The purpose of this paper is to illustrate an original decision-support tool (DST) that aids 3PL managers to decide on the proper warehouse management system (WMS) customization. The aim of this tool is to address to the three main issues affecting such decision: the cost of the information sharing, the scarce visibility of the client’s data and the uncertainty of quantifying the return from investing into a WMS feature.
The tool behaves as a digital twin of a WMS. In addition, it incorporates a set of WMS’s features based both on heuristics and optimization techniques and uses simulation to perform what-if multi-scenario analyses of alternative management scenarios. In order to validate the effectiveness of the tool, its application to a real-world 3PL warehouse operating in the sector of biomedical products is illustrated.
The results of a simulation campaign along an observation horizon of ten months demonstrate how the tool supports the comparison of alternative scenarios with the as-is, thereby suggesting the most suitable WMS customization to adopt.
The tool supports 3PL managers in enhancing the efficiency of the operations and the fulfilling of the required service level, which is increasingly challenging given the large inventory mix and the variable clients portfolio that 3PLs have to manage. Particularly, the choice of the WMS customization that better perform with each business can be problematic, given the scarce information visibility of the provider on the client’s processes.
To the author’s knowledge, this paper is among the first to address a still uncovered gap of the warehousing literature by illustrating a DST that exploits optimization and simulation techniques to quantify the impacts of the information availability on the warehousing operations performance. As a second novel contribution, this tool enables to create a digital twin of a WMS and foresee the evolution of the warehouse’s performance over time.
The authors would like to heartily thank the company Due Torri S.p.a. involved in this study. Especially in the name of Eng. Nicola Borghi, for his valuable inputs, his support and his willingness to cooperate in this research project.
Baruffaldi, G., Accorsi, R. and Manzini, R. (2019), "Warehouse management system customization and information availability in 3pl companies: A decision-support tool", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 119 No. 2, pp. 251-273. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMDS-01-2018-0033
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