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UPS, one of the transport and logistics bigwigs has teamed up with Softeon, a supply chain solutions firm, to come up with a warehouse execution system (WES) in an effort to make distribution centres smarter and efficient. This comes at a time when the world is experiencing massive adoption of smart technologies accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. The new system will allow faster order intake and fulfilment, that will enable customers to get their orders on time.

At a time when the competition in different industries is increasing, the adoption of the new system by UPS is timely and will change the company’s fortunes for the better. This competition is mainly on the technological front that every company in supply chain and logistics see as a game-changer. As the autonomous vehicles, the internet of things, big data and automation take centre stage in transport and logistics, WES is just one of the strategies to enhance service provision and increase performance.

WES enables the logistics giant to define specific requirements of the customer and ensure that the priority orders are automatically worked on leading to enhanced productivity. It allows the company to leverage the global warehouse network to increase speed and service delivery to the customers. Through this new system, the company can create custom or tailor-made and turnkey fulfilment services that can be outsourced to meet the needs of the customers. This new approach is critical in ensuring that the growing and ever-changing customer demands are addressed while at the same time ensuring the supply chain is capable of handling large transactions that keep fluctuating from one time to the other.

The Atlanta-based UPS will see an improvement in order intake fulfilment, allowing for as much as 50% productivity gains. With the combination of real-time monitoring technologies, the system will oversee enhanced fulfilment and clearing or backlogs as well as ease the identification and resolution of issues that may arise during the process. As organizations continue experiencing the shortages of labor, this approach would be the best way to go moving forward, considering the sensitivity of the logistics industry. Similarly, the increase in the demands as a result of the popularity that e-commerce has gained over the past few years will make the outsourcing fulfilment enhancement a competitive edge for customers.

The introduction of WES by UPS is among the new ways of attempting to modernize its operations by bringing in autonomous operations and capabilities. In addition to this, the company has also deployed autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in some of its branches to reduce the cost of operations and ease the delivery of parcels. With this new initiative, AMR will receive instructions from WES and will in turn work in collaboration with the employees who will pack the goods. According to the company, AMRs will help in dispatching orders dynamically while ensuring that there is a balance in the flow of inventory. This allows labor to be balanced for efficiency and the equipment used appropriately.

The investment in WES and other technologies comes at a crucial time when the coronavirus pandemic is straining operations due to the social distancing regulations. It will go a long way into ensuring that operations flow well even with restrictions in place. Its competitor, DHL, has also been doing a lot recently with regard to technology upgrades to ensure it matches the market needs and customer demands. One of the DHLs bet in this competition is the installation of Avidbots’ autonomous floor scrubbing robots that work autonomously in a warehouse. The robots will reduce the cost of operations while ensuring that the tasks within the warehouse are done efficiently. What remains to be seen is the next front of the competition and how UPS will edge competitors going forward.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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