Labor Shortage and the Rise Real-Time Visibility

Maximizing Labor Efficiency with Supply Chain Visibility 

Over the past 20-22 months, we have experienced worldwide disruptions that have altered and influenced lifestyle changes. With COVID-19 inspired Global policies in place, day-to-day routines for industries on a global scale had to change how they operate within the supply chain sector. 

The Labor Shortage Effects on Supply Chain 

As the pandemic continued and Stay at Home Restrictions were established, many began to re-evaluate their careers and professional positions, which created an influx of individuals starting early retirement. With the current labor shortage, organizations are on a mass hiring spree but are facing challenges in finding, hiring, and retaining talent. Goldman Sachs researchers led by Jan Hatziusworf estimates that these trends will last well into the year (2022) as nearly 60% of the labor force will not be returning. 

Some factors to consider are that individuals of working age and capability are becoming much more selective in which career path they are willing to consider/pursue. Many are finding alternative ways to make an income and establish financial stability and are choosing to stop working the traditional 9-5’s altogether. These variables, coupled with the competition from other industries like technology (remote positions have gained immense popularity) or health care, manufacturing employment has decreased nearly 400,000 from pre-pandemic levels, creating the supply chain labor shortage we are experiencing today.  

Despite the Labor Shortage, Consumers Still Consume

We saw disruptions in delivering goods and merchandise worldwide, from delays like the Suez Canal obstruction, slowdowns in China, and unloading in Los Angeles. With these disruptions and the labor shortage, employers are finding that due to a lack of visibility, they are having a hard time effectively managing processes, and unloading imports, resulting in slow delivery times and shipping delays rippling across the entire supply chain. Thus, organizations have shifted to keep up with demands, leading them to restrategize and reframe how to maximize their efficiency with their existing labor force, like adding new processes like pay for performance. However, not all organizations have implemented new software, strategies, or procedures to help increase visibility to their supply chains and deliveries, contributing to a 6.2% surge in the consumer price index. 

Rise of Real-Time Visibility - A Step Towards an Intelligent Enterprise

Although organizations have solutions to manage their inventory, labor, and warehouse operations, they continue to face challenges with increased velocity, complexity, constraints, and declines in labor availability, visibility, and opportunities for efficiency gain. Other organizations look to automation and/or robotics as a solution, but these solutions are difficult to assess ROI. There are great technologies available today that help with manufacturing, but rarely do these solutions factor in inventory, labor, or storage constraints and are limited with their ability to integrate between all systems involved.  

Real-time visibility into operations is the first step towards an intelligent enterprise. With the ability to monitor all aspects of a distribution network, users gain the peace of mind that they will be alerted to a potential issue before it happens; organizations can then proactively shift their focus to their customers instead of reactively responding to emergencies. Real-time visibility provides updates within seconds of an action into the warehouse; this is critical for distribution teams who need access to make point-in-time decisions about their warehouse operations, labor management, and inventory.  

Real-Time Visibility into Your Operations

At the start of the pandemic, when COVID-19 news was rampant, the lack of real-time visibility into necessary items like household groceries, manufactured consumer goods, and medical equipment began to show faults in the structures of the supply chain sector.   

With the urgency to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the country, one of the largest organizations in the world (the United Kingdom’s health care system) gained real-time visibility with Rebus. Rebus was implemented in three days and provided them with real-time visibility needed for the rapid and timely mass distribution of PPE.  

Rebus has helped various organizations gain control of their operations despite the constant worldwide disruptions. With Real-Time Visibility into your Warehouse, Labor, and Inventory, the Rebus Platform could be the solution you didn’t know you were looking for.  

By: Stephanie Alvarado

Increase Warehouse Visibility ~ 3 Reasons Why Rebus Is Better than Spreadsheets

Over the last decade, we have made strides in the way we operate and manage our supply chain. Innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and even analytics have changed the very way we work. We finally live in a world where we have more data than we ever did before and even though this can be intimidating at first, it is also very exciting.

As one segment of the industry leaps forward with the help of these new tools, another segment still relies on a rudimentary solution to do some of their most advanced activities. Teams across the supply chain are still using spreadsheets for everything from planning to reporting. While these were quick to gain popularity for being digital and easy to use, the processing power of Excel and Google Sheets has long since been surpassed as new technologies make it easier than ever to not only track but harmonize and react to data. Technology has leaped forward, innovating beyond spreadsheets into systems that make manual data calibration and consolidation a thing of the past. 

Like with any technology, change can be intimidating. It can be easy to stay with the status quo, thinking that even the slightest change can uproot years of work. Moving away from spreadsheets should be viewed as a life upgrade- a way to save time and resources that can be applied towards more meaningful activities.

