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Does Your Warehouse Management Software (WMS) Support Your Business?

4 years ago
Rita K

Does your Warehouse Management Software (WMS) support your business? Does your WMS partner support your future? Some things to consider…

Change happens. Sometimes it happens, but you don’t know about it. That may be the situation with your WMS.

Most WMS systems are hampered by antiquated coding language and / or a conceptual approach that divides the various aspects of warehouse planning, receiving, putaway, picking, and shipping activities into discrete elements. The coding language can be problematic when integrating with other software platforms in use by your business. The conceptual framework of creating discrete activities that must be integrated with each other creates an unnecessarily complex matrix of data connections that can make it difficult to get accurate, real-time information.

A WMS created in modern coding language that conceptually manages activities as integrated, rather than discrete activities reflects the most up-to-date and functional approach available in today’s software marketplace.

The good news is that a modern state-of-the-art WMS has other advantages, as well.

Using Radio Frequency (RF) technology, the accuracy of “back end” operations is dramatically improved. The RF equipment won’t let workers make mistakes. This feature also significantly reduces training time. Paper is eliminated. The warehouse personnel are directed with error-proof RF instructions to perform tasks in the most efficient and productive method possible.Every worker is routed through the warehouse and will pick the optimal amount of inventory, following the most logical warehouse path, with the right equipment (forklift, pallet jack, etc.), and will pick the inventory based on optimal picking strategy instead of picking based on specific orders.
What does that mean? Imagine that you have 50 orders that include multiple items, but each order includes one green widget. You don’t want 50 warehouse workers going out 50 times to pick 50 green widgets.

You want 1 warehouse worker going out 1 time to pick 50 green widgets and deliver them to the shipping department where your WMS will automatically associate the picked items with customer orders. The first time you create paper is when the shipping documentation is created to manifest the shipment. Everything else was organized and controlled by the WMS and communicated by the RF equipment. Picking efficiency and accuracy is improved tremendously. Training time is decreased by an enormous amount. Personnel requirements are reduced. The ability to respond to seasonal increases in demand is incredibly enhanced. Your business is ready to go to the next level. Beyond RF automation and the elimination of paper, you might also consider other automation processes for your company.  These can fall into “physical” and “virtual” categories, such as conveyors and automated inventory replenishment systems.

Too often a business falls into the trap of concluding that “if one is good, two must be better.”  That doesn’t always apply when considering the level of automation that might be right for your company. Every business must address the challenge of deciding how much automation is appropriate. Certainly, a company that sells 10 tractors a day won’t want to use a conveyor. Conversely, a company that sells 5,000 green widgets a day would be foolish not to consider conveyorization. A company that has a complex raw material ordering process (for example, a company that has to purchase wheat for cereal production and must anticipate the price of wheat 12 months into the future) won’t want to have automatic inventory replenishment in place. Whereas, a company that sells on the Internet and must ensure inventory availability to sustain high rankings on Amazon might jeopardize those rankings unless inventory replenishment orders are placed automatically as in-stock inventory is consumed.

Only you can assess what level of automation will work for your company.

Some WMS providers (who also supply, or at least recommend, various automation solutions) would have you believe that you can construct a mathematical equation to assess this. That isn’t likely. However, it is recommended that you conduct a sophisticated, comprehensive evaluation of whether automation is right for your business. What is your employee cost? Employee training time? Picking efficiency? Picking and shipping accuracy?Stock-out history? Duplicate data entry? Data accuracy? Order receipt to shipment time? Ability to respond to seasonal demands? Customer satisfaction with current fulfillment times?

Nobody can give you a complete list of the factors you need to consider, because nobody can understand your business without a thorough understanding of your business. The best WMS provider will spend time in your company, talking to your personnel, reviewing your processes and your data, before recommending a solution. The right WMS partner can be invaluable. It’s the teamwork between you and the WMS provider that will create the optimal solution and give you the best support for your current and future business.

Other important considerations include data integrity and data transparency.  Is the information going into and coming out of your system accurate? Is it available, in real time, to everybody who needs it? Does your current system hamstring your customer service representatives? Do your sales personnel have immediate access to your inventory and shipping information? Do you have the right information, in the right place, at the right time?

As noted above, much of the ability to provide accurate data instantly is dependent on the structure of your WMS – in what coding language it was written and how the structure of the system is conceived.

For all of these reasons, you need the best possible WMS partner, with the most modern WMS solutions, with the most experience in evaluating your operations and recommending the optimal blend of automation and process control for your company. You need Avectous Integrated Software as your WMS partner.


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