Progressive Grocer - September 2017 - 114

Supply Chain

Warehouse Management Systems

"exploded" across the food industry, and
that has brought a lot of change in the way
business is done on the back end. "We're
seeing more frequent deliveries of fresh
goods, and often front-door deliveries in
Labor GainS
by syncing
the store, versus loading docks around the
WMS with labor
back of the store," he explains. "We see
management
this as a kind of segmentation within the
systems,
supply chain, as some grocers are taking
companies
are able to see
smaller, fresh items and moving them out
more visible
of their mainstream supply chain."
metrics around
These changes have ramped up the
productivity.
need for speed in the supply chain,
including the frequent replenishment of
fresh goods.
Don Klug, VP of distribution center management
for Penske Logistics, says that technology is playing a
key role in how retailers are adapting to these changes
on the back end of the supply chain. "One example is
having slotting as a functionality within a warehouse
management system," he notes. "So you slot your fast
movers, or items that need to get out of the building
as fast as possible, closer to the dock. Then, when you
receive those products, you can put them away more
efficiently, and the same goes for when you pick them."
Other newer, promising technology he
mentions includes a "speedline
concept," in which orders can
be picked in smaller quantities
"as we're seeing
for a particular store or for a
more frequent
particular truck route, as well
as task interleaving, which is a
replenishment
function within the WMS that
for stores and
allows the user to send tasks
more cold-chain
via an RF-based system, which
requirements, it
ultimately keeps forklifts full.
filters down to
Both of these concepts help to
the solutions side,
increase productivity, as well as
where we're working
speed to market and even labor
with customers
reduction, notes Klug. And in an
to design new
economy where warehouse workers
workflows and to
have been hard to come by, technolimplement them in
ogy's power to take over menial
tasks requiring accuracy has been
the optimum way."
particularly powerful.
-Mark Wheeler,
Zebra Technologies

114

The Mobile Edge
In addition to the impressive
features being added to warehouse
management systems, the hardware
side of technology is seeing some
exciting changes. Mark Wheeler,
director of supply chain solutions
- North America at Holtsville,
N.Y.-based Zebra Technologies,
says that "systems of reality," or
industrial IoT solutions such as sensors and analytics, are helping to drive

operational visibility at different processes, including
yard management for trailer loading.
"As we're seeing more frequent replenishment for
stores and more cold-chain requirements, it filters
down to the solutions side, where we're working
with customers to design new workflows and to
implement them in the optimum way," he notes.
"There's a major transition at the operating system
level from Windows CE to Windows Mobile to
Android. And there's a user interface transition
that's linked to that, in which we're moving to more
touch-oriented user interfaces."
In the warehouses, he sees a transition from
laser-based to imager-based scanner devices,
largely driven by the industry's enhanced focus
on food safety, and food traceability in particular, which warrants the need for tracking twodimensional barcodes and multiple barcodes at
case level and even at each level.
Meanwhile, more people are relying on wearable
scanning to confirm that they're not only handling
the right product, but also handling the lot number
that they allocated to fulfill from, he says.
For cold-chain requirements in particular, more
suppliers are integrating temperature sensors into
"smart tags" so that they can track not only the
temperature of products, but also the temperatures
that the product was exposed to throughout its
shipment, continues Wheeler.
This past April, Zebra Technologies rolled out
Smart Pack Trailer, an analytics-based solution that
provides visibility into how trailers are loaded, what
percent capacity is being used, what percent complete the load is and how to project the completion
time on a particular trailer. All of this information
is immediately available to the mobile manager in
the warehouse, he notes.
"These products are always on ... always looking
at processes and keeping decision-makers in sync
with reality," observes Wheeler.
"Reality" is the ideal word, since the need for
real-time accuracy and productivity makes grocery
distribution tech anything but science fiction. PG

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | September 2017



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