A WMS is the basis behind warehouse optimization and automation

"Trade isn’t about goods. Trade is about information. Goods sit in the warehouse until information moves them." - CJ Cherryh

Because customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding accurate, secure, and rapid data exchange, and because competition is becoming more intense, businesses need to have the information-technology tools necessary to support their business operations and to build reliability, speed, control, and flexibility into their warehouse operations.

A corporation needs to implement a real-time warehouse management system in order to effectively compete (WMS)

A WMS ensures that materials move through the warehouse as efficiently as possible by coordinating and optimizing material flows. It coordinates receiving, inventory, picking and packing, orders, and other tasks with the overall objective to manage and monitor pretty much everything that takes place daily inside a warehouse. High degrees of inventory visibility are also provided by a WMS, both inside the facility and while the inventory is being transported.

Why you need a WMS

According to Modern Materials Handling, more than half of companies (56%) are using a WMS. Within the US, that number hovers around 83% according to Statista.

Just 56% of warehouses are using a WMS

Optimize warehouse efficiency

You can expedite order fulfillment with a warehouse management system, and it can also help you keep track of what is selling well. It also enables you to find new ways to optimize the layout of the warehouse, by visualizing which products are frequently leaving it. When raw materials arrive, you may keep track of them and make sure they are placed where they would be most useful for manufacturing and stocking. Instead of being at the opposite end of the storage space, the best-selling items can be placed closer to the loading dock or the packing area.

Handling changing customer expectations

The adoption of WMS’ can seem low given that consumers are becoming more demanding. In this day and age, it is expected that customers can communicate digitally, that stock levels are visible online, and that questions are answered immediately. Apart from customers, marketing-, sales- and finance teams are also in continual need of up-to-date information.

A WMS can be part of the solution to deal with these needs. A WMS can efficiently process data and plan movements inside the warehouse. It can generate reports and manage high transaction volumes.

Managing (scarce) labor

Many warehouses are dealing with labor constraints and challenges in managing their warehouse staff. This has led an increasing number of business to investigate the adoption of supply chain control tower software in order to deal with this. These control towers provide connected, customizable dashboards filled with data, business KPIs, and information about events relating to the supply chain.

In these centers of real-time information, a WMS is crucial. This is so that a closely integrated control tower configuration may be made using WMS in conjunction with labor management systems, warehouse control systems, transportation management systems, or warehouse automation.

Instead of waiting for days to receive important management reports, a control tower provides real-time information and dashboards enabling logistics managers to manage high levels of complexity and take immediate, actionable steps.

Providing essential information to robotic and other automation solutions

WMS developers have also been working hard over the past two to three years to link their system with warehouse robotic technologies. This wasn't always as streightforward due to general integration issues and problems with latency in the early days of robotics. These improvements are encouraging news for businesses who wish to integrate robots into their facilities in a way that is less cumbersome.

Additionally, data heavy automation technologies that leverage AI for example often leverage the vast amount of data that is available within a WMS. This is also the case for our Powerhouse AI automated inventory checking application. A WMS can therefore often be seen as a prerequisite for automation.

Attracting and retaining workers

The use of automation can make it easier for you to recruit new workers. Productivity and efficiency are the two most important factors to consider, and the rewards can be quite substantial when technology is utilized effectively. Young people entering the workforce today are more inclined to avoid jobs that they would consider to be low-tech or to be in industries that are perceived to be low-tech. A WMS may automate a variety of tedious and unmotivating operations, increasing motivation and easing the stress associated with completing an order correctly in times where labor is scarce.

Young people tend to avoid low-tech jobs in low-tech environments

A warehouse management system also increases predictability by establishing the day's tone and expectations. Now, warehouse employees are aware of what to expect and how long a shift should take before it ever begins. A WMS gives employees the resources, framework, and consistency that are frequently absent.

In addition to this, a WMS can be used to estimate the time needed to complete an order and clearly outline what is scheduled for the employees each day. Without a WMS, it is challenging to hold individuals accountable in a way that is accurate and fair.

How to select a WMS?

Now that it is clear that a WMS is a must to enable automation and to deal with changing customer expectations, it is important to select the right system for your warehouse situation and implement it in the right way. This is not an easy task as there are hundreds of providers available. Next to this, implementation projects often fail due to bad preparation and change management. In our next article, we will focus on these two topics in order to set you up for success!

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