What is WMS? It stands for Warehouse Management System. A warehouse management system is a software application designed to support and optimize warehouse functionality and distribution center management.
Many organisations are still using the manual record keeping and in-house management systems when it comes to inventory management. While many warehouses would benefit from the use of a warehouse management system only very few engage in the use of a system that works for their organisation.
For warehouses that are still dependent on manual warehousing procedures or Radio Frequency (RF) Scanners, it may be time to consider the upgrade to the use of a WMS. It is a powerful solution that gives the warehouse staff the ability to manage by exception and make improvements based on accurate data. Weigh up the following five points on whether your warehouse is ready for the upgrade.
When dependent on manual warehouse processes in picking, packing and shipping client orders, it is an easy way for errors to occur and repeatedly. It is a sure way to damage the reputation built up over the years since your organisation was established.
Errors can happen anywhere when fulfilling the picking and shipping warehouse process, but when a warehouse is without a WMS, it can be difficult for staff to locate stock items, find out where things are going wrong and from that how to take the remedial actions.
A worthwhile WMS investing in will create an improved warehouse productivity and efficiency as well as a clear picture of the inventory control. It will give an overview of the stock on orders to be picked and those that are ready to dispatch.
The managing of stock is a very significant process of the warehouse. When you are short on stock, then you are unable to fulfil purchase orders – which can turn into a customer service nightmare. On the other hand an overstock of inventory is a waste of cash and warehouse storage space. In a worst case scenario of the warehouse, the stock maybe there but the staff simply can’t find it.
Stock visibility in real time is supported in some of the best WMS. To ensure you don’t sell a product that isn’t available or order more in than is necessary, this gives staff the ability to balance customer needs and books with real-time data.
It is an important part of stock management to have an efficient reverse logistics process, no matter how many or few returns you receive. The process begins when the stock is received back into the warehouse. A few questions to check off, what is the reason for the return? Is the product in a good condition to be resold? Where will the refund be stored and how will it be managed?
In a large number of organisations the faster that a product goes through the returns process, the more value the product retains. When a list of rules and guidelines aren’t in place for the guiding of staff in the returns process, the stock could end up in the wrong location or the refund could be missed altogether, creating a customer service drama. A WMS is able to manage all the rules, eliminating the need for paper management and assist employees in returning the product to the correct location in the shelving or racking system.
The setup of an efficient picking process may not seem a difficult task. In consideration of the steps involved that can only take a limited time to fulfil; pack the box with the correct contents, seal the box and stick on the shipping label. The larger the operations department, the quicker that inventory must move through the packing process. With the use of manual warehouse management you aren’t able to get the data or feedback on how stock flows through the warehouse through the packaging stage. This in turn makes it difficult to assess how much the picking process affects the bottom line.
The picking process is one of the most time consuming tasks in the warehouse. The larger the warehouse, the longer the process is going to take. If items that are regularly purchased together aren’t stored nearby in the warehouse, it will only add to the length of time that orders take to pick.
A WMS will give the data needed to streamline the warehouse picking process. Using technology to design precise picking paths and reorganising inventory by popularity. This in turn assists in getting staff moving through the warehouse aisles as efficiently as possible.
If two or more of these issues listed above are an issue to your operations department, then the answer is likely yes.
We created a list of warehouse pain points, but it’s not the only points to consider. When considering a WMS implementation you also need to look at how employees move the stock in the warehouse. Note down the processes that are slowing the picking process and having a negative effect on the warehouse efficiency. Keep these points in mind when implementing the warehouse management system.
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