WMS - Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) is software and processes that allow organizations to control and administer warehouse operations from the time goods or materials enter a warehouse until they move out.
A WMS handles the orchestration of tasks involved with:
- Inbound and outbound operations
- Inventory tracking
- Processing orders and shipments
- Inventory cycle counts
- Order processing and shipping
Using a database that has been configured to support the operation of a warehouse, a warehouse system is a powerful tool to drive efficiency and accuracy across the business.The warehouse management software provides the means of warehouse control, enabling facility managers to have visibility into processes, labor resource activity, and much more.
Data involving operational processes flows into the warehouse system software from automated data capture methods such as barcode scanners, mobile computers and RFID enabled devices. The data is then used throughout the system to track inventory through the progression of warehouse processes.
Types of warehouse management systems
WMS come in a variety of types and implementation methods, and the type typically depends on the size and nature of the organization. They can be stand-alone systems or modules in a larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or supply chain execution suite.
They can also vary widely in complexity. Some small organizations may use a simple series of hard copy documents or spreadsheet files, but most larger organizations - from small to medium-sized businesses to enterprise companies - use complex and smart warehouse system. Some warehouse management solutions are designed specifically for the size of the organization, and many vendors have versions of WMS products that can scale to different organizational sizes. Some organizations build their own warehouse software from scratch, but it's more common to implement a WMS from an established vendor.
A WMS can also be designed or configured for the organization's specific requirements; for example, an e-commerce vendor might use a WMS that has different functions than a brick-and-mortar retailer. Additionally, an enterprise WMS may also be designed or configured specifically for the types of goods the organization sells; for example, a sporting goods retailer would have different requirements than a grocery chain.
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F.A.Q. about WMS - Warehouse Management System
How does using a Warehouse Management System help a business be more competitive?
Today, businesses across the supply chain use warehouses to store goods on their way to customers. Whether the goods are destined for consumers, retailers, manufacturers or other business entities, it is important that whatever goods are ordered, shipped and delivered are processed properly, quickly, reliably and accurately.
The speed at which operational processes are performed, whether in a fulfillment center, third party logistics warehouse or distribution center is often a critical factor.
Using a WMS products that is appropriate for the needs of your operation can help you optimize operational processes for greater efficiency, enhance labor productivity, provide valuable insight into your operation and enable you to compete for, win and retain clients.
Here are some other reasons why using a management warehouse system gives your business a competitive edge:
- Enables stringent inventory management and inventory control capabilities.
Helps ensure optimal handling, storage, processing and tracking of inventory. Increased operational efficiency helps keep costs and errors down, critical in attracting and retaining clients.
- Real time information visibility.
These days, data is seamlessly transmitted across the warehouse and along the supply chain. Using warehouse software solutions with automated data collection such as barcode scanners, mobile computers or RFID enables the capture and use of vital information for quick decision making and planning.
- Automated operations reduce errors, wasted time and inefficiency from manual operations and workarounds.
Many warehousing management solutions are now workflow-based or workflow-driven. This means that the WMS can automate the execution of work, step-by-step to ensure greater accuracy. Not only is this important for efficiency and error reduction but also for ensuring that quality control and quality assurance processes are carried out in conjunction with established SOPs. This can prove especially critical when dealing with temperature-sensitive products, fragile inventory and perishable goods.
- Speed, agility and reliability of warehouse operations.
Speed and agility are critical factors in warehouse operations and provide keen competitive advantage, especially if you are competing against a rival that is still using a legacy WMS or no system at all. A cutting-edge warehouse management software solutions make use of data to plan, execute and report on operations reliably, quickly and efficiently and can adapt to changing business conditions.
- