Utilizing new technologies in a warehouse is not so simple these days and the IWLA Technology & Operations for Warehousing Conference on November 7 & 8 in Chicago, Ill., is just the place to discover what technologies will give you the best results.“Warehousing and logistics is a fairly low margin industry but high functionality-driven, and there needs to be a compelling reason behind the use of technology and how much will be saved with it,” says Kristi Montgomery, chair of the Tech/Ops Conference Planning Committee and vice president of Information Technology at the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Kenco Management Services, LLC.
There are a few challenges when it comes to finding the right technologies to improve operations in your warehouse:
- Deep dive analysis. If you haven’t invested in technology in a while or don’t track your productivity on a regular basis this can be an extensive process. Experts at Tech/Ops will dissect KPIs and metrics and identifying key metrics and bringing visibility to them.
- Identifying your operational problems. Once metrics are in place, understanding what the data means is not as clear cut as it seems. “It’s not always a problem that can be solved with technology,” Montgomery says. “Sometimes it is because of a processing issue or dysfunctional layout of the warehouse—those cannot be solved with technology.”
- Finding creative solutions with what you have. Experts at the Tech/Ops Conference know that the right solution may be right in front of you. “Warehouses will learn about different ways to apply mass market technologies to the warehouse environment like iPads or mobile devices, or using financial systems to track products,” Montgomery says.
- Navigating the new technological realm. Before you adopt a new technology, there must be a lot of understanding of what the technology does and how it does it. Montgomery states that a simple miscommunication between vendors and warehouses, or improper employee trainings, can result in bad results of a new technology. “We will discuss the critical process of defining the requirements of the system on the front end and seeing it in action in the facility,” she says.
- Implementation of a new system. “At the end of the day, implementation and training is critical to success,” Montgomery says. Getting employees on board with the new system, properly training them to use the system and making sure they understand well enough to adopt a necessary part of the process is a must.
Other themes from this year’s event include: Mobility and cloud-based apps, transportation tracking technologies that add new protections, voice picking and how they can be layered on top of existing bar coding systems and business continuity and disaster recovery processes during emergencies from both operational and technological sides of the spectrum.
Returning this year is the exhibition component that allows guests to engage with products representatives directly and learn about different solutions and their effectiveness on operations.
“I hope attendees will walk away with a sense of operational improvements that can be made, how they can make what they have sustainable and what can be applied to make operations better,” Montgomery says.
The 2013 Technology & Operations Solutions for Warehousing Conference will take place on Nov. 7 & 8, in Chicago, Ill. Register for the event at www.IWLA.com or check out the complete agenda. IWLA Partner Members may download the exhibitor and sponsorship brochure.