Warehouse Management System (WMS)
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution designed to manage the warehouse or distribution centre efficiently. It can be entirely standalone or work in conjunction with various other software systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.
WMS is a non-negotiable requirement for warehouse management. Every day new products are flooding the marketplace and customers are demanding both old and new products. Products lifetime is also reducing a lot.
WMS help in planning, organizing, and utilization of available resources in ensuring to move and store materials into, within, and out of a warehouse and performance of movement and storage in and around a warehouse. Organization helps not only in putting everything in its place. It also helps in reducing the time, and efforts to locate the product, and increases the accuracy of inventory. Once a limit is crossed, only software can help in identifying the product and its location, its availability in the warehouse.
Software along with associated hardware like labeling, bar codes, scanners, RFID systems, automatic identification and wireless LAN etc are all needed to do their part for warehouse and inventory management as a part of the systems. WMS Software coupled with hardware helps in monitoring the flow of products- in, out and within-warehouse and enhancing inventory accuracy. Success or failure depends critically on one thing- selecting the appropriate WMS. All WMS are not created equally. Definitely, one size does not fit all. Rigidity is not working any more. People are expecting configuration and flexibility. No WMS is perfect and complete in all aspects as the situations are dynamic and keep evolving. It is better to seek advice from the experts to choose the appropriate one for your present and expected future contexts. It is not about data creation, storing, retrieval alone. It is also about designing and staging a customized work flow solutions - for one and all in the organization and beyond as well. Lack of information or less accuracy about warehouse inventory should not create the bottleneck for the decisions anytime and anywhere in the organization. WMS is supposed to provide all such information that is required for any decisions related to the inventory in the warehouse. The right WMS should help your business to grow and thrive. WMS ideally should be fit to your business model and culture, and provide you with the backward integration, innovation, functionality, and versatility you need. If you selected and executed the appropriate ones for your business, you are expected to experience the following benefits. Some of them are direct, immediate and some of them are indirect and not so immediate.
Your processes are optimized for the materials, for the business itself and for the business context. It is open to receive any or all input methods that you have or going to have and work collaboratively with automation equipment you have.
Excessive inventory is a kind of loss, and the key is to minimize stock level but still maintain an efficient supply. WMS should help you to do so.
It helps you to integrate with other systems that are in a place such as ERP, and Transportation Management System (TMS). If your WMS is a poor fit to ERP, you may try a stop gap solution, and end up in another problem - "garbage in: garbage out". You will end up wasting more time and effort making them to work together.
WMS helps you in efficient labor allocation on the floor tasks. WMS provide the structure in the work place, thus help in providing the needed feedback and information support to the employee. WMS helps employees in their task execution, planning, allocation, reasonable autonomy, and accuracy about the work load.
Everyone is using the same data and thus helps in reaching agreements logically and most conversations will be data driven, goal oriented and straight forward. People can spend time on analysis, scenarios building and future possibilities. People need not spend time on data collection.
Measurement is possible thus monitoring. Monitoring provide a degree of control, and information. It provides a sense of completion, an achievement, a sense of self-worth. With measurement and monitoring in place, employees need not feel worried that their work is not being recognized or valued.
Happy supplier and customer relationships. People are looking forward to work with you. Correct WMS elevates and improves all relationships–not just in your company, but with all parties in demand and supply chains along with your end customers.
No or few errors in delivery. Increasing accuracy. Reduced delivery lead times. Cycles are faster thus more sales possibility. System driven behavior would make you feel you are in control.
Waste prevention or elimination is not the much cited benefit of WMS. This is critical when you have any perishables or date restricted stock. WMS helps you in choosing the products based on First In And First Out (FIFO) principle. You can plan a sales campaign based on the information. Inventory when stored in its proper environment and used in the best order eliminates scrap, waste, and obsolescence.
Efficient use of space and labor also reduces waste. You can use your team members also efficiently as they can push more volume out and you need fewer people to deal with that work load.
Space planning can be done efficiently to get the maximum returns on the space involved. One can optimize travel path of material from picking to put-away location and everything in between to increase the efficiency. Operating margins can also be increased by optimal utilization through reduction on hand inventory and reduce costs.
Accurate inventory data helps you to maintain the stock as needed. There is no need to add unnecessary too much of safety margin.
The right WMS provides you report as you want them. And eventually, you should be able to use the data from your WMS to become a proactive, predictive leader in your company––not simply reactive.
Improved security and safety is also not much advertised benefit of WMS. In modern WMS system, workers are accountable for the transactions they did as they have to enter using their own unique login and thus they cannot pilferage in one or another manner.
Transparency and visibility helps you to plan and implement production, marketing, and advertisement, cash outflows and inflows as well.
If you see WMS as a constraint or an obstacle and find yourself working around it rather than alongside it, it is time for new WMS or an upgrade.
A good WMS should help you in creating and maintaining an upward spiral improvement. The right WMS helps you in more than one way besides helping you to scale your business and it also scale along with your business without a hitch or a glitch.
Select your WMS wisely.