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 centers worldwide.
Still, we continue 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, that lack WMS experience. In either case and often even for managers with some WMS experience, we’ve found it useful to review the core benefits a WMS delivers.
Here are some of WMS benefits:
Number 1: Comprehensive inventory control resulting from real-time, accurate visibility to all inventory in the warehouse by location, quantity, lot or batch, 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 and when" to improve error resolution and power operational analytics.
Number 3: Most WMS implementations involve paperless warehouse operations, driving productivity and accuracy through the widespread use of barcode scanning.
Number 4: A WMS will provide system-directed activities for all work in the distribution center, improving productivity and smart sequencing of tasks. Those tasks include putaway, cycle counting, order picking, replenishment truck loading, and others. Work is assigned based on permission, priority and proximity.
Number 5: A WMS should provide detailed productivity tracking at the individual associate level.
Number 6: A WMS should provide comprehensive metrics and reporting at the facility level and aggregated across all facilities.
Number 7: A WMS should provide truckload planning capabilities to automate that process and reduce transportation costs.
Number 8: 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 9: Finally, a WMS should serve as a platform to enable rapid process, work flow, and technology changes to enable continuous improvement and meet new opportunities or requirements.
So there you have it – the key high-level benefits you should expect from a new WMS. Other benefits of WMS could be listed, but most are simply offshoots of the core benefits summarized above.