A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, put away and picking.
Warehouse management systems often utilize Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC) technology, such as barcode scanners, mobile computers, wireless LANs and potentially Radio-frequency identification (RFID) to efficiently monitor the flow of products.
The objective of a warehouse management system is to provide a set of computerized procedures to handle the receipt of stock and returns into a warehouse facility, model and manage the logical representation of the physical storage facilities (e.g. racking etc), manage the stock within the facility and enable a seamless link to order processing and logistics management in order to pick, pack and ship product out of the facility.
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Geodis is Europe’s fourth biggest operator which delivers value-added logistics solutions for some part or whole of the supply chain. This group is present at each step of the supply chain. It is present in 120 countries with a workforce of 26,500 and comprises core business divisions along with cross-divisional entity – Geodis Global Solutions – delivering end-to-end solutions in all sectors of activities.
Transport and logistics are service businesses in which the quality of customer care and the level of technological innovation make a world of difference. At Geodis, information systems are fully integrated into transportation and logistics plans. The information is used to promote productivity and customer satisfaction by favouring reliable communication that is quick and always available thanks to a wide range of tools and services.
The Geodis systems management department acts at all levels of its organisation and is involved at the early stages of project management: from analysis of the technical specifications to implementation, through operational follow-up, while guaranteeing optimal quality service to the customer. To do this, the department relies on “high availability” technical infrastructures that allow for operation seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Geodis has implemented warehouse management systems since the beginning of its logistic operations more than 20 years ago. The driving forces of implementing an automated warehousing system, which will be detailed in this case study, were to have a tool for a more organised storage which can be integrated with other internal systems. Direct benefits expected from the implementation of such a solution were to increase accuracy, decrease cost and reduce cycle times through:
Optimised management of incoming/outgoing stock;
Visualisation of storage placement and automatic assignment of available space;
Real-time knowledge of stock levels and the geographic location of merchandise.
Warehouse management system:
Geodis manages over 3,000,000 m² of warehouses. The primary purpose of the warehouse management system is to control the movement and storage of materials within an operation and process the associated transactions. Directed picking, directed replenishment, and directed put-away are some of the key functionalities of GEODIS warehouse management systems. The basic logic uses a combination of item, location, quantity, unit of measure, and order information to determine where to stock, where to pick, and in what sequence to perform these operations. The warehouse management solution is integrated with other information systems allowing therefore automatically integrating and exchanging information with customers and transporters. Today, the order is directly put into the customer system and taken into account by the Geodis warehouse management system. This avoids retyping the information and errors.
The warehouse management system of Geodis supports all the main processes of the warehouse. It handles the product architecture, multiple references (shipper, commercial, supplier, manufacturer) and multiple packaging schemes. It manages series and batch numbers and different dates, thereby offering tracking options for the entire logistics chain.
A typical business process is triggered when a customer makes a sale. Geodis receives the information and the system checks if the product is available in stock. The message will be sent to the system, a picking order will be made to the operators in the warehouse, the operator will prepare the shipment, a transport order will then be sent to the transport department, and at the same time a message to the custom modules will be sent. When the shipment has left the warehouse, a confirmation is sent to the customers. The delivery is then checked and confirmed to the customer.
The warehouse management system provided Geodis with a couple of benefits resulting
from the use of ICT that can be summarized in increased accuracy resulting from the
availability of correct and updated data, improved inventory management thanks to the
visibility of exact stock variations and logistics and in a greater ability to serve the
customer by reducing cycle times. These benefits translate into direct costs savings like
inventory cost reduction due to inventory visibility and accuracy; reduced paper handling
through the automation of management of orders and priorities by the system; less
personnel handling picking orders through automated Radio Frequency based picking or
voice picking and reduction of personnel handling shipping documentation and
In addition to the tangible costs and associated savings, there are a number of
intangibles difficult to accurately quantify, but are nonetheless valuable as the result of
implementing this solution:
Ability to receive orders and ship the same day without expediting. This
brings a higher level of service that helps differentiate you from your competitors.
Improved customer service levels. A warehouse management system enhances
the overall warehouse operation. Data accuracy and inventory accuracy both
improve. Mistakes are pushed to an absolute minimum. Deliveries are timely,
shipments are accurate and customers stay happy. This results in avoiding the
very costly problem of losing existing customers to the competition. The cost of
acquiring a new customer is up to five times greater than maintaining an existing
Self-managed employees. With system-directed operations available to the users,
supervisory intervention is held to a minimum. Much of the decision making
required in a typical warehouse is handled by the warehouse management system.
Workers do not need to take the manager away from his/her primary job. Rather,
the Warehouse management system directs the employee’s actions based on the user profile and location within the facility. Managers have more time to make
higher level decisions.
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