Myriad workflows and processes occur between receiving shipments at your warehouse bays and scheduling outbound deliveries or stocking shelves in brick-and-mortar locations.
Centralizing the management of these processes and workflows achieves greater visibility and efficiencies for both day-to-day and long-term operational benefits.
If you’re wondering, “What is a warehouse management system?,” they’re the warehouse and inventory management software solutions that provide these capabilities. This article will detail them, provide top platform recommendations, and consider technology forecasts to help you evaluate options.
What is Warehouse Management Systems’ Purpose?
The ultimate goal of logistics is to ensure the timely and efficient throughput of goods, and doing so requires the sophisticated coordination of people, space, inventory, and transportation resources.
Warehouse management systems adopt an internal perspective to optimize everything involved with that effort inside your facilities. They do so based on collecting and analyzing data from each workflow. In simple terms, many businesses use an integrated WMS for inventory control of what goes out and what comes in.
Benefits of an integrated WMS software:
By leveraging that data, warehouse management systems provide broad-ranging capabilities and insight, covering:
- Receiving – Once shipments arrive at your facility, data is entered into the system to facilitate tracking and planning, including:
- Necessary forms signed and other documentation (e.g., bills of lading).
- Order discrepancies or damage for follow-up action
- Individual item scanning (e.g., barcodes, radio frequency identification (RFID))
- Inventory throughput – After receiving inbound shipments of inventory and supplies, those items need to make their way to production processes or temporary storage locations. Effective inventory throughput management is necessary to maintain operational efficiencies in later processes. This process includes:
- Optimizing floor space based on floor plan analysis
- Storing inventory in locations that support easy picking and retrieval (e.g., “first-in-first-out” organization)
- Tracking real-time inventory to forecast demand and optimize purchasing or production decisions
- Resource scheduling and tracking – Alongside inventory quantities and location, facility resources like personnel (e.g., shift scheduling, an area’s concentration of workers) and forklifts must be managed to ensure they’re allocated appropriately for efficient operations. With increased visibility over optimal assignments, management can ensure there are never any hold-ups, and every action is tied to the person responsible.
- Picking and packing – After orders are processed, personnel must be able to find and bring items to packing stations for outbound shipment preparation. Warehouse staff will rely on the information cataloged in WMS solutions and integrated with technologies like RFID for prompt location and retrieval. Further, the WMS solution will monitor packing material usage to help keep sufficient stock without overordering these resources.
- Partner and customer service – By optimizing the above workflows, logistics professionals can reduce turnaround times to keep their partners and customers satisfied with their services. Additionally, if those parties require information or certain metrics, your WMS will be able to quickly search for it or compile reports that you can share.
The processes involved with internal logistics are complicated on their own and quickly become more complex at scale. As a result, WMS solutions are essential for maintaining efficient operations and realizing opportunities for cost savings—especially for warehouses that manage high throughput volumes.
If you’re a scaling logistics company finding these efforts difficult, it’s probably time to implement a WMS solution.
When evaluating solutions, an important step is considering the sophistication your operations require.
Some businesses will find all the WMS functionality they need with a standalone platform focusing primarily on inventory tracking. Others will require highly integrated ecosystems, including transportation management systems (TMS) for in- and outbound logistics.
Smart Warehouses and WMS
As logistics technologies, cloud computing, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) capabilities continually evolve, “smart warehouses” that rely on fully connected facilities will increasingly become common. For example, 85% of respondents2 in a survey on warehouse technology adoption expect to be leveraging robotics and warehouse automation by 2030—a substantial increase over 2019’s 35%.
Similarly, 90% expect to adopt IoT technologies—called “supply chain 4.0”— in their warehouses by 2030.
WMS platforms will need to leverage big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to process all of the new information generated. Any WMS platforms you evaluate should not only scale appropriately with your operations—they should be positioned to evolve alongside complementary warehouse technologies that are beginning to emerge.
Warehousing Management Systems for Internal Ops, Us for In- and Outbound Logistics
Internal supply chain management is no less important or complicated than your external logistics. While implementing a warehouse and inventory management system is significant for optimizing operations, a WMS platform will only help you optimize operations within your facilities.
Once external partners and activities become involved, complexity scales in tandem. When looking to optimize your shipping logistics for in- and outbound transportation, Shipware will help you identify even more areas for improvement and cost reduction.
Between modal optimization, 3PL partnerships and assessment, and automated invoice auditing, we’ll find new avenues to help you save and find the best ecommerce shipping solutions for you.
Contact us today to learn more about our solution and consultancy.
- G2. Top 20 Warehouse Management Software. https://www.g2.com/categories/warehouse-management?tab=highest_rated
- Statista. Technology adoption in warehouse automation worldwide 2019-30. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1169394/global-warehouse-automation-technology-adoption/