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Ask the Expert: Avoiding Disruptions

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Ask the Expert: Avoiding Disruptions

January 24, 2023

Advice from the Experts at Open Sky Group

In today’s supply chain industry, developers find themselves facing plenty of challenges.  From rising costs to the demand for labor, the list of disruptions just grows, with limited relief in sight. 

While some challenges are unavoidable, it can help to embrace the struggle and find ways to move forward. So how do you avoid the unavoidable when it comes to transportation, shipping, warehouse space, and labor, and investing in automation? 

Open Sky Group consultants dive into the tough questions in our first of many articles where we “ask the experts”.  The following discussion unpacks perspective and advice to executives wrestling with how to do more, with less, in today’s rapidly changing global supply chain.

Question: Given spiraling costs and capacity constraints, how can companies better manage their transportation spending?

Answer: “GET A TMS!”  But that doesn’t mean just any system, but one that fits what your operations need.  Understanding what tools and functions are needed and how to best suit your warehouse is crucial.  Pay for what you need.  At a minimum, your operations should get improved routing compliance, freight pay, and audit function (to make sure bills are being charged correctly). Your TMS should be helping to free up capacity in manhours to repurpose those hours to other functions more critical to the business rather than focusing on manual transactional activities.

Q: Shipping volumes are projected to increase over the next few years. Combined with labor constraints, how can shippers prepare to be successful in this new environment? 

A: The major growth is in e-commerce. That means additional labor will be required to pick more individual orders without some automation solution. Voice picking, high-velocity pick zones, robotics, and goods-to-person are some considerations. The right solution will be unique to the operating environment of your warehouse as there is no one size fits all solution.

Q: Warehouse space is at a premium; how can companies better use the space they currently have?

A: Much like the labor constraint challenges, look inward for opportunities. Can you relieve yourself of any obsolete inventory? Do you have slow-moving or excess inventory that can be stored in the yard? Is there space in your current location that can be better utilized either through consolidation or perhaps reconfiguring the physical locations? Do you have room to go upward? There are some vertical storage options on the market that might help.

Q: What is the best automation investment for warehouses? 

A: “The one that works”…while that is the initial reaction, this question is not easily answered. It is so unique to your environment. The key is to make sure you clearly understand the problem you are addressing. If it is service-related, perhaps the ROI is not as critical as it would be in a cost-focused improvement plan. The strategies that need the most focus include: 

  • Making sure that process and technology are aligned. Adding tech to a flawed process is a disaster. 
  • Getting your hourly team involved early and making sure individuals are communicating well, over-communicating is even better. It’s natural that your employees will have concerns and taking their thoughts into consideration will help them to understand how their jobs will be impacted for the better. 

Q: What strategies are most effective in dealing with labor market constraints?

A: The primary labor market challenge continues to be supply and demand.  There is an increasing demand for warehouse labor (close to 500,000 open warehousing jobs with an expected growth of another 500,000 jobs within the next 3-5 years).   

Focus on reducing the time needed to complete your operations order fulfillment processes. The trick? Look at your value stream map and discover what options you may have for reducing wasted time, such as the amount of travel time spent during your picker’s day. 

Concluding Thoughts

While challenges within the industry are not going away, the key is working to find strategies to overcome them and get ahead of the competition.  Reflecting on options and how they may affect your own operations is important, finding what will work for you and how you may be able to avoid the unavoidable.  

Looking to avoid today’s supply chain challenges?  Get Advice from Open Sky Group Experts. 

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Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich

CEO

Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.

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