Leading WMS provider Indigo Software’s Managing Director Peter McLane reviews industry trends, new developments and the company’s achievements this year, plus outlines what’s in store for us in 2016.
What have been the major new industry trends and developments in 2015?
Consumer habits have changed and people shop frequently for smaller quantities when they need them.
Manufacturers of everyday products have needed to adapt the way they make, handle and transport goods. Increased competition from retail discounters such as Aldi and Lidl has created a shift towards a ‘stockless’ model, whereby lower quantities are being held in distribution centres because neither distributor nor manufacturer wants to be holding large stock volumes or having large stock values on the balance sheet.
For the warehouse this has meant identifying ways to use available resources more efficiently in an already busy environment. Adopting processes like voice picking, perpetual inventory management and finding ways to automate paper processes are essential and investments in new technology are quickly proving their worth.
What do you see as being the big challenges for 2016?
Competitive pressures will continue to intensify and the cost of warehouse space will increase, making smaller warehouses more common and increasing the level of pressure on warehouse operations. Big challenges will be identifying ways to gain greater cost efficiencies whilst being agile enough to provide an excellent service at all times. Increased use of automation will bring the challenge of ensuring these systems are integrated with existing processes to avoid duplication of effort.
Customers will be looking for greater traceability, to track batches of raw materials or finished products through the supply chain quickly. They will want to locate a product at any time and satisfy demands for quality assurance data quickly.
How should companies be responding to these challenges?
Before investing in new technology companies need to review their work processes and identify whether efficiencies can be gained by re-organising aspects of the warehouse. At Indigo our priority helping customer to improve their agility – having the ability to order and receive deliveries more quickly, track products seamlessly, operate a stockless model wherever possible and have a flexible and efficient outbound process.
What new innovations can companies expect from Indigo in 2016?
As part of Indigo’s strong investment in product, technologies and deployment, IWMS will be available during 2016 in the Cloud for organisations who prefer not to own or manage their own infrastructure.
Deployment in the Cloud will offer organisations much peace of mind through not having to manage their own systems, together with the ability to pay for the service as it is used, reducing significantly the up front investment.
What are you most proud of achieving in 2015?
This year has been great for Indigo, we had excellent feedback from customers in our annual customer satisfaction survey and hosted a very inspiring customer forum this Autumn. We also implemented a number of very exciting projects with new and existing users, which is further strengthening our reputation particularly in the food and drink, FMCG, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and chemicals sectors.
What events will you be attending in 2016?
We have a busy events schedule to look forward to next year. We look forward to meeting customers and new industry contacts at FoodEx, IMHX, Total Supply Chain Summit and IntraLogistex.
What technologies should we be looking out for in 2016?
Apart from increased use of automation to improve efficiency, we expect a greater reliance on supply chain execution systems to support existing warehouse management processes. There are three key factors behind this trend: the need to provide traceability and a structured audit trail, the need to improve efficiency and monitor productivity levels and the need to work more quickly in collapsed timescales.
Warehouses need to be able to fulfill more orders without increasing their cost (labour) bases and having supply chain execution technology is essential in allowing them to achieve this. In addition we expect to see greater integration with TMS systems, which allows the visibility and optimisation of the vehicle fleet to be manipulated to best suit the needs of the business
What will warehouses look like in 2016?
The warehouse of the future will be smaller and designed to store smaller quantities of a larger, more diverse array of products, operating with a faster throughout and turnaround time. In keeping with the desire for more traceability, scanning equipment to track items and verify their authenticity will also become more commonplace.
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