How efficient is your warehouse? It’s a question your customers are unlikely to pose. It is a question that you must ask, though, to win and maintain their business. A smoothly running warehouse is necessary for inventory-centric companies. Warehouse management systems (WMS) help ensure the right items get to the right place at the lowest cost possible. Behind this simple goal lies enormous complexity. WMS software can make the complex task of warehouse management much more manageable. Find out more about your WMS software options and how they can benefit your business in this article.
WMS software providers promise lower costs and higher profits. That’s a bold promise. It’s a promise that WMS providers deliver on with a number of key benefits. The main benefits of warehouse management software include:
Strong warehouse management results in increased customer satisfaction through timely and accurate product delivery. Operating more efficiently helps lower overhead costs and deliver a price advantage to customers.
The scope of WMS software is as broad as the warehouse itself. Warehouse management systems generally include the following functionality: inventory management, facility management, receiving, shipping, and labor management. Warehouse management system software may be just one part of a supply chain management (SCM) program. Or, a WMS package may be its own stand-alone program. In most businesses, WMS software either integrates or is a part of SCM software or the main ERP program.
Managing inventory is the central purpose of warehouse management systems. But, managing inventory in the warehouse is a different animal than managing it in other environments. Generally, a warehouse environment means increased scale. Inventory management techniques that may work well with a limited number of items quickly become cumbersome in the warehouse. The scale of warehouse operations demands increased automation.
Automated data collection is one of the core features of any solid WMS package. Technologies for tracking inventory include bar-coding and RFID. Mobile devices are often used in the warehouse to track inventory. Mobile devices can be used to both scan inventory in and out of the warehouse, as well as to provide instant info on inventory locations.
Before inventory can move along the supply chain to the customer, it typically needs to be received in the warehouse. WMS software optimizes the reception and subsequent storage of inventory.
WMS software provides a rule-based approach to receiving. Delivery confirmation tools ensure that goods have been properly received. For high turnover companies, WMS programs can even provide cross-docking capability. Cross-docking refers to the immediate receiving and sending of inventory down the supply chain. With proper planning, inventory can be received at one dock and immediately sent out from another.
More commonly, though, inventory needs to be properly stored for future provisioning. Facility management tools provide functionality ranging all the way from defining put-away sequences to bin utilization.
Optimizing the process for picking is a critical aspect of WMS software. Picking functionality goes beyond identifying what needs to be provisioned and where it is located. Picking tools also define optimal steps for preparing, packaging, and provisioning goods. Specific instructions can be set to optimize moves and transfers to help ensure efficiency.
Shipping may represent a point of integration for many WMS programs. However, many warehouse management systems will have shipping functionality built into the system. Shipping software helps define the best mode of transportation, assists with route or carrier selection, and even can help manage import/export issues.
Warehouse management systems are data intensive software suites. In a live environment, data moves in and out of the WMS software. Order entry software passes information on what goods need to be sent to which customer. The warehouse communicates with the purchasing department. Delivery instructions may need to be sent to logistics or SCM software. Because of the cross-functional movement of data, many ERP providers offer warehouse management software as a component of the system. Still, stand-alone WMS systems are very popular as well. Not every company can switch their ERP system to one that includes WMS functionality. Also, in many cases unique functional requirements may be better-served by a particular stand-alone WMS.
Whichever type of WMS system you are interested in, Find Accounting Software can help return a number of WMS options relevant to your specific needs for you to consider.