If you run your warehouse with excel spreadsheets or even worse, on paper, and you have a nightmarish inventory process, or something is always missing from the inventory, we think it’s time for you to familiarize yourself with WMS.
Warehouse Management System or WMS is a software solution for warehouse automation and tracking of all warehouse processes. Quality WMS aims at 97% inventory accuracy and handles all of the warehouse processes – from receiving (goods in), put-away, picking, packing, and shipping of the goods. That way, all processes in your warehouse are monitored, automated and optimized by a software solution that gets you many benefits, more of which below.
What are the essential features of WMS?
Imagine a tidy warehouse without any paperwork where items are categorized and stored in an orderly fashion. All items are automatically stored on warehouse shelves, in proper order and all are entered by scanning via a barcode terminal. There is no hassle, lost items, and the whole company has an overview of the inventory status in real-time. This is not an illusion. Your warehouse really can look like this.
The warehouse management system tracks the movement of items through the warehouse. The software solution has some ERP software elements, but usually, WMS is integrated and connected with 3rd party ERP solutions used by companies that are implementing WMS. That way sales, marketing, management, and other departments in the company know the exact inventory status in real-time, making their job easier and enabling them to plan more accurately.
Main features of quality WMS:
– Automation of all warehouse processes such as: receiving (goods in), put away, picking, packing and shipping of goods, inventory checks, etc.,
– Documentation workflow with automated import to company business software (ERP),
– More efficient workforce management. Optimization of workflow with the more precise flow of the goods and elimination of mistakes,
– Receiving, tagging, and picking of items over barcode terminals and storing real-time information in the information database.
Types of WMS solutions
WMS usually is a standalone software solution. In most cases, it is connected with other business intelligence solutions like ERP systems. For example, if you are using SAP ERP you can integrate it with your newly picked WMS system, in order to have a smooth data exchange between these two.
Another subcategory of WMS is a solution that comes as a module of the existing ERP system. The main disadvantage of that type of WMS add-on is that it doesn’t have complex features that are available in a standalone Warehouse Management System and is less customizable, therefore it may not be able to cover all your processes and needs.
While some smaller organizations still work with spreadsheets, from SMBs to corporations, WMS is an essential part of the modern warehouse. WMS is a scalable and modular solution that can be tailor-made for a company, and in general, businesses choose WMS as a standalone software solution.
Standalone WMS can adapt to the company size, warehouse complexity and specific warehouse processes, which can help you grow your business and scale more easily.
Main benefits of WMS
Warehouse workflow and process automatization bring numerous benefits you might miss at first sight. To give you a better overview of how WMS can help your company, we made a list of such solutions’ top advantages.
a) Cost reduction and space optimization
WMS is an intelligent system that tracks all processes inside of a warehouse and can provide the best solution for maximum warehouse space optimization. With movement analysis and knowing where you store your items, materials, or goods, you can make the best business decisions on where you should place goods for maximum movement efficiency. That way, you’re saving valuable storage space and workers’ time.
Other optimization areas
– Better warehouse space utilization,
– Timely and correct item delivery that results in fewer shortages or excesses of goods,
– Less time spent on employee training and onboarding,
– Faster picking and packing, and no more searching for lost items.
All this leads to a reduction of operating costs and better flow of goods through the warehouse.
WMS can also perfect item movement with standard protocols like first-in-first-out (FIFO), last-in-first-out (LIFO), first expires-first-out (FEFO).
No matter how complicated your processes are, WMS will help you with automation and therefore reduce your costs in the long run.
b) Real-time inventory visibility
WMS enables better accuracy and visibility of your inventory, and all of that in real-time. By running different kinds of reports you know the exact amount of each and every item you have in your warehouse. Such precision and transparency are achieved with barcode scanning of every item and every location in the warehouse. This way you are decreasing the number of lost items and improving your inventory accuracy. And when you integrate such precise metrics with your ERP, it will boost efficiency and decision-making inside of the whole company, not only in your department.
c) Labor efficiency
WMS also automates assigning of tasks to the right person in the warehouse. Alongside that, optimization of travel time within the warehouse is one of the greatest benefits that the WMS can provide to improve labor utilization. By defining the best picking method, you are shortening the path from point A to point B, which makes your staff more efficient. You can even do the analysis of your goods and rearrange your warehouse layout so that high-moving goods are closer and faster to pick and pack.
Elimination of paperwork and introduction of barcode terminals enables employees to work efficiently and to focus only on their core tasks, and at the same time decreasing errors in picking and packing.
d) Serialization and tracking of items
Items in the warehouse can be easily tracked with their serial number and their batch, e.g. their LOT number. That way, if you are manufacturing from raw materials, you can track the whole process, from raw materials to the finished product and serial or LOT number will tell you of which items finished product is made.
WMS can help with tracking and connecting items with incoming orders, and you will have a better overview of the flow. It also contributes to planning and resource allocation. You can cut costs with detailed inventory insight in real-time, which results in avoiding unnecessary orders or lost items.
e) Improving supply chain
Warehouse Management System influences the whole supply chain with its automation features. Incoming goods, papers, and all processes in the warehouse up until delivery are simplified and automated. Accurate and quick shipping with the elimination of unwanted steps will increase efficiency and cut costs. By implementing WMS, you can also improve partner relations by improving supply chain efficiency and enabling better service for your clients.
f) Cutting operational costs for warehouse equipment
The warehouse that uses WMS is highly automated, which reduces workforce and equipment load. You can cut costs on the amortization of equipment, smaller electric and gas bills, and materials like paper.
WMS’s other advantages include better user experience through the faster workflow from ordering to delivery and further adjustments in warehouse workflow through constant learning from reports.
Who is using WMS?
If you wondered which industries use WMS, the answer is not focused on industry type as much as on the warehouse’s size and complexity.
Distribution companies, 3PLs, retailers, manufacturers, and other trade companies use WMS. Warehouse Management System is extremely useful in the food industry, electronics, textile, tobacco, and any other industry which handles bigger inventories.
The need for WMS comes when you are not handling your inventory properly, and you are way too big to use papers or Excel sheets.
WMS scalability allows even smaller companies to acquire quality solutions and ease their practices, and prepare them in advance for the growth of their business, therefore improving scalability.
Warehouse Management System comes with numerous benefits. A quality solution will help with the automation of standard procedures in the warehouse. This means you will get real-time reports on workflow and warehouse inventory.
Better equipment and workforce utilization and better space management are among the essential benefits.
WMS is a business software with detailed statistics, automated data export for all departments, including accounting and sales.
In case you’d like to find out more, contact us and we’ll provide you with our consultancy.