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Managing their warehouses tops the priority list of managers. A well-managed warehouse is the key to achieving operational efficiency in supply chain and can help speed up order fulfillment while reducing operational costs.

Earlier businesses used to rely heavily on pen and paper systems to operate their warehouses. These inefficient systems were highly prone to errors. When competition came knocking at their doors, companies realized the drawbacks of manual systems and started replacing them with highly-advanced warehouse management systems.

Types of WMS

Warehouse management systems can be categorized into three groups – Standalone, cloud-based, and solutions offered as a module of an ERP system.

Standalone systems

 

A traditional standalone system is deployed on the business’s network and hardware. These must be integrated with other business management software used by the firm, which is a challenging task.

Some problems encountered by integration teams include information delays, duplicate data entry, and interface issues. Although the long-term ownership cost of these systems is quite low, they lack many benefits of a more integrated WMS.

Cloud-based systems

A cloud WMS is a web-based software as a service model utilizing cloud technology. Some substantial benefits of these systems include superior flexibility, scalability, high security, and disaster recovery options.

A cloud-based WMS receives automatic security and other updates without the need to additionally invest in expensive hardware and software.

 

Systems offered as ERP module

Some vendors offer WMS as a module of their ERP system. These type of systems provide embedded accounting, sales orders, shipping management, and EDI.

WMS frequently asked questions

 

Q: What to know about WMS?

 

A: A warehouse management system is designed to support different functions related to warehouse management. Early versions of WMS were only capable of simple functions such as providing location storage information. Modern systems can do much more than this. Advanced systems can help users identify best picking, packing, and shipping practices and can even provide coordinate interactions with material-handling devices.

A WMS can assist warehouse managers in their daily planning, organizing, and staffing. Furthermore, a warehouse management software is designed to quicken material handling and movement tasks.

Q: What are the benefits of a WMS?

A: Some benefits of a warehouse management system include the following:

  • Helps streamline warehouse processes
  • Provides real-time access to reliable data that provide insights into various trends, helping improve visibility throughout your supply chain.
  • Improved customer experience
  • Avoids demand forecasting errors
  • Optimizes warehouse layout
  • Better inventory and pick accuracy
  • Efficient allocation helps reduce labor costs
  • Speeds up the picking process
  • Helps improve warehouse flexibility and responsiveness
  • Better warehouse security and safety

Q: What are the features of a WMS?

A: Some features common to WMS products are as follows:

Warehouse design 

Warehouse management systems are designed to help warehouse management teams customize workflow and picking logic. This ensures that the warehouse welcomes optimized inventory allocation. WMS establishes bin slotting, thereby maximizing storage space and improving the business’s responsiveness to demand fluctuations.

Labor management

WMS allows managers to use KPIs to track employee performance. A WMS generates a plethora of data that managers can use to predict workforce requirements and set incentives.

Shipping

Warehouse management systems have built-in features that enable them to send bills-of-lading ahead of shipments. An advanced WMS can also generate invoices and packing lists for shipments along with advanced notifications.

Reporting function

Warehouse management systems can generate critical reports, helping managers monitor the performance of the system and identify areas for improvement.

Q: What are the two most common WMS integrations?

A: Two most common WMS integrations include ERP and SCM.

The objective of integrating WMS with ERP is to eliminate manual processes and centralize systems to ensure data from different processes is available at one place. This does away with manual data entry and enhances data security.

SCM integration provides visibility into customer interactions and experiences and generates insights that your managers can use to come up with a strategy to improve customer experiences. Integrating SCM with WMS can also help your teams track orders and view what happened with them.

Q: When to opt for a WMS?

A: Opt for a WMS if

  • Your team is investing too much efforts in handling inventory. Manual handling is not only time-consuming but also increases the chances of your employees getting injured
  • You receive too many shipping complaints
  • You are quickly running out of storage space
  • You don’t have a system to evaluate employee performance in place
  • Your warehouse can’t keep up with the increasing demands of your expanding business
  • Your have painstakingly slow processes that are impacting order fulfillment

Q: What factors impact the cost of a WMS?

A: Some factors that impact the cost of a WMS are:

  • License fee (upfront fee vs ongoing annual maintenance fee)
  • Hardware cost (hardware that you may require include label and laser printers, voice devices, and material handling equipment)
  • Internal costs (of your implementation team)
  • Implementation fee

Q: How to ensure flawless WMS implementation?

A: Follow these tips to ensure your implementation project is a roaring success:

  • Create a specialized implementation team
  • Forecast your implementation costs
  • Counter resistance to change by training your staff
  • Perform data backup and migration tasks

Additionally, see the Top Factors for Selecting and Implementing WMS.