So, let’s take a look at how Rebus, a real-time warehouse visibility tool is built specifically for a warehouse setting. Aside from being simple to use, fast, and able to process large sums of data quickly, The Rebus Platform outperforms spreadsheets by – 

1. Offering Stronger Visualizations –
This one alone is enough of a reason to move away from spreadsheets. One of the best features of The Rebus Platform is the ability to effortlessly visualize all your data across all systems and partners on to one dashboard. The platform gives you complete real-time visibility in to all operational metrics in a format that is easy to digest. Not only does this help with understanding the data, but these dashboards could also be shared live with teams on the operations floor to track performance in real-time.

Say goodbye to long mouse scrolls, clunky tables, and the spinning wheel – and say hello to colorful graphs at the click of a button.

2. Making Reporting Easier –
As easy as spreadsheets are to use and navigate, they make reporting on data exceptionally frustrating. Teams need to learn multiple tricks and tools just to navigate and extract the right data. This process takes away precious time in a warehouse setting that should be used in active management, operations, and improving the customer experience..

Rebus allows teams to seamlessly build operational reports based on pre-determined criteria. Teams can choose to track their data either real-time or historically (or both!) giving a holistic picture of your operations. It’s easy as 1-2-3!

3. Helping Build Customizable Dashboards –
When you use spreadsheets, most users get one standard view. However, not all users want to see the entire data set or at times even should be seeing the data set (there is such a thing as too much visibility!). Rebus lets you build customizable dashboards that can track both real-time and historical performance of any operational metric. You could build a manager view, a team view, a site view, etc. depending on your needs and share them accordingly.

This is helpful when dealing with multiple stakeholders from 3PL vendors to other internal teams. For Example, Kraft Heinz uses Rebus to share real-time data with everybody from leadership up to the transportation team. Everybody has access to same data but with different views tailored to their needs.

The Rebus platform outperforms excel spreadsheets any way that you slice the cake. As much as we have enjoyed the ride on spreadsheets till now, it’s time we upgrade. The future is Rebus.

By: Siddhant Nagpal

Improving the Employee Experience in the Warehouse

How Real-time Warehouse Visibility
Can Help Companies Make the Most of their Labor

Supply chains around the world are struggling to keep up with the growing demand. The world is running out of everything from chips to people. This drastic fall in the availability of resources is triggering a global shortage in times when demand is reaching record highs. As the economy opens and businesses resume operations, everybody is running low on everything. Supply chains are struggling to find new ways to meet supply and demand.

In this post, we are going to explore how real-time visibility can be applied in a warehouse to increase labor performance and productivity. The most successful warehouse teams leverage real-time visibility to proactively manage teams, track trends in productivity, and increase employee engagement. Real-time visibility into metrics helps managers manage better while also enabling workers to work smarter.

3 Ways to Hire, Nurture, and Retain Talent

The life cycle of any warehouse employee can be broadly categorized into – Hiring, Nurturing, and Retention. Companies can leverage different components of real-time labor visibility to specifically target different aspects of their employee journey based on their needs, helping them make the most of their people –

  • Finding the right people:  Even though most roles in a warehouse setting require no prior experience, there is still merit in recruiting a specialized workforce to help improve performance. Hiring based on specific tasks can help improve productivity while also allowing experienced workers to train and teach newer members. The Rebus Intelligent Labor platform lets teams measure, monitor, and track both historical and real-time trends in productivity and performance to help highlight strengths but also identify bottlenecks in processes. This allows managers to proactively assign work through the day to maximize productivity while also identifying areas where experienced workers can have the most impact. Rebus helps teams find the right people for the right role by hiring based on trends.
  • Nurturing top talent:  Nobody is perfect. Even the best employees need help, patience, and some form of coaching from management to perform better. Warehouse workers are no exception. Managers need access to real-time data to identify the employees that need the additional help, track their performance in real-time, and measure their progress.
    • The Rebus Intelligent Labor platform lets managers drill down to a specific employee to understand trends in their performance. Managers can build individual training plans based on actual employee performance and proactively coach them while they are working. Not only are engaged employees less likely to leave their job, but they are also more productive.   
  • Retaining the best:  Never underestimate the value of a well-trained employee. The best way to retain top labor talent is by developing programs that help them feel challenged and incentivize them to perform better. With Real-time warehouse visibility, managers have the tools needed to build programs such as a pay-for-performance program that rewards employees for higher productivity, especially during peaks and spikes.
    • The Rebus Intelligent labor solution can help companies retain high performers. When Conn’s HomePlus installed Rebus, they were able to institute a pay-for-performance program that saw their labor productivity increase by 9% in just a few months. With Rebus, it becomes easy for managers to build such programs that help them manage volume and labor better. 

