Warehouse Management System (WMS)
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software tool used to manage warehouse operations in an efficient and effective way. A warehouse management system helps in receiving inventory, put away, order picking and then the replenishment of the inventory. A Warehouse Management System can be independent application or it can be part of an organization wide ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. This system will help in decreasing the errors in distribution process and time required to fulfill the orders. With the increase of competition in every industry, the more and more organizations are implementing WMS systems.
Types of Warehouse Management System
The types of a Warehouse Management System depends on the type of organization but three common types of WMS are:
- Standalone WMS: A standalone WMS is a traditional on site type of Warehouse Management System which is not the part of a ERP system but it can be integrated with ERP system for better planning of operations. As an external program, a standalone system faces challenges when integrated with an ERP system. This is system costs less as compared to an integrated WMS.
- Cloud Based WMS: A cloud WMS is internet based software as a service framework, which uses cloud technology of enterprise. Cloud based WMS has better flexibility and security as it receives automatic updates and does not requires any additional capital investment.
- ERP Modules: This is a Warehouse Management System, which is the part of an ERP system. This system provides a seamless flow of information between all organization departments, which in turn increase the accuracy, and productivity of the whole system.
Characteristics of Warehouse Management System
- Inbound and Outbound Operations: A warehouse Management System assists in managing the products coming to warehouse by vehicles. With the help of bar codes and RFID, technology a WMS put data into inventory system about the incoming and outgoing items in a warehouse.
- Order and Fulfillment Management: WMS has advanced order management system, which controls the flow of items in a warehouse. With the help of automation and AI, a WMS can pick and transport products from their locations to the shipping area and re order products when there is need arises according to inventory status.
- Tracking and Analysis: WMS keep track of the products at every stage of their movement, which helps in increasing the inventory visibility. By tracking and analysis, multiple locations can be handled easily and the planning and decision making is easy for management.
- Backups and Integration: Warehouse management systems integrates with the organization wide ERP systems to provide a better control over all processes. In addition, data can be stored easily by cloud computing and act as backup if there is any error in the system.
- Third Party Logistics Support: To manage a wide range of warehouse operations at various locations the 3PL is required and a WMS integrates the operations of 3PL provider with the operations of organization, which in turn increase efficiency of a complex warehouse system.
- Labor Management: WMS manage tasks performed by employees in such a way that the time waste on all activities is minimum and management of labor hours is easy.
- Communication and Support Features: Communication is important for any workplace. An effective WMS provide a communication medium to the workers to connect with their team members. In addition, other support features like email support and training to employees are part of WMS.
Impact and Benefits of Warehouse Management System on Warehouse Operations
- Automation of Manual Processes: With the implementation of WMS, the automation of warehouse activities is possible which reduce the labor required and reduce the costs.
- Inventory Optimization: Inventory must be at optimum level for better working of organization. With a WMS, the inventory management improves which in turn decrease the holding cost of inventory.
- Optimized Warehouse Layout: A WMS helps to optimize the processes by providing the easy access to pick up and put away operations, which also leads to an optimized warehouse layout.
- Performance Measurement: Performance measurement is necessary for an effective decision-making a WMS helps in knowing which areas are not running effectively. It also helps to monitor the employees’ productivity and reduce the non-productive activities.
- Improved accuracy: A WMS helps in improving the accuracy in put away, sorting, pick up and all other operations, which helps to deliver right product at right location to the right customer.
- Improved Safety and Security: With a WMS is easy to know any missing stock instantly this reduces the chances of theft.
Challenges to Warehouse Management System
- Warehouse Space: Warehouse space is the major challenge to WMS because the space is limited in a warehouse and increasing space requires a lot of capital investment. Therefore, the effective utilization of available space is a challenge.
- Customer Expectations: With the globalization and increasing technology, the customer expectations are increasing every day. Therefore perfect order delivery and good customer service is must these days.
- Product Diversification: The range of products is increasing day by day so the management such a wide varieties of products is a challenge for a Warehouse Management System.
- Demand Fluctuations: Demand keeps changing due to seasonality, weather, economy changes and many other factors to keep stocks available whenever there is a demand increase and to keep inventory cost low during a slow period is a challenge.
- Globalization and Technology Improvements: Globalization increased the competition in every business and change in technology require an organization to keep updating its system with time.
Real World Examples of Warehouse Management System
- Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud: Oracle’s WMS can be used by businesses of any size and it provides a clear visibility of the inventory. Some of its applications include warehouse intelligence, material handling, productivity management and multichannel selling.
- SAP Extended Warehouse Management: SAP Extended Warehouse Management is designed for companies of all sizes and is available as either a cloud or stand-alone solution. It enhances warehousing processes by integrating logistics processes. This network covers sectors such as aviation, consumer goods, automobile, manufacturing, high-tech, retail and more. It offers features that enhance yard control, inbound optimization, and shipping alerts; demand monitoring, inventory management, order enhancement, slot reconfiguration, and replenishment.
- Infor CloudSuite WMS: Infor CloudSuite WMS serves medium to large companies in a range of markets, covering consumer electronics, manufacturing, hospitals, foodservice, high-tech, logistics, automotive, hospitality and much more. This allows consumers access of facilities, staff and commands of handle delivery volume and service level. Its functions include inventory control and visibility, 3PL billing, warehouse performance, 3D evaluation and job scheduling.
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