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Halloween is right around the corner, and to celebrate, EVS has identified the top five warehouse monsters that can terrorize every warehouse and frighten even the most experienced supply chain executives to the core. Some of them have been around for some time, but others were created by new problems facing the warehouse in the 21st century. Even more importantly, see how to vanquish them.

WMS Frankenstein

When the IT department brings its aging WMS back from the dead, WMS Frankenstein is born. Lightning strikes and WMS Frankenstein, with its added bolt-on modules, clunky customizations and one-off features, rises from the table, growls a few unintelligible words and then stumbles off into the warehouse. What they didn’t expect was to create a monster — a warehouse management system that’s been tweaked and jerry-rigged to a point where there’s no upgrade path — forcing their business to revolve around its dead-end logic. Frankenstein WMS is so static and stuck in its ways that no new system features can be added or upgrades realized, and is completely unable to integrate with a new ERP. It’s only a matter of time until the rest of the company comes running with pitchforks and torches, and begs IT for a new WMS that does the job right.

Warehouse Management Systems 1.0 is defined by using technology within the warehouse in a monolithic, inflexible way. Warehouses with rigid systems often must add patches and customizations to piecemeal together a system to work the way the organization works. This stifles growth as an organization can’t respond to market changes quickly and easily. The advanced WMS that defines Warehouse 2.0 not only provides the integration and upgrade paths that make them dynamic in responding to changing consumer demands, but they also allow for incorporating new technologies that can help a warehouse grow and be more profitable.

Count Warehouseula

Thirsty for inefficiency, Count Warehouseula WMS sucks the productivity out of any warehouse through poorly designed menus, layers of key stroke navigation and an abyss of warehouse data that will never see sunlight again. After a decade of rooting itself into warehouse operations and IT, Count Warehouseula survives by hiding in the darkness. The only way to vanquish Count Warehouseula is to bring it out from the dark and into the light of a WMS armed with data analytics, artificial intelligence and warehouse simulation.

Today, in warehouses across the country, teams are using WMS that require users to navigate a myriad of menus and function keys to make the system work. Not only do these WMS’ provide a poor user experience and excessive amounts of training, but they also get in the way of actual work getting done faster and with less errors. While warehouses look to create “lean operations,” they should also look for a lean WMS that understands the processes of the warehouse and is designed to complement them, rather than combat them.

The Warehouse Walking Dead

After years of following the same processes and upholding operational status quo, the Warehouse Walking Dead have developed a taste for warehouse worker brains! This leaves the leadership blind to what is actually happening within their warehouse. Warehouse Walking Dead have no appetite for artificial intelligence, and a WMS with AI is at no risk of being harmed. In fact, exposure to a WMS with AI is the only way to prevail.

Most warehouses use a system that simply does what it’s told. The WMS has hard-coded rules, but relies on input from users to have any real value. It’s mindless and doesn’t provide the users with helpful information outside of the existing rules. Disrupting the industry are advanced WMS’ that can do things like simulate a warehouse to explore efficiency solutions before they’re implemented and use artificial intelligence to give insights and actionable recommendations to warehouse workers to improve operations. These data-driven warehouses have their human workforce and advanced WMS working side-by-side to increase productivity.

The Mummy of King Bricktunscanner II

After (seemingly) centuries in power, many hoped that King Bricktunscanner II — the monarch of clunky inventory management hardware — had passed on, but unfortunately the King continues to live on in its mummy appliance form. The Mummy of King Bricktunscanner II continues to terrorize warehouses by demanding most of their royalties to pay for outdated technology and repairs while stifling their productivity with its ancient design. The kingdom yearns for a new hardware commander that is both powerful, intuitive and inexpensive… Such as an iOS device.

The most common systems deployed in mid-to-upper market warehouses use essentially the same expensive, bulky and old-fashioned hardware that’s been used in the warehouse for decades. Meanwhile, the workforce is getting younger with millennials being the largest demographic in the warehouse. These younger workers are used to their smart phone interface and having one device with multiple capabilities. Using advanced consumer devices like iPhones and iPads not only provides additional functionality and improved usability, it also saves a lot of money. On average, the old brick scanners cost around $5,000 while a fully ruggedized iOS device is only $1,000. When you have 100 workers to outfit with devices, that’s real cost savings.

Ghost Inventory

You seem to see inventory in the warehouse. It’s in your peripheral when you drive by, and you can feel that it’s there. But when you go to look for it, it’s gone. That’s Ghost Inventory up to its ghastly tricks again. A seemingly small, almost friendly warehouse ghoul, Ghost Inventory is more trouble than most things. More than just jamming up cash flow, Ghost Inventory can be the costliest warehouse monster of all because it hurts the customer experience and the warehouse’s ability to hold up its end of the bargain. Ghost Inventory is usually found in warehouses with no WMS. Ghost Inventory is never seen in warehouses that have robust inventory tracking within the warehouse and individual worker accountability. 

Not knowing exactly what inventory you have is a problem as old as the warehouse. Inventory discrepancies can be created in many ways, but the easiest way to eliminate it is by additional layers of accountability and validation. Advanced WMS not only track inventory transactions but have advanced algorithms to determine the probability of inventory being off and interleave cycle counts into a user’s normal workflow.

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