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Four ways labor management software makes the workplace more appealing to millennials

Every year, the millennial generation makes up an increasingly larger portion of the global workforce. Born between the early 1980s and 1990s, these individuals are expected to comprise up to 75 percent of workers by 2025. Millennials are characterized by having a unique set of employer expectations that differs greatly from the baby boomer and Gen X generations. Understanding the value of this current and future segment of your staff - and how to keep them happy and engaged - is vitally important. Labor management software (LMS) has a proven toolset that helps facility managers create a workplace environment in which millennials thrive. 

A recent Forbes article explored four things you should know about millennials to create an attractive workplace in their eyes:

  • They want to grow, even if that means growing out of your company.
  • They want a coach, not a boss.
  • They don't want to waste time on the little things.
  • They want balance and democracy. 

Let's look at each attribute and how LMS can address it. 

1. Provide growth opportunities.

The average tenure of millennial employees is two years, compared with five years for Gen X and seven for baby boomers. Millennials have demonstrated that they will change jobs quickly if they feel they are not receiving any personal benefit or growth. How can employers keep up? By not slowing them down. By providing the recognition and advancement opportunities that you can validate through labor metrics. LMS provides a way to fairly rank and track top performers to provide advancement opportunities to those employees who have earned it. 

2. More coaching, less bossing.

Millennials need an environment where they feel supported and valued. Through the ongoing performance and coaching interactions that LMS automates, millennials will receive the continuous feedback they desire through a less formal process than an annual or quarterly review. The more frequent feedback drives their confidence and engagement without alienating them to the process.

3. Help them understand their contribution.

LMS allows employers to directly link the role of an individual's performance to the overall business goals of the company. This helps millennials connect their contributions to the larger success of the company, ensuring that they understand the importance and priorities of the work they perform. LMS also automates several items such as: report generation, time tracking and the performance feedback process.

4. Give credit where credit is due.

LMS ensures that work credit is assessed accurately, commensurate with the quality of the work performed. By fairly rating the work against a standard - and not other workers - an LMS greatly reduces the potential for nepotism and other unfair practices that can arise. As a result, low-performing workers can be identified quickly for training or re-assignment while top performers get the recognition and advancement opportunities they deserve. 

To learn more about how an LMS can help you create a workplace that's conducive to millennial values, please visit the GoalPost® LMS section of our website

Wall-to-wall utility: Versatile put walls serve many purposes

Whether your DC relies on operator-to-goods batch-picking, zone-picking processes or an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), put walls drive order fulfillment efficiency by providing convenient demand consolidation points. But exactly where and how put walls should be integrated can vary widely, depending on the needs of your operation.

Typically, the upstream picking or sortation method used in a facility will determine the most efficient way to utilize a put wall. Here are four of the most common scenarios, organized by the level of throughput they provide.

1. Batch-pick

This scenario minimizes picking execution by allowing pickers to aggregate demand in batches. For example, 10 units might be picked, then distributed to 10 different put wall cubbies. Case picking, where cases of one SKU are picked and distributed to multiple orders, is enabled in the same way. 

2. Zone-picking

In facilities with designated product zones, this scenario allows batch or "eaches" picking to take place in each zone. Pickers send totes from their zones to the put wall, where items are then distributed and consolidated by the operator. While still a relatively simple process, picking efficiencies are maximized by breaking order line items into individual zone-picking tasks.

3. Mechanized picking

In this highly efficient scenario, picking is handled by automated storage and retrieval systems, shuttle, carousel or mini-load automation technologies, minimizing the amount of operator movement required. For example, if 25 percent of a retailer's SKUs come from an AS/RS system, these items are automatically batch-picked as needed and delivered to the put wall.

Put walls can also be integrated into the sortation automation process, allowing sorted goods to be conveyed to the designated put wall station.

4. Cross-dock (receiving to order fulfillment)

To expedite delivery of high-demand products, put walls can be deployed in the cross-dock receiving process. In this scenario, items are taken out of cases and distributed directly to the put wall. Orders are conveyed to a pack-out station once demand is filled at the put wall. 

What's next?

Most of today's put walls are designed with fixed, uniform cubby sizes. The next generation of put wall technology will enable customizable configurations to address the challenges of SKU proliferation and changing product and order profiles. 

By combining the ability to customize put wall cubby sizes (hardware) with user-friendly programming (software), integrated put wall and light solutions give operators the ability to modify cubby sizes to accommodate varying product and order profiles in the same put wall. 

Intelligrated is leading the development of these customizable put wall solutions. With user-friendly software that automatically configures the light-directed confirmations of the cubby sizes, our modular put walls allow DC managers to expand their operations without having to do major material rework to their facilities. 

To learn more about how Intelligrated's enabling put wall technologies can enhance your DC's efficiency, click here

9 ways modern pick-to-light systems increase order fulfillment productivity

While pick-to-light systems have been used for three decades or so, today's distribution centers (DCs) face omnichannel pressures that didn't exist when they were first introduced. In addition to the needs of traditional store fulfillment, DCs also face the challenges of e-commerce, including a growing number of SKUs, seasonal demand peaks and the high expectations of service level agreements (SLAs).

