The future of logistics: Warehouse Management System
One year of work and planning, one interdisciplinary team and one logistics system that improves processes across the board.
This is the world of logistics, an invisible world alien in the way it functions to everything else going on, not only at the warehouse itself but in people’s daily lives. Logistics is like the foundations of a building: you can’t see it but it’s the framework that makes everything possible, from everyday decisions to planning intended to last years.
This is the story of how logistics, an aspect of work that at times seems unalterable, began to evolve and take on another dimension. At the Neuquen basin warehouses, the logistics systems are now being digitalized, a process of metamorphosis culminating in the form of the Warehouse Management System, also known as WMS.
Currently, WMS is receiving the final touches, prior to its launch on the first Monday of June this year, when it will be installed throughout the sites to be using it.
"There’s no doubt that the WMS is going to be a milestone for the company," enthuses Santiago Maquieyra, head of the Neuquen Basin and Vaca Muerta Warehouses at Tecpetrol. “The system has been designed from the perspective of the logistics operation itself. It has a very high level of detail so that even the smallest movement that takes place in the Warehouse can be recorded and followed up."
This system, yet another advanced, automated star in the company's galaxy of digital products, is the ideal complement to SAP, Tecpetrol's most powerful computing tool which keeps vital areas such as Accounting, Finance, Operations, HR, and many others connected around the world.
The Warehouse Management System will be adding hundreds of functionalities and levels of detail to daily management operations, even producing instant information on the location of a specific item in the warehousing system. WMS is a key step forward for the company as it solves the complex issue of how to store materials: the system analyzes the best way of organizing items, anticipating the arrival of new materials, and handling future events such as materials in transit which are due to arrive.
Upgrading logistics processes in this way will improve stock visibility and overall warehouse management, as well as optimizing the resources involved. Some immediate effects will be increases in staff productivity, improvements to and optimization of workflows and spaces, as well as the synergy obtained between end-to-end production and logistics processes.
One year of work
The company responsible for installing the WMS is Infor, an expert in the design of systems for high-intensity operations around the world. Six Infor experts worked closely with a Tecpetrol team of over 20 people from areas such as Warehousing and Logistics with support from the IT sector.
“We chose Infor, which is included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant (an annual worldwide guide, which holds a very rigorous selection process to choose the best technology companies every year) as one of the top WMS on the circuit. The selection was made after a 6-month assessment process where the Infor system competed against other WMS,” explains Patricio Álvarez, a Logistics Systems Expert. He adds a very helpful piece of information to understand the way in which Tecpetrol’s technological ecosystem is evolving: "This WMS will be integrated with the new version of SAP S4 Hana and Coupa, which is our new supply system."
"We are currently at the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) stage, where users carry out the final tests on the product and accept what the supplier sent. Although this is a closed product, we’ve added several customizations, such as the names of the products, the commands, and the offices,” explains Santiago Maquieyra, going on to develop the concept of a soft landing: using Tecpetrol's own SAP terminology reduces the learning curve, which makes the process easier and more intuitive.
Another key point is that this doesn’t end here—it’s just the first step in a chain that aims to reinvent how Tecpetrol carries out all its processes, not only at the level of the Neuquen Basin but also nationally and internationally. "Deep down, we are reinventing ourselves," explains Santiago. Once the new ecosystem has settled in at the Neuquen Basin Warehouses, tests can begin with a view to installing it throughout the company’s facilities in Argentina. Santiago smiles, and shares his pride at the achievement and the future it promises: “WMS is part of something bigger: nothing will be the same after this!"
Tecpetrol is the first company in the sector to install this system, in accordance with its vision of constant innovation. Santiago concludes that “the WMS offers a model which has been tried and tested around the world. It’s not only about standardizing processes, as it’s ushering in a cultural change that embraces the warehouse concept and will also guide us in the way we do things in many different areas.”
This is the world of logistics, the framework allowing everything to develop and grow in synergy. It’s also a sector that is constantly looking at itself in the mirror, as there’s always one more step to be taken, another milestone to set.
The Warehouse Management System is hosted in the cloud on an Amazon server that offers the advantage that the system is automatically and directly updated.
Some of the many benefits that WMS brings to the company are integration with demand, stock traceability and visibility, reductions in time spent on administrative tasks, planning and monitoring of warehouse tasks, real-time information for the management of warehouse indicators, and a more sophisticated technological approach to and integration with other support processes, such as Supply and Maintenance.