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Supply Chain Software Survey: Off the fence and into the future

Modern readers evaluate their usage of materials handling software technology, its value to their organizations, and spending plans for expanding and updating existing applications.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
May 01, 2013

Adoption and return on investment
Of the eight software applications covered in the survey, WMS has enjoyed the longest average duration of use, at about seven years. Nearly 10% of those with a WMS have had it for 15 years or more, and 42% have had it for less than five. When asked why they might evaluate or buy a WMS in the next two years, 46% of respondents said the purchase would consist of an upgrade to an existing package. Second most appealing was the concept of real-time control, in which 37% expressed interest, followed by inventory deployment (32%); labor management (25%); yard management (8%); and slotting (8%). A quarter of WMS users have upgraded the software within the past year, and roughly the same number last upgraded 10 or 15 years ago.

For many companies, says Hill, a reasonably robust WMS provides a good deal of labor management and slotting functionality, which is a valid reason to go forward first with a new or upgraded WMS before assessing the need for a standalone labor management system (LMS) or slotting modules. Even those operations without the need for a WMS might benefit from some basic slotting software, says Hill, who adds that the benefits of intelligently deploying inventory can be huge. Of those who already use slotting software: 35% re-slot quarterly, 19% every six months, 27% annually, and 19% less often.

Supply chain management and planning (SCMP) software is being used for the following primary goals: demand planning (61%), inventory visibility (58%), procurement (54%), order management (53%), manufacturing (46%), and collaboration with vendors and suppliers (37%).
In tracking recent growth among each application type, the number of readers who have had their software for less than a year rank as follows: WCS (8.7%), WMS (8%), LMS (7%), asset tracking (6%), SCMP (6%), TMS (4.4%), YMS (0%).

When it comes to investing in software, setting goals and benchmarks at the outset is critical, says Hill. Yet between 30% and 40% or respondents report that they have either not yet achieved a return on investment (ROI) or don’t know. For those who have tracked their results, each application takes an average of about 13 months to produce an ROI. WCS, for example, produced an ROI within a year for nearly 30% of respondents while asset tracking solutions produced a one-year ROI for just 23% of respondents.

About the Author

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Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


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