Attendees at the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) Technology & Operations Solutions for Warehousing Conference traveled to Chicago, Ill., to hear the latest innovations and strategies from expert information technology and warehouse operations professionals. The Expo portion of the event also gave guests a glimpse of the latest technologies and software systems to hit the market.A highlight presentation from this year’s event came from keynote presenter Jason Minghini of Kenco Logistic Services, LLC, based in Chattanooga, Tenn. During Minghini’s presentation on “Developing KPI’s & Metrics,” he reviewed the importance of measuring key performance indicators (KPIs), how to determine which measurements matter most, and what business conclusions can be drawn from the data. According to Minghini, the four most important KPIs to a warehouse-based third-party logistics company are: Cost per unit; productivity; turnover; and inventory accuracy. Minghini also discussed how trend analysis can give businesses a predictive edge on ways of improving efficiency and productivity.
During the “Small Group Breakout: 3PL Challenges Session,” attendees shared their biggest challenges and discussed ways of overcoming them. Common themes during the discussions included same-day delivery, custom retailer bar codes, new system implementation and training, and a lack of qualified IT professionals. Warehouse-based technologies and operational challenges existed across all companies regardless of size, location or business type.The “Managing Technology Change in Operations Panel,” with panelists Doug Williams, Ohio Logistics-Findlay’s Tall Timbers; Douglas Varga, Barrett Distribution Centers; and Howard Kamerer, WOW Logistics, shared strategies for growth management through identifying the right people and having them follow good processes. “CEOs make the mistake of focusing only on hiring the right people. They assume that the right people will define the new processes,” Kamerer says. Attendees were given an inside look at Kamerer’s hiring/firing/promotion process which includes a quantifiable rating system.
Emily Shorter from MicroStrategy shared interesting data about the prevalence of mobile technology and apps during her presentation on “Mobility & Data Analytics from the Mobile Perspective.” Data highlights included:
- Eighty percent of the population is mobile with 5.6 billion active mobile devices.
- Tablets are now outpacing PCs; and 72 percent of enterprises have iPads in use today.
- Mobile app projects will outnumber PC projects 4 to 1 by 2015.
Ashton Shaw, Sr. Lean Coordinator and Sustainability Engineer of Menlo Worldwide shared valuable information about Menlo’s sustainability program during his presentation “Going Green: Rewire, Recycle and Other Initiatives.” Attendees broke into groups to discuss their company’s current sustainability activities and new ideas. For example, one attendee shared an idea to create a company-wide incentive for recycling by placing all of the money generated from recycled product within the warehouse back into employee pockets. “It creates a culture of sustainability and holds people accountable when they benefit from it.”