What is a WMS & Why Your New-Generation Warehouse Needs One
Published on 27 October 2021
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) can bring order to chaos in your warehouse by giving you control over your current operations and prepare your warehouse for future growth. While WMS vary in their complexity, scalability, and integration capabilities into other systems, they share a collective goal to improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and optimize service levels.
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In the WMS market, the majority of U.S. companies are using a solution today. However, according to a Generix Group study, 42% of companies felt that their current WMS solution was increasingly less tailored to their needs. Changes in warehouse activities have pushed the need to replace outdated systems with ones that allow for adaptations, agility, and advanced capabilities.
How a WMS Supports the New-Generation Warehouse
For growth-oriented businesses having a WMS is a strategic move that will support building a new-generation warehouse. New modes of consumption, changing buyer behaviors, and high customer expectations mean warehouses need to be faster, more productive, error-free, and forward-looking.
The newest generation of WMS solutions have expanded to adapt to these changes creating a competitive environment for warehouses. An advanced WMS will help your warehouse or distribution center:
- Optimize warehouse processes
A WMS manages the day-to-day operations of a warehouse and provides control to receiving, storage, fulfillment, and shipping activities taking place. A good WMS will granularly mirror your processes and continually optimize them for maximum efficiency as customer and business requirements evolve.
- Improve inventory management
Inventory is everything to manufacturers and distributors. A WMS focuses on the organization and optimization of storing and tracking inventory from receiving to shipping. Warehouses can fix their inventory management challenges as a WMS will optimize storage space utilization, improve the speed of operations, provide a granular, real-time inventory view, and support customer retention through in-stock, on-time, and accurate inventory information.
- Increase productivity
A WMS provides visibility into people, products, places, and processes. To be an efficient and profitable warehouse, a certain level of productivity must be achieved. Automation, precise traceability, enhanced control, and ongoing optimization across those four areas leads to greater productivity and ultimately improve profitability.
Eliminate Paper-Based Processes with a WMS
Despite the digitization of warehouses that started in the 1980s, paper continues to be used by some in conjunction with scan verification technologies, automation systems, and warehouse management solutions like WMS or ERP modules.
While paper-based processes may be appropriate for a smaller operation with fewer operational requirements, reliance on paper will limit business expansion, whether through increasing volume, taking on new fulfillment channels, or moving from a single channel fulfillment to a multi-channel, cross-channel, or even omni-channel.
Three common paper-based processes still used warehouse operations: manual data entry, manual printing and sorting of pick tickets, and added verification steps for accuracy.
- Manual data entry is prone to human error and is time-consuming. The use of manual data entry likely means that the same information needs to be entered and then re-entered into multiple systems. Warehouses that rely on manual data entry lose the ability to capture and act on real-time data, reduce data reliability, and hinder productivity.
- Manual printing and sorting of pick tickets do not allow a warehouse to use real-time data to leverage current inventory availability and results in lost visibility into order statuses and labor activities. How picking is completed also becomes an inefficient process where orders are picked one at a time vs. picked in batches or clusters.
- Adding accuracy verification steps to work completed is often necessary for paper-based management because the possibility of error is so high, and a single mistake can easily be missed and carried through the entire process. However, whether it is for an inbound receipt or an outbound order having to manually verify each line to cross-check accuracy dramatically impacts warehouse operations and personnel morale.
In logistics, there is little tolerance for error. As a result, customer satisfaction depends on warehouse performance. A WMS can eliminate the workaround of these paper-based processes and boost productivity, ensuring that item locations are accurate, pick lists and routes are clear-cut, control is enhanced, the warehouse layout is optimized, processes are standardized and continuously enriched, and business data is visible and actionable.
If your company is looking to optimize your warehouse operations and wants to learn more about how an advanced WMS can support that business objective, download our Absolute Guide WMS.
Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.