Intelligent Warehouse Execution System (WES) makes lean pull-based distribution a reality

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VARGO®'s recent white paper discusses how intelligent WES simplify distribution center operations to make lean pull-based distribution possible

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VARGO® has published a white paper on how to make lean distribution a reality in distribution center operations.

Many companies use traditional warehouse management systems that require master control rooms to make operational decisions to manage workflow throughout the facility.

With the complexity that comes with requirements to incorporate e-commerce order fulfillment, the master control room approach is not the most efficient way to manage distribution center operations — which require rapid response times, flexibility to prioritize (and de-prioritize) the right work based on changes in order profiles and service level agreements and constant monitoring of operations. Intelligent Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) simplify facility operations and improve warehouse efficiency. These types of systems also react immediately to the ever-changing requirements and conditions that retailers face on a daily basis.

To demonstrate the differences between traditional operations and intelligent WES, VARGO®’s case study on distribution center operations examines the different operational management categories of labor forecasting, work planning and workforce deployment.

Under traditional approaches, labor forecasting looks at historical information and current work to determine labor requirements for future days. To simplify the process, an intelligent WES provides data to the forecaster about current work and historical work rates. The forecaster then analyzes the data to provide labor forecasts.

Work planning for traditional operations is based on determining how much of any particular type of work is required and forecasting labor availability. Workforce deployment requires real-time decision making and is addressed through various processes. Then, on-the-floor supervisors manage the deployment of the available workforce within a specific process.

An intelligent WES makes the process more efficient and focuses on deploying the total available workforce among processes.

An intelligent WES constantly monitors production levels of each of the processes. If the WES detects that one work queue is growing and another shrinking, it provides this information to decision makers to show them the imbalances in process production, giving them time to address the issue and — in some instances — it acts autonomously to adjust for and correct the imbalance.

In short, intelligent Warehouse Execution Systems do not require master control rooms to immediately convey operational conditions for making decisions. These systems constantly monitor the operational conditions and automatically act on it to aid in maintaining product flow. Such systems eliminate the entire work planning and sequencing decisions, reduce workforce deployment to a macro level and automatically incorporate equipment conditions into its decisions, truly empowering supervisors to focus on managing their people instead of managing workflow.

To view VARGO®’s COFE®: Intelligent DC Operations Management white paper, click here.

About VARGO®
VARGO® is a team of fulfillment and distribution center specialists with expertise in systems integration, distribution center process improvement, and specialized material handling equipment. For more than four decades, it has been working with retailers, manufacturers, wholesale and direct-to-consumer distributors to improve material handling operations. VARGO® uses its proven, pull-based methodologies to create intelligent solutions for fulfillment centers and is the only company that offers COFE® (Continuous Order Fulfillment Enterprise), the software that does for fulfillment what lean did for manufacturing. COFE® made history in June 2015, with the launch of the omnichannel fulfillment center at the American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., facility in Pennsylvania. For more information, visit

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Michele Lemmon
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Bart Cera
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since: 04/2009
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