For which use cases is a cloud-based WMS suitable - 5 questions for Ralf John
Short routes, lean processes and agile material flows: in the field of intralogistics, absolute efficiency is the paramount consideration. In order to meet this requirement, System Logistics GmbH offers solutions that are highly automated. With one exception: an entirely new product that now goes in the opposite direction, where we have developed a special service for managing manually operated warehouses, which deliberately adopts a minimalist approach.
Warehouse management as a Service
The designation provides an unequivocal clue: in the shape of Warehouse Management System as a service, we will be offering a service with which manually operated warehouses can be cost-efficiently managed at need. This lean Topaz system combines a simple, user-friendly configuration with a utilisation-based pricing model. The target group is firstly small and mid-tier companies with a low warehouse complexity, for controlling every kind of warehouse process. Secondly, however, the cloud-based service also assists large firms who are bridging seasonal fluctuations with external, manually operated warehouses – and for this purpose are seeking not a highly complex, but a simple, fast solution for controlling their warehousing processes. Thanks to the plentiful configuration options for the users themselves, the service covers numerous application cases for inventory and process management.
Minimalist solution for manually operated warehouses
But why are the intralogistics experts developing a standard solution, although the general trend is towards individualisation? And why are so many clients looking for precisely this? Ralf John, Head of Technical Operations at System Logistics GmbH, explains the salient features of this service, and how complex it is to develop minimalist solutions.
Ralf John, how did this idea come about?
The original inquiry came from a prospective client who doesn’t really fit the profile of our traditional customer groupings. His problem was this: to manage a manually operated warehouse that he rents on a seasonal basis as simply and affordably as possible. We have developed a solution for precisely this purpose, and in so doing we realised that the issue repeatedly cropped up in our project business as well – and that with a simple cloud-based service we can fill a sizeable gap for existing clients too.
What gap are you talking about?
I’ll give you a simple example: due to vigorous growth, a beverage producer has to upsize his capacities, and decides to build an automated highbay warehouse. To bridge the waiting time, he rents from various providers external warehouses that are regionally dispersed. In order to manage all these warehouses, the client doesn’t need a complex, expensive control software package, just a simple and above all fast solution that he can use temporarily, and where he doesn’t have to make any investments in his infrastructure.
And that’s exactly what System Logistics GmbH is now offering with Topaz?
Precisely. During the development work, the need quickly emerged for a standard solution with slimmed-down functionality, enabling us to help both existing clients and an entirely new target group swiftly and responsively. The key point of the whole thing is its service focus: instead of simply providing a product, we support the client with a service for managing his warehouses – he can use it, with all the concomitant benefits, whenever he needs to, while for the rest of the time no costs are incurred.
Talking of over-engineering: during the development phase, System Logistics GmbH deliberately opted for a lean standard solution – why?
One of the paramount requirements was that the client’s staff must be able to configure the service themselves and adapt it to their needs – and this within a few short days. After all, experience has shown that when you actually need it, you need it fast. For us, it was precisely this that proved to be the biggest challenge: not to make comparisons with our mainstream business and seek to cover all eventualities by a multiplicity of functions, but to slim things down and ask ourselves: what is the lowest common denominator for managing warehouses – and what is thus the minimum requirement for our warehouse management solution?
So what advantages does Topaz offer the client?
The client contacts us at need, and we set up an account for him online, where several of his employees can log on – and he can get started. The system can thus be configured within a minimised timeframe by the clients themselves, enabling productive use to be commenced within just a few days. We’re thus offering a fast, cost-efficient solution that permits every form of inventory and process management for manually operated warehouses.