Building a Smart Warehouse for Successful Distribution Management


In these times, operating a smart warehouse is as essential for business continuity as is having a secure work from home (WFH) environment for employees. Even as disruptive events continue to unfold – to which coming generations will surely analyze and discuss - it’s evident that not being digital in an increasing digital world could prove disadvantageous for businesses functioning without modern technology.

 What does this mean for wholesale distributors looking to leap to the front of the innovation pack by incorporating the very latest, and absolute best, in warehouse automation? Most likely, running a smart warehouse with advanced technology would translate into growth-inducing benefits such as: reduced labor costs, faster production times, better inventory management, increased productivity and efficiency, and the ability to operate with just-in-time packaging, customer collection services, and product customization, to list just a few benefits.

 The trends driving warehouse management software (WMS) development today mirror the massive technological shift currently under way, and while customer buying patterns are usually subject to volatility, the demand for a cloud-based WMS is more pressing than ever. We’re seeing increased usage of robotics in the warehouse, along with the need for an improved user interface, and a faster response to last minute orders. VAI S2K Enterprise customers are looking at the adoption of IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation as a means to create a faster and more streamlined process and to transform their warehouses. By adding robotics to help monitor and accomplish tasks such as packaging, sorting, and tracking, for example, our customers can enable their employees to gain the proper amount of time to finish other projects that require human surveillance.

 We’re also seeing a greater need for mobile-capable technology. VAI's S2K Mobile WMS has a very user-friendly interface that connects with shipping systems and drives more productivity. The application will immediately alert users of new orders needing to be picked, which also helps warehouse employees respond to and fill last minute orders. Our customers are seeing great results so far, even as they continue to navigate through and around the challenges of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Distributors today are using smart WMS technology to automate the management of inventory. Just-in-time inventory can help distributors decrease waste by ordering and receiving goods as needed, with the goal of reducing inventory costs. Distribution software allows customers to commit inventory at the time of order or picking, which increases efficiency and manages inventory.

Distributors may also need to look at user adaption in terms of new equipment. That equipment will carry up-front and on-going costs, and budgets may need to be adjusted. The benefits of automation and ROI however will offset any initial challenges such as training on the new equipment and labor availability.

 In today’s business environment, a smartly run warehouse is automated and connected to an ERP system. This will ensure that distributors have the right tools required to grow and thrive in a very digital environment. 

Pete Zimmerman

North American Software Sales Manager