Warehouse Management Systems, or WMS, is a very well-known category of supply chain software, first adopted more than 45 years ago, and now managing operations in thousands if not tens of thousands of distribution center worldwide.
Still, Softeon continues to find many companies, sometimes even large ones, that are new to WMS. Or, there are stakeholders in a new WMS project, for example from customer service or even transportation, that lack WMS experience.
Even for managers with some WMS experience, we’ve found it useful to review the core benefits an advanced WMS delivers. Below are Softeon’s top 10.
Number 1: Comprehensive inventory control resulting from real-time, accurate visibility to all inventory in the warehouse by location, quantity, lot or batch, serial number, etc.
That visibility can be extended from an individual distribution center to provide centralized visibility to all inventory across multiple warehouses.
Number 2: A WMS should provide a comprehensive audit trail of all warehouse activities and transactions, capturing who did what, when. This data is used to improve error resolution and power operational analytics.
Number 3: Most WMS implementations involve paperless warehouse operations, driving productivity and accuracy through widespread use of bar code scanning and mobile terminals.
Number 4: A WMS will provide system-directed activities for all work in the distribution center, improving productivity through smart sequencing of tasks.
Those tasks include putaway, cycle counting, order picking, replenishment, truck loading, and others. Work is assigned based on the “3 P’s” of permission, priority and proximity.
Number 5: Relatedly, the core activity of most distribution centers is to pick and ship customer orders. A WMS should improve this process by tools and techniques that include: wave planning; offering support for multiple picking methods (discrete, batch, cluster, zone, zone-batch, etc.; dynamic slotting; and improving replenishment of forward picking areas if used.
Number 6: A WMS will provide detailed productivity tracking at the individual associate level by task type and direct and indirect time.
Number 7: A WMS will provide comprehensive metrics and reporting at the facility level and aggregated across facilities.
Number 8: A WMS should provide truck planning capabilities to automate that process and reduce transportation costs.
Number 9: A WMS should support customer compliance labeling and other services common in the retail sector but also seen in other industries, to reduce or eliminate customer chargebacks.
Number 10: WMS should serve as a platform to enable rapid process, work flow, and technology changes that drive continuous improvement and meet new opportunities and distribution requirements. Today, support for DC automation of many types is especially important.
So there you have it – the 10 key high level benefits you should expect from a new WMS. We’d love to discuss opportunities for WMS with you.