The possibilities with real-time visibility, and Rebus specifically are endless. Rebus provides teams with the tools they need to succeed regardless of their end goal. The insights from the platform can be applied to increasing performance and productivity but also be used to improve engagement, foster a culture of continuous improvement, end manual reporting, increase collaboration and so much more. Real-time visibility is changing the way companies manage people enabling a smarter workforce. The future of labor is intelligent.

By: Siddhant Nagpal

3 Reasons Why Warehouse Visibility Should Not Be Overlooked

Warehouses are the most complex yet often overlooked part of any supply chain. Even though tools such as automation, machine learning, and AI are taking the industry by storm, these are no substitute for true and real-time Warehouse Visibility into your operations and create more data and complexity than ever before. Information, especially in the Warehouse, is power.

We have seen organizations benefit exponentially from implementing Warehouse Visibility. With benefits ranging from eliminating costly WMS go-live inefficiencies, faster LMS time-to-value, improving cost-to-serve, increasing customer visibility and operational efficiencies, and more. However, many of these organizations had (and many others will have) hesitations to investing in Warehouse Visibility. With the promise and popularity of other technologies, Warehouse Visibility gets easily overlooked.

Here are 3 hesitations we have heard and the reasons why Warehouse Visibility Should not be overlooked:

These high-level ROI statistics are just the beginning of an improved ROI. Our customers have shown us that ROI for Warehouse Visibility can be calculated in various ways; production & distribution efficiencies, risk reduction, increased customer satisfaction, integration with partner systems, and more. Who knew that 5% cost savings were just a quick implementation away?

  1. “Unsure about how it will benefit my organization / We don’t feel we have a need for it.”

    The data shows that although Warehouse Visibility was implemented into various industries, the use cases have been different and strategically prioritized based on each industry’s capabilities. With the ability to view all the data needed to understand operations, customize dashboards and views, and gain the proper insights to maximize benefits, companies can cultivate a culture of continuous improvement. 

  2. “Too expensive to implement right now.”

    Budget. Budget. Budget. With the world recovering from the adverse effects of 2020, the main focus of many organizations is maximizing profit and minimizing spend. We spoke with organizations that have seen tremendous ROI within months of investing in Warehouse Visibility tools, and here are the results:

    1. 47% of respondents have seen > 10% increase in efficiency
    2. 58% of respondents have seen > 10% increase in cost savings
    3. 100% report at least 5% of cost savings
  3. “We are concerned how to manage activity and scale.”

    We understand that some softwares have great capabilities but fall short when managing activity and scaling up with the business operations and goals. With a Warehouse Visibility tool designed with the end-user and goals of an efficient organization in mind, worrying about managing activity and scaling will be a mere memory of the past. No more long waiting times. No more manual tracking. No more fragmented data sources. Just a one-stop solution for complete visibility into business operations.

By: Siddhant Nagpal

We Surveyed 2,500 Supply Chain Executives about Their Warehouse Visibility Strategies and Future Plans

Accredited Blue Yonder Implementation Partner

Understanding Supply Chain Technology Solutions

When it comes to warehouses, a warehouse management system or supply chain execution system can be incredibly complicated. For a warehouse that is larger than 1 million square feet, the rules around how the product gets in, quarantined, put away, processed, where value-added services are applied; along with adding the complexity of data management for impressionable products, and automation – it can become convoluted if you do not fully comprehend the inner workings of how the warehouse operates. From an outside perspective, all it takes is a simple software to manage supply chain operations, but to a technical and functional expert, a warehouse management system is a world of its own.

Blue Yonder Accreditation Program

For Blue Yonder (previously JDA) to maintain a certain standard of efficient and effective partners, they developed an accreditation program. The program enables Blue Yonders partners with the tools and knowledge necessary to implement their technologies for customers. Individuals who want to enroll in the program and become certified are required to take an exam. The exam not only tests their level of background knowledge of technical and functional aspects of Blue Yonders warehouse management system but also requires the individual to have done at least two implementations of the newer version in their resume.

Becoming an Accredited Implementation Partner

Becoming a Blue Yonder accredited implementation partner requires an individual to provide information regarding their implementation experiences with Blue Yonders warehouse management systems.

To become certified, an individual must submit the following:

  • How many systems have they implemented? 
  • What customers have they done implementations for? 
  • What role did they take during the implementation process? 
  • What organization did they work for during the implementation process? 

Once Blue Yonder reviews and approves the information provided by the individual, they can move forward and take the required exam. To receive the certification and become a Blue Yonder Partner, an individual must score 80% or higher.

