60 Seconds with John Reichert, Chair of Integrated Systems Solutions Group (ISSG) at MHI
Modern Materials Handling staff sat down with John Reichert Chairman of Integrated Systems Solutions Group (ISSG) at MHI
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Location: Charlotte, N.C.; Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Experience: More than 30 years of experience in warehouse management systems (WMS) and supply chain execution (SCE) software, including automation, design and implementation
Duties: The ISSG represents the software, hardware and services that support a fully integrated supply chain in manufacturing and distribution
Modern: What does the Integrated Systems Solutions Group do, and how does it serve end users?
Reichert: ISSG is a group that brings together end users and suppliers in a non-promotional environment where people can talk about issues, challenges and the direction the industry is going. Suppliers can talk about what applications you might use for a certain problem and end users can bring us the challenges they’re facing now and what they’ll need in the future as their businesses change.
Modern: When you meet with those end users, what problems are they trying to solve?
Reichert: I think they’re facing changes in their business model. That’s the whole change in distribution channels. They’re facing changes in geography and labor costs, where they need to bring these together to be much more efficient. And, they don’t know where to turn. Do they turn to automation? Do they turn to a software solution? What’s the best mix for their situation that is different from their neighbors’ situations?
Modern: How have warehouse execution systems (WES) changed the roles of WMS in the DC?
Reichert: There is a tremendous amount of overlap between WMS, WES and warehouse control systems (WCS), which makes it one of the most confusing spaces for end users. Since some suppliers present their solution as a complete package, they’re not necessarily making it easy for end users to understand. That’s one of the things ISSG is working on. We want to educate the industry. I think the end user benefits the most when they can leverage the advantages of each solution for their problem. That requires the supplier community to come together to provide the best solution for the customer and that can be a challenge.
Modern: We also hear a lot about the Internet of Things and Big Data. Where do supply chain execution systems fit in this emerging area?
Reichert: I think the effect of Big Data inside the four walls will be that historical analysis is going to merge with real-time information to proactively direct changes in the operations. That could be changing flows on the automation side or changing staffing levels by different functions in the warehouse based on real-time conditions. Right now, we can forecast how many orders ought to come in by hour during the day using historical analysis. We also know the history of productivity and equipment capacity. With real-time Big Data, we can bring all that data together to predict whether we’re going complete all of the work that needs to get done to meet the FedEx cut off time. And, if not, I can predict how many of hours of overtime work I need to meet the deadline. And, since I know the productivity rates of individuals, I could start to post a seniority sign-up for overtime so that the most efficient associates get to pick first whether they want to stay over, limiting the number of people I have to keep overtime.
Modern: What excites you the most about supply chain execution going forward?
Reichert: I think the continued escalation and capabilities of the merger between automation and user experience really revolutionizes the traditional job on the floor. The escalation is just so fast that you hold on for the ride.
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