60 seconds with Ian Hobkirk, Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors

Modern spends 60 seconds talking to Ian Hobkirk at Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors about warehouse management systems today.
image

Ian Hobkirk, Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
November 01, 2012 - MMH Editorial

Ian Hobkirk, Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors
Title: Managing director
Location: Boston, Mass.
Experience: 19 years in supply chain, including consulting and systems integration. Hobkirk is a former analyst with The Aberdeen Group.
Primary Focus: Distribution center design, network optimization, WMS selection and implementation.

Modern: What is driving end-users to upgrade their warehouse management systems (WMS) systems today?
Hobkirk: There are really two different markets. Big, established companies that already have a WMS are modernizing their systems. Then you have up-and-coming companies that don’t have anything beyond an inventory management system. There are different drivers in each of those markets.

Modern: Can you give some examples?
Hobkirk: For the established companies, one big driver is that SAP and Oracle have come out with significantly enhanced WMS offerings. Those releases have coincided with a generation of CIOs that have already been through system replacements and are less willing to look at best-of-breed systems. The pendulum has always swung between IT and operations, and now it’s swinging toward IT. I still wouldn’t put enterprise resource planning (ERP) WMS on par with best-of-breed for complex distribution environments, but there is a lot of functionality there that didn’t exist a few years ago.

Modern: What role is e-commerce playing in WMS upgrades?
Hobkirk: It’s playing a significant role. Retailers are upgrading their materials handling systems. They need to do more complex things like cartonization, wave picking and cluster picking because their labor costs to do piece picking are out of control. They need more accurate systems. Maybe they want to manage more than one forward pick location for the same SKU. There are also factors outside of e-commerce that are causing companies to upgrade their WMS systems. One of those is the need for task interleaving and true “task-driven warehousing.” They’re discovering that a lot of legacy systems just can’t handle those processes. It’s not in their DNA.

Modern: How about the up-and-coming companies that don’t really have a WMS?
Hobkirk: For them, it’s harder than ever to select a WMS. You’ve had a lot of atrophy in the industry. Five or six years ago, you had a few large players, but you also had half a dozen or so mid-tier companies with large user bases. The large players are still there, but a number of the solid mid-tier companies have been acquired or are less visible. On one hand, the mid-tier WMS players have really improved their features and functionality, but there are also more vendors that are less well-known. It’s just harder for a user to figure out who they should talk to.



About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

The high-volume warehouse or distribution center that supports B2B, Omni-channel activities, direct-to-consumer shipments, and the Internet of Things all require a flexible and scalable supply chain in order to function at optimal capacity. The problem is that most of today's supply chains are made up of fragmented silos of information that compromise their ability to compete, be responsive to customer demands or seize new business opportunities.

As customers' demands constantly evolve, transportation and logistics (T&L) operations are being put under growing pressure to offer more efficient delivery services, while not compromising on customer service. Using findings from a research survey conducted among transport and logistics managers around the world, this report explores how a combination of mobile technology implementations for mobile workers, and process re-engineering efforts can elevate operations to the next level.

It's a fact - most best-of-breed WMS providers force you to pay every time you require a system change. Uncover five more dirty secrets many warehouse management systems providers don't want you to know. Download the white paper 5 Dirty Secrets of Warehouse Management Systems to discover these hidden truths and gain valuable information on considerations for evaluating WMS vendors.

Not Sure? The Whitepaper "Stay or Switch" Provides the Research Necessary for You to See How Well Your Provider Stacks Up!

Too many companies invest in ERP systems but do not achieve the business benefits they anticipated. Sometimes, the ERP solution never fits the way your people and processes work.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.