A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software program that maintains all of the data and materials required for a warehouse to operate as an efficient, modern facility.
It’s critical that a warehouse implements a great WMS to keep up with technological advancements and best practices in the industry. A WMS can make or break a warehouse’s success and investing in a high-quality program will set a warehouse apart from its competition. A properly integrated WMS can increase inventory visibility, streamline workflows, scale operations, improve organizational systems, improve customer service, reduce picking errors, lower operational costs, and more. Unlike the rigid WMS programs of yesteryear, modern WMSs are fully customizable and flexible for use in any warehouse.
Here are some benefits that a warehouse can hope to see after investing in a great WMS.
Reduced Costs Across the Board
A well-designed WMS does more than just store information. A great WMS will also reduce a warehouse’s operating costs, allowing for more company investment and improvement. A solid program will use algorithms to plan the most effective use of both space and labor. Using software to oversee internal inventory control, expenses, operational processes, and daily employee tasks can help optimize a warehouse’s financials. More advanced programs can provide managers with floor simulators to facilitate floor planning, item staging, and product storage ultimately reducing expensive waste.
Improving the management of perishable and date-restricted stock decreases waste and saves money and time for everyone, so many WMSs support FIFO (First In First Out) and LIFO (Last In First Out). These accounting methodologies give managers the ability to configure their warehouses for peak efficiency by calculating the best locations for products based on their picking frequency, effort, and priority. This information is then used to systematically optimize worker travel paths to reduce unnecessary labor. Labor generally costs around 65% of the average warehouse budget, so a great inventory management system will track how resources are being used and how it can shape the optimal workflow using time and effort efficiently.
Smarter Use of Space
A warehouse with a high-quality WMS can make significant improvements to its use of storage and space. Since warehouses charge by area, a warehouse must use all of its usable floor and shelf space in order to make the most out of its resources. A WMS will give managers full visibility of their inventory, allowing them to determine their stocking needs. Warehouse managers can quickly locate items using one of several categorization factors and create faster product turnover by reducing lead times. A great WMS will organize a warehouse’s space to fit the maximum number of goods in the space allotted.
Warehousing requires efficiency and accuracy, and a great WMS can help managers improve workflow and cut slack. WMS software can determine what picking, packing, and re-stocking methods are most effective, and using the company’s employee information, it can divide them amongst workers strategically. A WMS can create schedules and assign tasks to employees using the data it has about their skills, physical locations, and regular daily tasks. This information gives managers a better, broader understanding of the limits of their workspace and workforce, which allows them to better track KPIs using labor forecasting. Labor forecasting facilitates scheduling workers for maximum efficiency, tracking top performers, and giving an insight into future training needs.
Compatibility with Today’s Technology
Barcode scanners and other modern, advanced picking methods create real-time inventory lists that can be quickly reviewed, accepted, or rejected. Scanning barcodes is more efficient than manually entering numbers as it eliminates human error—workers will immediately be notified of a mistake. Overall, increased efficiency and accuracy reduces costs and errors while improving profits and customer satisfaction.
Enhancing inventory visibility is crucial to maintaining a successful and profitable warehouse. A great WMS documents every movement of every item in the warehouse using real-time data entry from barcodes, serial numbers, and RFID tags. This information can be pulled at any time to create forecasts to help leadership decide which products to invest in. Increasing transparency improves the traceability of items, which decreases the work required during recalls. Knowing the serial numbers of recalled items allows employees to target only the damaged goods. Trustworthy and complete records reduce the need to house safety stock, and effective teamwork and inventory tracking will allow high-volume shipments to move across the dock. Running a lean operation is critical for maintaining a warehouse’s bottom line.
Safer and More Secure Processes
Some WMS programs require each employee to use their own individual account for each transaction they complete. This creates an audit trail that fosters accountability and reduces the risk of theft. Employers can use this information to determine what kind of additional training is needed. Often a WMS with individual accounts will have user-based access levels to prevent unauthorized access; users can only access reports and analyses that concern their work. This allows warehouses to ensure that only qualified workers are working with high-risk items. A great WMS can automatically separate items of high-value or hazardous nature from the other inventory in order to keep workers safe. Accidents happen, but with an automated system, warehouse managers can minimize the fallout.
An optimized warehouse is an efficient warehouse, and a great WMS can help improve how items are moved around the space. Workers can use WMS-based planning tools to determine the best dates and times to schedule shipments, picks, and transfers based on the resources and staff available. A WMS can also decide the ideal type of picking for a task based on other jobs in the area to minimize effort and prevent traffic. The software can assign tasks based on employee location, saving time and energy while increasing productivity. For best results, a WMS should be integrated into every aspect of the warehouse—sales, order management, accounts, inventory, and finance—to keep all documents and reports up-to-date and consistent across all departments.
Improved Supplier and Customer Satisfaction
A fully-integrated WMS contains all the information and data needed to make a warehouse successful, making it key to improving supplier and customer relationships. Proper and modern warehouse management facilitates visibility, efficiency, organization, space optimization, and schedulability, which ultimately allow customers to enjoy enhanced order fulfilment, reduced wait times, and fewer order inaccuracies. Having all data in one place means that a salesperson or warehouse employee can answer any question, from anywhere, quickly and accurately. A warehouse that streamlines its functionality through the implementation of a fantastic WMS will improve its reputation significantly within the industry. Fewer errors and issues results in more sales and satisfied customers.
Customer Service You Can Rely On
Store More With Us
We provide short and long-term storage for businesses of all sizes and industries. Let’s talk about the importance of inventory control and how we can help you and your business store and transport efficiently and accurately.