A Proud Blue Yonder Partner

Longbow has a reputation for hiring the right people and redefining what it means to be customer-centric. Being that the majority of Longbows employees have many years of experience running supply chain operations, it is part of the company culture to hire and mentor individuals to provide excellent service to customers. Obtaining the certifications and becoming a Blue Yonder Partner reassures that Longbows consultants are highly capable supply chain and IT professionals and continue to provide customers with expert knowledge of supply chain technologies.

By: Stephanie Alvarado

RedPrairie (now Blue Yonder) WMS Optimization Case Study: Accuristix

Find out how Longbow helped a leading North American 3PL dramatically improve system performance – enabling the company to host 5 times the number of clients on its RedPrairie (now part of Blue Yonder) WMS.

Real-Time Warehouse Inventory Visibility: Increase Your ROI

You have 35 different warehouses full of inventory. The inventory is constantly changing, moving from one location to another, and getting shipped in and out. The status of the inventory items changes from available to unavailable, and people adjust quantities up and down. Ideally, you would want to see what is going on across all your inventory – but without any real way of looking at it all in a single view, it can be excruciating. You either have separate warehouse management systems at each of the sites, or you own half of the facilities while 3PLs run the other half, and you have no visibility into their system operations.

Solution: Real-Time Inventory

We developed trigger points in our software, Rebus©, to track supply chain inventory changes. We can follow when items move, get adjusted up or down, and so forth. Having visibility to this real-time data allows businesses to display it on dashboards across the warehouses within the distribution network.

The top-down view of enterprise-wide inventory is a valuable capability that sets Rebus apart from any other supply chain management software. Especially when analyzing the way warehouse systems operate, for example, an ERP is at the top while the WMS is at the bottom, all the data feeds up. However, this approach leads to issues, because although the WMS’s are feeding the ERP, they are only tracking inventory items at the lot level or item lot stay, which lacks inventory details at the high level where it is valuable.

With Rebus’ top-down view, you can drill down to piece identification code. For example, if you have a case full of pens, you can track it down to one box and know that that one box is sitting in this case, on this specific pallet, in this exact rack. You now have access to that deep level of detailed information.

How does Real-Time Inventory Visibility Increase a Company’s Efficiency or ROI?

Inventory visibility increases a company’s efficiency or ROI in a couple of ways, mostly dependent on what you are trying to achieve.

Scenario 1 – Real-Time Inventory Reporting

You need to drill down to a specific level of detail to understand what your inventory is and where it is located; however, you have multiple systems. In order to gather the information you need, you are looking at plenty of manual work to determine what the disposition of your inventory is. This could mean having to open five different sessions of an application, investigate each instance, do an extract of the data, and aggregate it all into a spreadsheet. Then finally, you will be able to see what your inventory looks like – but is it in real-time?

This manual approach to reporting is time-consuming and unnecessary. With a consolidated view of real-time data into your inventory, any business can make quick decisions that can save them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Scenario 2 – Shift Inventory

You can shift inventory from one location to another. For instance, you can see in real-time if you have an abundance of one product that failed to sell, got damaged, or is to expire soon. Which allows you the capability of rather than eventually discarding it; you can make an informed decision on how to proceed. You could have the customer service representatives contact clients directly – offering the excess goods at a discounted rate or sell the products to a secondary market. There are a variety of tangible benefits you would obtain from having the view of real-time data on the products in your warehouse.

A keynote is that this data is in real-time because, yes, it is possible to gather this data in a spreadsheet, for example. However, that spreadsheet takes time, labor, and money to compile. Not to mention that the completed spreadsheet would not hold the current information by the time you look at it. Something may have already happened to the damaged inventory – the warehouse might have already recouped the items; that is just one example of why real-time data is so important and valuable to you.

Inventory Visibility & Quality Assurance

Inventory Visibility is a crucial component of Rebus. Also referred to as Quality Assurance, by having real-time visibility into inventory at any level, you can also view detail into products that are being released or placed on quality hold.

 

The Inventory Visibility/Quality Assurance dashboards were designed and developed because one of our Global Packaging Food Manufacturing clients was having issues viewing QA holds at the plant level due to data constraints with their systems. In essence, they put a hold on a product, but the interface would fail, and the hold would not be processed at the warehouse. This leads to unnecessary risks, such as – shipping damaged product to a customer, which could be catastrophic. Leading to a product recall that could damage a company’s reputation, ruin their customer relationships, and result in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost.

Rebus provides visibility into real-time QA metrics and data to avoid these unnecessary risks. By giving real-time visibility to all of the inventory based on lot number, location, and status, the client could easily identify at-risk inventory and prevent these issues before they occurred.

By: Stephanie Alvarado

Download our Case Study to Learn How Real-Time Distribution Center Analytics Helped Subaru Increase Productivity and Enhance Labor Reporting

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