LOGISTICS: WAREHOUSING & DISTRIBUTION 2008 - WMS offers multiple layers for sophisticated supply…

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WMS offers multiple layers for sophisticated supply chains
By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTCustomer requirements can be daunting. When Reliance Infocomm Limited decided to target 7.8 million potential telecom customers in India for its Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) voice services, executives there chose a revolutionary distribution strategy that would require each handset to be shipped to customers straight from 35 warehouses across India.
The goal of the company was to expand progressively its optic fiber network and eventually cover connect every individual, home, and office in all 640,000 villages and 2,500 towns and cities in India—one of the largest and most complex information technology and telecommunications rollouts in history. To perform the task, Reliance Infocomm wanted to track, trace, manage, and deliver cellular phones to 7.8 million customers, 37 warehouses, and 8,000 retail sites in 50 days.
The company chose TNT India to perform the logistics function. That company, in turn, partnered with 7Hills to provide the supply chain IT solution and services. The reason: 7Hills’ eBizNET distribution system that provides customers a suite of solutions, including (important to Reliance Infocomm) the ability to provide a status update on every handset from the time it leaves the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) until it reaches a customer. The system also handles complex reverse logistics.
Today, 7Hills is recognized by industry analyst ARC Advisory Group for trailblazing and efficacious utilization of offshore resources.
“7Hills is leveraging the offshore development model better than any other company that I have come across,” states Steve Banker, Ph.D., service director for Supply Chain Management at ARC. “7Hills is also doing offshore software development and taking this model further than others. The power of this model is demonstrated by the extraordinarily fast growth of Indian IT firms that rely on it.”
ROBUST SYSTEMS
Without a doubt supply chain requirements can be complex and downright daunting. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) play a key role in realizing goals. With WMS still rather new for some companies, ARC’s May 2007 study entitled “Warehouse Management Systems Worldwide Outlook” indicates that the worldwide market for WMS should grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% over the next five years. ARC analysts base this growth on the need for companies to upgrade their WMS systems, and the emergence of WMS in new verticals and parts of the world that have historically not bought into WMS.
The market was $1,257 million in 2007 and is forecast to be over $1,807 million in 2012.
Not all WMS systems, however, are functionally rich. Many offer inexpensive basic systems. ARC analysts contend it’s these systems that are driving huge growth in Eastern Europe, China, and India. In addition, for many companies, improved warehouse and distribution center productivity remains a goal, not a reality.
According to a recent report released by the Aberdeen Group, a research and market intelligence firm, although many companies focus their warehouse improvement concerns on cutting logistics costs, six out of 10 companies surveyed report that they have not been able to lower costs in the last two years. A majority of companies have also been unable to reduce customer order cycle times. But those that have, analysts there say, do so because they are leveraging more technology, have better data visibility, and work harder at cross-training their staffs.
Without a doubt, utilization of every component—space, people, inventory and equipment—impacts the bottom line of every warehouse, especially over time. But by utilizing the latest WMS systems, a company can track data on every unit, and therefore improve the accuracy of every order and reduce safety stock; manage employees more efficiently by planning and balancing their workload and monitoring activities; improve cross-docking and flow-through capabilities and yard man

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American Journal of Transportation