As your business grows, so does your finished goods inventory and with it the struggle to keep up with changes from your business’s demands. This is where a warehouse management system comes into place to collect, process, and visualize all the data related to items coming into and going out of and between your warehouses. In this post we will cover all grounds on how a WMS System works, what it is, and why your business needs it, to be top of mind in your industry.
What types of warehouse management systems are there?
Now when you know that your business needs a WMS it is time to choose which type you need. Yes, we know, right when you thought you got it, there is more than one type.
Standalone software is a warehouse management system that’s sold as a standalone product. It can be integrated with other systems, but the main focus and strength of the software come from its warehouse management features. Integrations are optional and not required. Standalone WMS is most often used by companies that want to use it as a replacement for their existing WMS system or as a standalone WMS when they don’t need any other functionalities. Standalone WMS systems are usually used for smaller businesses.
An integrated WMS solution is preferable for companies that already have a solid back office or ERP infrastructure. The benefits are obvious — you have less software to implement, maintain and upgrade. You can also take advantage of pre-existing integrations with your accounting, CRM, shipping, and receiving systems. Integrated WMS solutions usually provide a more seamless experience for users too. There’s no need to switch between multiple systems to fulfill an order, check inventory levels or place new orders. Integrated WMS systems are usually the way to go for large enterprises.
How does a WMS System work?
At a first glance, a WMS can seem complex, and sure, it’s built to handle complex processes but is not as daunting as you might think. The WMS is there to support all processes related to when the goods enter the warehouse, the intra logistic movements and storing and finally the processes related to when the goods leave the warehouse.
Inbound related tasks from a WMS perspective
Inbound activities are usually performed in receiving areas of the warehouse. For example, in a traditional distribution center, trucks are unloaded on docks that are accessible to forklifts and conveyor belts. Consumer goods arrive in individual boxes or as pallets containing many items. Inbound activities include receiving, inspection, sorting and shelving, as well as loading and unloading trucks. The process of bringing the items into the warehouse is called inbound flow management. All these activities are captured in the WMS.
Intra warehouse processes are managed by the WMS
Intralogistics is the integration of information and material handling processes within a warehouse, creating an optimal and seamless flow of goods and materials. So, to make it clear, in the intra warehouse processes, managed in the WMS handles the movement of goods, information and people within a production, distribution or storage facility happens.
Outbound logistics optimized in the WMS
Outbound logistics is an important part of supply chain management because it gets products into the hands of consumers. In addition to transportation management, outbound logistics involves inventory management, order fulfillment (picking, packing, and labeling orders), packaging and shipping (including addressing, documentation preparation and tracking) as well as returns processing. The WMS plays a key role in determining efficiency in the outbound flow, for instance in picking and packing that usually involves manual resources and thereby needs to be optimized by a system.
Why is a warehouse management system important?
A well-streamlined warehouse leads to more organized order flows, more accurate stock counts, and smoother deliveries. This is what a warehouse management system does effortlessly. By comprehensive planning and directing of product flow and facilities for storing, retrieving, processing, and packaging. As well as distributing products to and from suppliers and customers, and between distribution centers from one system to make your business run smoothly.
An efficient WMS helps you to maximize your inventory and product handling operations so that you can control inventory levels, ensure quality of products, improve sales records and information management on customer orders while minimizing costs.
The WMS System becomes a part of your workflow.
Think of a WMS System as the middle piece of a puzzle. It’s necessary but needs its other pieces to become complete. So what’s important to understand is that the WMS system doesn’t stand on its own, it rather becomes a crucial part of your company’s IT infrastructure. By integrating other systems with your WMS, you will create a touchless workflow in your warehouse processes. For us, at IMI we want to be able to offer a WMS as efficient as possible, and that is why we value partnerships and provide integrations to solutions such as Lydia Voice Solutions, for more efficient order picking, or Agrippas deviation handling system.
Who needs a WMS System?
Whether you work with manufacturing and distribution or retail, every business that manages a finished goods warehouse benefits from a WMS. No matter the size of the business, the WMS lets your business grow and scale effortlessly. If used effectively, a WMS can help to increase profitability through more efficient inventory management and smarter warehouse operations.
How to set up your WMS System.
It is important to partner up with a team that will help and support your business through all steps on the way. These are the things you need to consider when choosing and setting up your WMS.
Scale as your business grows. The first thing to have in mind when choosing a WMS is configurability and the ability to scale as your business grows. Bearing your customers in mind it is also important that your system is efficient with timely and qualitative deliveries.
Allow for integration. The WMS should also allow for integration such as voice picking or other features which will become necessary in the future. For example, we are working together with integrations such as Lydia Voice Solutions and Agrippa Solutions.
Chose sustainability. Speaking of the future, sustainability is a feature that you can’t afford to miss out on. Besides being a crucial part in the future of our planet, a more sustainable warehouse also makes your production smarter and more cost efficient.
Schenker and Logent are two companies that have considered these factors above. Read more about their success stories to get inspired.
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