Not Ready for Automation? You Can Still Optimize Your Workforce

Not Ready for Automation? You Can Still Optimize Your Workforce

We all know that distribution and fulfillment (D&F) operations are facing more challenges than ever before. And most distribution center (DC) operators know that automation can help solve many — if not all — of these problems.

But automation may not be feasible for you just yet. Your operation may not have the budget for it. And if you do, you may not be able to get the equipment you need for a while because of supply chain delays. Or you may feel that your business needs to grow a little more before you’re ready to make that commitment.

In a recent On The Move webinar, we discussed the need to optimize your workforce when automation isn’t an option yet. Because the fact is, no matter what reasons make automation impractical today, you still have to deal with operational challenges.

If Automation Isn’t the Answer, What Can You Do Today?

Although many of the complications DCs face today aren’t new, a lot of them have worsened in the last few years because of a perfect storm of e-commerce expansion, a global pandemic, a shortage of skilled labor, and other factors. To make matters worse, you’re being asked to make a lot of decisions using imperfect information. That makes the information you can get more valuable than ever before.

Just how valuable? Getting the right information to the right people at the right time allows you to make better, faster and more accurate business decisions. That enables you to reduce your costs, respond quickly to changes in customer buying behavior, and improve the outcomes of your operations.

Getting the information that matters most begins with better visibility into how your facility is performing. The first step in reducing or eliminating operational bottlenecks is getting the data you need — or more likely, filtering it out of the data you’re already generating.

By leveraging this data, you can provide your customers with the insights and information their businesses need, in the most timely and consumable way.

In a recent webinar, we examined two essential tools that make these goals possible: warehouse management system (WMS) software and labor management software (LMS).


A good WMS should satisfy four criteria:

  • Provide inventory visibility and accuracy
  • Improve throughput
  • Enable real-time visibility
  • Automate critical business processes

We also believe a WMS should be highly configurable, so you can get exactly the system you want without paying for capabilities you don’t need, while staying flexible enough to evolve with your business.


The primary role of LMS is to optimize every labor management function within your operation. It does this by leveraging the data from your host system, thereby increasing the visibility and control that you have over your entire operation.

You can start seeing benefits from a good LMS package in as little as a few months. In addition to lowering your direct labor costs over time, it will also help you identify opportunities to invest in your workforce and maximize its overall productivity.

LMS packages can differ, but ideally it should deliver the on-demand intelligence you need to measure, manage and plan your labor needs. A good LMS should also provide visibility beyond last week’s performance, or yesterday’s, or even what happened on the last shift. You should be able to get insights that you can act on within minutes. Over time, your execution history can be used to predict your resource needs for the next day, or even the next week — calculating the precise number of workers you’ll need to run at peak efficiency.

Streamline Your Warehouse

If you missed the live webinar, you can still catch the recording online to learn more about how WMS and LMS can help you identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to your operation’s success, provide insights for improvement, and meet your team’s performance goals. You’ll also learn how integrating these two tools can deliver additional benefits, even if they’re not provided by the same vendor. “Optimizing Your Workforce When Automation Isn’t an Option Yet” is available on-demand.

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