In this week’s Logistics Insights podcast, Gartner’s Dwight Klappich provides insights into key trends in Warehouse Management Systems for today and beyond. .

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Gartner recently held its Supply Chain Symposium, once again in all virtual fashion for 2021.

That included a session on Warehouse Management Systems, or WMS, led by well-known Gartner analyst Dwight Klappich. During the session, Klappich detailed what he sees as key trends in WMS technology. As an intro to those trends, Klappich first noted that Warehouse Management Systems are getting smarter.

“We see vendors adding a lot of intelligence with more sophisticated tools for planning labor, planning work, forecasting capabilities,” Klappich said.

The first WMS trend cited by Klappich is what he calls resource planning and optimization, which has been around for a while but is now getting more advanced and starting to deliver real results.

The promise of these capabilities is to get tasks done in the warehouse more efficiently by consider constraints in planning the work, Klappich said, adding that machine learning is starting to play a role here a well.

Klappich’s second trend involves what he calls “radical changes” in WMS technical architectures to what is called a micro-services based platform. The promise is to be able to assemble these mini-services to easily develop desired business processes, and to enable the WMS to easily make calls to get data from external systems such as a TMS.

Klappich said in fact he believes a WMS’ technical architecture is rising in importance in the vendor selection process. Finally, and not surprisingly, Klappich cites the need for improved integration with materials handling systems, especially mobile robots, as a third key WMS trend.

There is huge interest in various forms of warehouse automation, Klappich notes, driven by rising labor challenges in both cost and availability – and WMS needs to step up to the challenge.

We’ll note briefly that Softeon offers a unique approach to materials handling system integration, with direct management and control of systems like Voice, Put Walls, pick-to-light and mobile robots without the need for any other software. This approach has many operational and technical benefits.

So there you have Dwight Klappich’s views of key WMS trends.

You can download Gartner’s excellent 2021 WMS Critical Capabilities Report, which ranks WMS vendors across nine areas of functionality and segmented by level of distribution center complexity.