Unfortunately, most pick-to-light systems available today don't take advantage of abundant opportunities to improve productivity throughout the distribution chain. What's worse, some systems can't cope with the rigors that seasonal surges and other demand spikes place on picking processes - even to the point of failure.

Here are nine ways modern pick-to-light systems are keeping pace with today's fulfillment challenges - and anticipating the future:

1. Higher-volume picking - Modern pick-to-light systems are the industry's gold standard, increasing productivity rates by up to 50 percent compared to traditional paper systems. That's double the gain offered by voice and radio frequency (RF) systems, which average around 25 percent.

2. Less training time - Today's pick-to-light technology is intuitive and easy to learn. This reduces the need for extended training, while making it easier to manage turnover and maintain flexibility in your labor force. 

3. Flexible technology - Many pick-to-light systems can't adapt to rapidly changing order profiles, volume or picker workflows. Intelligrated offers the industry's most comprehensive hardware options to meet any DC's unique requirements. 

4. Dynamic shelf space optimization - Intelligrated's xD (extended display) ensures proper picking and slotting size, adapts to smaller SKUs, eliminates un-utilized shelf space and saves order fillers unnecessary walk times. 

5. Full system integration - Warehouse execution software (WES) software enables the seamless integration of pick-to-light with a wide variety of hardware, technologies and systems. This also makes it easy to respond quickly to hot or accelerated orders, which traditional systems often struggle with. 

6. Live monitoring and predictive planning - Real-time data allows DC managers to track individual work or zone productivity while optimizing throughput and responding to daily demand fluctuations. Historical data is used to properly allocate your workforce, evaluate shift structuring and look for new ways to maximize productivity. 

7. Easy troubleshooting - Onboard diagnostics report events in real time while generating a "stay alive" heartbeat signal, allowing problems to be pinpointed and resolved quickly.

8. Hardware durability - From pick faces built from aluminum or high-impact polycarbonate, to anti-vibration connectors and strict "burn-in" testing, modern pick-to-light components are designed to withstand the abuse of day-to-day warehouse environments. 

9. Bypass options - Backup options allow order fillers to keep working, even if a pick-to-light hardware component fails. The system software adapts immediately to prevent large-scale disruptions, often limiting outages to a single shelf. In the meantime, pickers can get the information they need from a separate display, RF device or voice system.

The tight integration of Intelligrated's pick-to-light hardware and software enables optimum workflow and simple scalability, offering your business a competitive advantage. 

New On The Move webinar: Your store is a DC. Get used to it!

Modern e-tailers and omnichannel retailers have permanently changed the order fulfillment game. Many customers have traded the in-store experience for online shopping, and as a result, brick and mortar retailers are struggling to compete. To support their customers' willingness to order products online (sight unseen), e-tailers have built their operations with a network of distribution centers placed in strategic locations. Instead of putting a store in every town, their distribution networks are enabling expedited delivery to their customers.

This paradigm shift to online order fulfillment has left many traditional retailers in an existential quandary. Many are asking, "What should I do with my existing network of brick and mortar stores intended to support an entirely different model?" The truth of the matter is, stores are still an important part of the customer experience; there's no substitute for being able to see and feel a product before actually buying it.

And for some customers, any delivery expectation is just too long to wait. The only way for them to fulfill that need for instant gratification is to physically go to the store and buy it. One method retailers are using to support this preference is by allowing customers to order online and then pick up the product at their nearest store. The only problem with this scenario is that some stores are unprepared or ill-equipped to efficiently deliver on this promise.

So, even though traditional retailers may not have regional distribution centers in every strategic location to enable same-day deliveries, they do have an opportunity to leverage their existing network of stores to their full potential. 

In Intelligrated's next On The Move webinar, Sean Wallingford, senior director of strategic operations from Intelligrated Software, and James Hendrickson, senior product manager, retail solutions from Honeywell, will explain how retailers can level the playing field by turning their stores into distribution centers - and in the process create a customer experience that drives brand loyalty. From receiving, staging and put-away to picking, packing and shipping, Sean and James will explain how stores can improve the tactical execution of their everyday processes to enable them to focus on strategic objectives such as improving the in-store experience of their customers. Attendees will learn:

  • The advantages of a physical storefront over a virtual one
  • The importance of "buy online, pick up in store" order fulfillment
  • The similiarities between DC and store processes
  • How to improve tactical execution to improve the customer experience
  • Why DC-like efficiencies are critical in stores

Register now to join Sean Wallingford and James Hendrickson on Thursday, December 15 at 2 p.m. EST for this important webinar.

Video blog: Executive InSights from the MODEX 2016 show floor

In the first Executive InSight video blog of 2016, Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager, Intelligrated Software, discusses Intelligrated’s vision for warehouse execution systems (WES). 

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