Other Voices: Do I really need a Tier 1 WMS?


August 01, 2012 - MMH Editorial

Editor’s Note: The following column by Ian Hobkirk, the managing director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors is part of Modern’s Other Voices column. The series, published on Wednesdays, features ideas, opinions and insights from end users, analysts, systems integraters and OEMs. Click on the link to learn about submitting a column for consideration. We invite Tier 1 WMS suppliers to weigh in as well.

                                                                                  ***  ***  **
Do you really need a Tier 1 WMS? We asked ourselves this question recently and did a little research to confirm some thoughts that Commonwealth has had for a while on the subject.

Companies that are undertaking a WMS selection project often assume out of the gate that they need a top-tier WMS system and limit their search to a handful of these providers. Make no mistake – many companies with complex distribution needs and high throughput requirements may require a new WMS from Tier-1 provider. However, for companies with only moderately complex distribution centers, our research shows that the mid-tier WMS providers have been hard at work in recent years, developing features and functionality that can fill these needs.

Commonwealth recently surveyed three mid-tier WMS providers – two of which offer SaaS WMS systems and one which offers a traditional licensed WMS. (The SaaS model allows companies to avoid an upfront licensing fee and simply pay a monthly usage fee for the software). We asked them about 30 specific functionality points to see if these were now offered as standard functionality, and – perhaps more importantly – whether they have customers actually using these features and breaking them in.

We found that a number of features which were previously unavailable in mid-tier WMS are now solidly within these providers’ offerings. Some of this functionality includes the ability to cluster pick, the ability to slot the same SKU in multiple locations in the same zone, advanced lot control and serialization, country of origin tracking, advanced replenishment capabilities, and cartonization. There were a few features that are still not well developed by mid-tier WMS providers such as the ability to perform clustered put-away, task interleaving and some areas of movable unit tracking.

Our key take-away is that companies are properly advised to consider providers from a mix of functionality tiers in their WMS selection projects. The relatively large number of providers and lack of consolidation in the vendor community in the last five years gives companies a wide selection of choices that they should take full advantage of.



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 value of exports from America’s Foreign-Trade Zones increased by 13.7 percent in 2013, to a record-high 79.5 billion in merchandise exported, according to figures released by the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board in its Annual Report to Congress.

While summer may be nearing its end, the climate in the manufacturing sector remains very warm, according to the most recent edition of the Manufacturing Report on Business issued today by the Institute for Supply Management.

When publicly-traded Class I freight railroad and intermodal service providers issued second quarter earnings results earlier this summer, the topic of less than ideal service on the rails was a common theme within the earnings releases and question and answer sessions with top management at those companies.

Supply chain security provider Freightwatch International has released its semi-annual report on cargo theft in the Asia Pacific region for the first half of 2014, which contains some heartening news for U.S. shippers reliant on trucking, warehousing and retail.

FedEx Ground, a subsidiary of FedEx Corporation, reports today that a decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed previous rulings by the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in three class action cases involving mostly former independent contractors for FedEx Ground

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. Contact Bob Trebilcock.

Comments

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