Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

US and Japan alliance aims to boost warehouse management

Steve Rogerson
January 3, 2018
A partnership between US company JDA Software and Japan’s Sato aims to transform the future of warehouse management. The plan is to combine JDA’s warehouse and labour management products with Sato’s Visual Warehouse offering to help users take advantage of digitalisation technologies such as the IoT and big data.
This is JDA’s first Japanese hardware partnership as the company expands its presence in the country. The sales alliance will streamline the logistics process for those leveraging JDA’s and Sato’s products together. They aim to deploy the combination in five leading food and beverage companies by March 2019.
Japanese companies are facing labour shortages and increasing supply chain complexity due to rising consumer demands, which require diverse product lines to meet their needs. Meanwhile, Japan ranks poorly among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) nations (18th of 35) in terms of overall workforce productivity, even as nominal labour productivity hit a new high this year.
This highlights the room for improvement Japanese companies can realise by unleashing the power of data in operations. Only six per cent of large Japanese corporations use big data, and 48 per cent have yet to identify how to extract value from it. Among Japanese manufacturers, only 45 per cent use big data to drive operational efficiencies.
“Sato is proud to have been selected as a partner by a cutting-edge solutions provider like JDA,” said Kaz Matsuyama, president and CEO of Sato Holdings. “We hold a mutual commitment to open innovation and user-centric value, so I am excited about the possibilities of our collaboration. We will strive to bridge the last inch of our customers’ last mile challenges to design the ultra-efficient, IoT warehouse of the future.”
In today’s ever-complex unified commerce environment, companies need to do more than track labour productivity and warehouse processes, but to turn the warehouse into a performance-focused competitive advantage. JDA’s warehouse labour management product provides a real-time view into warehouse activities, improving planning and scheduling by ensuring the right number of workers with the right skills are available when and where they are needed to fulfil order demand.
And companies can get real-time visibility into labour concerns before they become issues and shift workers where they are needed. Companies can address real-world disruptions to drive improved performance and predictable results by sensing these shifts in real time to respond quickly and profitably.
The Sato Visual Warehouse is a virtual warehouse director that streamlines picking route navigation for enhanced logistics and labour use. An accompanying picking guidance system guides workers on the shortest possible route, with audio and visual instructions, to cut time spent and distance travelled per picking order by approximately half. The system allows inexperienced warehouse workers to achieve similar efficiency levels as more experienced workers.
JDA and Sato seek to improve warehouse productivity by enabling actionable improvements based on data sets of real, specific operational data. By logging individual workers' locations over time, the combination of JDA and Sato aims to enable collection of real operational data. Accumulating this real-time data in the warehouse and linking it to JDA’s product makes visualisation of labour possible, and empowers users to make data-driven decisions to streamline their operations, providing a claimed 30 to 40 per cent boost to operational productivity in the warehouse upon deployment.
“This partnership will tap into Sato’s real-time visualisation and tagging technology to gather all information in the warehouse related to labour efficiency that will improve productivity and take advantage of the latest cutting-edge innovations,” said Amit Bagga, regional vice presidentfor sales in Asia-Pacific for JDA. “As we expand our presence in Japan, we are best addressing Japanese customers’ demand, and leveraging Sato’s IoT capabilities, combined with JDA’s advanced warehouse management.”
Sato integrates auto-ID technologies and materials to tag and track items, ensuring inventory visibility for improved user experience and business results. For the fiscal year ended March 2017, it reported revenues of ¥106,302m.
JDA Software provides seamless supply chain planning and execution for retailers, manufacturers, logistics providers and wholesale distributors. More than 4000 users run JDA, including 72 of the top 100 retailers, 71 of the top 100 consumer goods companies, and 13 of the top 16 third-party logistics providers.