Quick and easy access to your key metrics drives continuous improvement in the warehouse. By Padraig Regan

If the use of ‘data’ in my headline has meant that some readers have taken a deep breath, rolled their eyes and quickly turned the page, they may well regret it.

Today’s business environment doesn’t seem likely to improve any time soon. Conflict in Europe, continuing supply chain issues and labor shortages mean that understanding the key metrics around your warehouse operation, and how to improve them, is surely at the top of your agenda.

The days when warehouse operators, or indeed senior management across all supply chain organizations, were happy ‘for things to be done the way they have always been done’ have long gone.

The increased pressure to do more with less, to not only retain but increase profitability, is driving a need to understand how ‘things can be done differently’ to drive up levels of efficiency and productivity and retain competitive edge.

Using data for optimization

It’s all about the continuous improvement of your business processes so that your warehouse operations never stop evolving to be the best that they can be. The challenge for warehouse operators is that sometimes they just don’t know how to start to do things better. That’s where data comes in.

Data, especially when described in the context of ‘big’ data can be viewed almost as a ‘dirty’ word. Why? Because the perception is that being able to constructively use your organization’s data requires employing data scientists and data analysts, a team of data experts, to make sense of the captured data.

This is not necessarily the case. With the right solution, understanding how to realize continuous improvement of your business processes with small step changes becomes easy, without the need for data experts to tell you what your data is already telling you!

Defining key metrics

As with any new technology adoption the most important thing is to be able to start from where you are now, without having to make any disruptive changes, and to understand exactly how your warehouse operation is currently performing by measuring key metrics.

There is no need to get lost in measuring lots of metrics, it is important to focus on the few key ones that drive your warehouse operation. And, yes, it is now easy to do this. How? Well, you may or may not be surprised to know that two thirds of the warehouses in the world continue to use terminal emulation (TE) software to underpin their operations.

TE is important because warehouse operators who have taken steps to deploy solutions such as StayLinked’s SmartTE, now have access to today’s cutting-edge software platforms, like StayLinked’s Evolve, which has the ability to extend every telnet application. These platforms, developed using SmartTE, capture data around each and every task that is executed throughout a warehouse.

This data provides the visibility to understand how your defined key metrics are performing, giving a clearer picture of where changes can be made to drive continuous improvement.

The data is right at the warehouse operators’ fingertips. There is no need for complicated integration with business intelligence tools to reach it!

Measuring the data

For most warehouse operations the key driver is how quickly they can get goods in and out of the warehouse, so that is a critical metric to be tracked and monitored.

Equally important is measuring and understanding all the variables thatwww.staylinked.com impact this key metric, both positively and negatively. Understanding the performance of these workflows enables you to tweak them to optimize performance.

The data will highlight underperforming areas which need to be improved. For example, you may see that workers at ‘Warehouse A’ are slower than in other locations. Drilling down into the data could show that these workers are using older devices and access points are causing more interruptions.

Data visibility with low-risk changes

You can make small, and importantly low risk changes, such as providing training to workers, upgrading devices, or trialing new technology such as automation and wearable devices, etc., and then measure the impact of that change to gauge its effectiveness.

Padraig Regan

The data will highlight if performance has improved therefore, driving improvement of the key metric. It is possible to quickly roll back changes that do not drive improvement and leave in place those that do. Understanding what has and what has not worked helps to build confidence in data-driven decision making, driving the identification of the next target for improvement.

The right software platform delivers a low-risk, low-cost and low-disruption toolkit which allows the measurement of key performance metrics.

Visibility of this data and the impact it has on key metrics provides an accurate picture of how a warehouse operation is performing and drives continuous improvement of business processes. Warehouse operators can make data-driven informed decisions which ensure they are always focusing on measuring the critical metrics – those that affect the bottom line.

Don’t underestimate the power of your data – put it to work!

Padraig Regan is Chief Product Officer, StayLinke., a market leader in terminal emulation (TE) solutions for the supply chain industry, is headquartered in California, US with an innovation center in Oxfordshire, UK. Its no-code technology adoption platform, Evolve, is transforming how supply chain organizations and warehouse operations adopt new technologies.