More supply chain providers are extending their use of mobile solutions to areas like workforce optimization to realize even greater efficiency gains and cost savings.
For years, technology solutions have played an integral role in supply chain management. However, as competition intensifies and customer expectations rise, logistics organizations are starting to extend their use of technology well beyond the tracking of goods and materials in an effort to increase efficiencies and optimize performance amid changing market dynamics. This investment is expected to continue, especially in the area of mobile technology.
Recently, mobile solutions such as handheld bar code scanners, imaging devices, and ruggedized RF units have been widely used to facilitate data collection, inventory tracking, and material handling. As more supply chain and logistics providers realized the value of untethered technology, they extended their use of mobile solutions to areas like workforce optimization to realize even greater efficiency gains and cost savings. Labor typically accounts for more than 50% of operating costs and nearly two-thirds of that labor is directly responsible for driving revenue and delivering quality service competition; therefore, it makes sense that more logistics organizations are leveraging mobile technology to optimize what is actually their most valuable resource.
Many labor management systems (LMS) now offer mobile capabilities that enable employees and managers to stay connected and make more informed decisions from anywhere, at any time via a smartphone or tablet. These mobile solutions allow employees to check schedules, accept shifts, submit time-off request, and confirm timecards using their smartphone for greater flexibility and control. Tablet-based solutions let managers fill shifts, adjust schedules, manage exceptions, and approve timecards to keep up with management tasks whether they're in the warehouse, the office, or at an off-site location.
From there, managers use the resulting data, which is an especially valuable tool when it comes to workforce optimization, to monitor key labor performance metrics and spot potential problems while there is still time to do something about them. With real-time insight into schedules, availability, overtime, and performance, they can make fast decisions and adjustments to control costs and maintain productivity, quality, and service levels — no matter where their jobs take them. For example, if throughput is below target for the month for a particular distribution center or business unit, data analytics enable you to dig deeper into metrics like unit labor costs, order accuracy, and damage-free rates across pick operations, staging operations, and value-added services to understand what's going on — and why. Similarly, if labor costs are running over for the week in one of your distribution centers, you can figure out the source of the problem and make fast decisions and adjustments to maintain productivity, quality, and service levels.
Ultimately, mobile technology is supplying the industry with an unprecedented amount of data that enables organizations to improve operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience. In an industry facing volatile demand, shorter lead times, and rising customer expectations, mobile technologies are a powerful competitive weapon. Armed with actionable insights into labor costs, performance trends, and outliers, logistics organizations can stay one step ahead of issues to deliver perfect orders and achieve more predictable results.