2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Survey: Ready to Confront Complexity

Survey respondents indicate a desire to apply more IT solutions and keep up on capital expenditures as they confront complex issues like bigger facilities, labor issues, high SKU counts and the growing reality of omni-channel.

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As it has the last few years, our “Annual Warehouse and Distribution Center (DC) Operations Survey” points to growing order fulfillment complexity, larger labor forces, and other challenges associated with e-commerce. However, the 2016 survey reflects an industry that’s not only well aware of these challenges, but one that’s poised and ready to do something about them.

From tweaking operational processes, to tapping labor as a means of flexing capacity, to incrementally applying more technology, the survey clearly indicates that respondents are in the midst of addressing omni-channel challenges. For example, capital expenditure (CapEx) levels have kept pace with CapEx growth seen in recent surveys, and workforce numbers held steady or grew among some respondents.

According to Donald J. Derewecki, a senior consultant with St. Onge Company, and Norm Saenz, Jr., a managing director with St. Onge Company, a supply chain engineering consulting company and SCMR’s partner for this annual research, a majority of the data points to an industry engaged in confronting omni-channel complexities.

“As operations requirements become more complex, companies in general seem to be coping,” says Derewecki. “E-commerce has been affecting nearly everything. Even companies that don’t directly participate in e-commerce now experience Amazon-type expectations from customers about rapid ordering and fulfillment. So the bar is set pretty high on requirements, and in response, the majority of respondents seem to be focused on improving their processes and the information systems support for those processes.”

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About the Author

Roberto Michel
Roberto Michel, an editor at large for Modern Materials Handling (MMH), has covered manufacturing and supply chain management trends since 1986, mainly as a former staff editor and former contributor at Manufacturing Business Technology. He has been a contributor to MMH since 2004. He has worked on numerous show dailies, including at ProMat, the North American Material Handling Logistics show, and National Manufacturing Week. He can be reached at [email protected]

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