totes on conveyors or carts.
For that you need software systems that can optimize, sequence and orchestrate the detailed activities done by mobile workers. That’s exactly what Lucas Systems does: software to optimize mobile work execution.
Lucas has been known as a provider of voice systems that optimize hands-on work using voice direction and speech recognition (in addition to barcode scanning, device screens and other mobile technologies).
Beyond improving the mechanics of hands-on tasks, for all of our 17 years we have been providing application software that optimizes workflows and processes so that DCs could get the full benefit of speech recognition and other mobile technologies.
So instead of simply voice-enabling existing WMS-driven processes, our focus is on process optimization beyond the capabilities of the WMS or WCS. We supplement a DC’s inventory planning systems (and complement WCS systems) to optimize the work done by people.
That’s mobile work execution.
Related: The Missing Link in Omni-Channel Fulfillment: Mobile Work Execution