Warehouse Management Systems

With the increasing demand for impeccable customer service, today's warehouses are pressured to raise their goals for inventory accuracy, timely delivery service, individualised order fulfilment, flexible value-added service and responsiveness to special customer requests.

To meet these high performance goals, a way needs to be found to eliminate any waste from the warehouse, to streamline its operations, and improve efficiency in every aspect of warehousing activities.

One of the most proactive ways of doing so is the use of a warehouse management system (WMS) that is designed to speed up order turnaround time, improve inventory accuracy, provide instant order status information, manage warehouse space and enhance labour productivity.

This paper aims to help firms assess the extent of the WMS benefits for warehouse operations and their impact on competitiveness, while developing practical guidelines for successful WMS implementation based on the findings of our exploratory study of selected US firms.

The findings suggest that WMS has become an integral part of warehouse operations and the subsequent supply chain processes.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)- Warehouse with barcoded boxes on forklift

From inventory control, shipping and receiving, to order fulfillment, a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is vital to improving the efficiency of a company's warehouse operations. Barcoding, Inc., offers warehouse management software packages that can be customized to fit the needs of companies of any size. By combining a warehouse management system with a wireless network, mobile computers, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and voice picking applications, Barcoding can help fully extend your enterprise to the mobile worker, while increasing operational efficiencies and enhancing your customer service.

Learn about Best Practices in Warehouse Management Operations:

A comprehensive warehouse management system helps streamline multiple functions of your enterprise:

Receiving – Gain insights into shipments that have been delivered, but that are not yet at their final location. Make sure items at low stock levels are staged and put away first, reducing the impact of out-of-stocks and inefficient fulfillment processes.

Put-Away – Know the location of all inventory on your shelves. Route your workers to the right location, set up their picks in the proper order to minimize travel time, and increase the number of orders they can pick each day.

Picking – Improve error-proofing and productivity in the picking process. Workers receive their picks on a mobile device that routes them to the proper location. Scanning items when you pick them verifies that the right item at the right quantity is picked.

Packing – Ensure the accuracy of each order that is picked and reduce material costs by determining the right sized shipping carton.

Shipping – See that each order is properly packaged and shipped to the right destination and delivered on the right date.

The ROI in a Warehouse Management System

Although installing a full-scale warehouse management system can be a costly investment, you will quickly recognize its value. After a warehouse management system has been up and running for only a few months, many of our customers say that they cannot envision their operations without it. From achieving real-time visibility into inventory and orders, to decreasing the time it takes to invoice and receive customer payments, a warehouse management system package extends mobility to each worker in your warehouse and prepares you to scale your business.

Problems Solved with a Warehouse Management System

Features and Benefits Checklist

Relying on paper trails and manual data entry to manage your warehouse compromises worker productivity and inventory accuracy. Once received via printer, orders are picked, packed and shipped, with a paper trail tracking every step of the process. That information is then manually entered it into the system and filed. Should a discrepancy appear in a customer's order or invoice, pinpointing the problem requires cross referencing the data in both the system and file cabinets.

As a result, your organization can avoid experiencing:

Delayed access to information in the system if has been entered days, or weeks late.
Inaccurate information in the system
Late invoices
Difficulty locating items as they are moved within the warehouse

The Benefits:

WMS will reduce inventory!
WMS will reduce labor costs!
WMS will increase storage capacity!
WMS will increase customer service!
WMS will increase inventory accuracy!

The Reality:

The implementation of a WMS along with automated data collection will likely give you increases in accuracy, reduction in labor costs (provided the labor required to maintain the system is less than the labor saved on the warehouse floor), and a greater ability to service the customer by reducing cycle times. Expectations of inventory reduction and increased storage capacity are less likely. While increased accuracy and efficiencies in the receiving process may reduce the level of safety stock required, the impact of this reduction will likely be negligible in comparison to overall inventory levels.The predominant factors that control inventory levels are lot sizing, lead times, and demand variability. It is unlikely that a WMS will have a significant impact on any of these factors. And while a WMS certainly provides the tools for more organized storage which may result in increased storage capacity, this improvement will be relative to just how sloppy your pre-WMS processes were.

Beyond labor efficiencies, the determining factors in deciding to implement a WMS tend to be more often associated with the need to do something to service your customers that your current system does not support (or does not support well) such as first-in-first-out, cross-docking, automated pick replenishment, wave picking, lot tracking, yard management, automated data collection, automated material handling equipment, etc.

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