Implementing WAMAS® in a manual warehouse

Digitalisation is on the rise also finding its way into warehousing. Unlike most Industry 4.0 images suggest, this (r)evolution is not always achieved via automation. Digitalisation also involves illustrating and controlling intralogistical processes in a software while executing processes manually. This task can be easily assumed by WAMAS, the warehouse management system by SSI SCHAEFER.

However, in order for WAMAS to efficiently illustrate and control the processes during live operation, a project is required to introduce a new solution in the customer organisation. The most important element behind a successful project is a dedicated project team and the associated project organisation, not only on the customer’s side, but also on behalf of SSI SCHAEFER. This team spirit is one of the key success factors in all customer projects of SSI SCHAEFER, if not the most important one. That’s why it is so deeply rooted in the corporate culture. In order to cover all requirements and responsibilities, the so-called core team consists of three departments: The logistics consulting is in charge of the creation, definition and implementation of the logistical solution. The software development ensures the technical feasibility and is responsible for the technical implementation. The project management assumes the overall responsibility for the success of the project and makes sure that the pre-defined project goals are achieved by an efficient internal and external coordination and communication. A quality manager reinforces the team and provides support in reaching the quality goals.

Standardised implementation processes ensure quality and minimise risks

A project always follows certain stages to achieve a goal, with important milestones along the way. After the internal project start and the kick-off meeting with the customer, the analysis stage begins, which ends with the acceptance of the produced specifications. After the (partial) approval of the specifications, the realisation of the defined adaptations of the proven and much appreciated WAMAS standard solution begins. Extensive tests on various levels and with different focus complete the realisation stage. In the subsequent commissioning stage, SSI SCHAEFER performs system tests under real conditions on the customer's premises, trains the responsible staff and hands over the system to the customer for the so-called user acceptance tests. After a successful approval by the customer and SSI SCHAEFER, the newly implemented system goes live. While preparing and performing the project acceptance, the project team assists the customer’s employees in carrying out the new processes. A transition period from the assistance by the project team to the long-term support of the customer and their new system by the Customer Service and Support finalises the project. This overall standardised realisation process ensures the adherence to important framework conditions. On the other hand, it ensures the holistic observation of logistical processes and simultaneously guarantees the highest quality by means of a perfectly tailored test concept.

How to manage changes correctly

The above described procedure is industry standard with a more or less agile response. What makes SSI SCHAEFER different from its competitors on the market, is its approach in customer projects. Things that are obvious in a highly automated project, might not be as evident right away when implementing a manual WAMAS solution. Far too often, manual intralogistics projects are only perceived as a simple software implementation. In reality, these are organisational projects, which can have a far-reaching impact on the structure and process organisation of the customer. That's why SSI SCHAEFER considers, how the WAMAS implementation affects the overall organisation in every project. This consideration already begins in the analysis stage, when also the specifications are created. The goal is to prepare the customer for the upcoming changes as early as possible and to mutually define measures on how to prepare, organise and carry out the commissioning and the go-live the best way possible. Example: Imagine a warehouse with paper-based processes,. using lists to carry out processes. With the implementation of WAMAS, these will usually be replaced by processes that are carried out on a mobile or voice terminal. Afterwards, it won't be necessary to print, sort and record thousands of pages of paper. Instead, there will probably be new positions in the warehouse organisation such as one or several control centers controlling and monitoring the warehouse processes. Moreover, SSI SCHAEFER prepares the customer for the new process compliance, which WAMAS requests from the user and which the organisation possibly has not dealt with so far.

The art of unlocking the full potential of WAMAS

Due to the well-prepared implementation of WAMAS, the customer can make use of a powerful tool to model, steer and control his logistical processes. WAMAS’ integrated reporting solution allows the analysis and graphical illustration of key figures in order to identify process deviations at an early stage.

About the author

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Gregor Girstmayr holds a master's degree in Business Project and Process Management from the University of Applied Sciences Vorarlberg. He has been working at SSI SCHAEFER for 10 years filling different positions within the company. At the beginning, he held the position of a logistics consultant and got to know the core business of SSI SCHAEFER while focusing on the implementation of WAMAS in manual warehouses. Afterwards he transferred to the IT project management department. In his new role, he assumed additional responsibilities and successfully completed several international projects. Since 2018 Gregor Girstmayr has been team leader for project management processes and supervises the IT project managers.

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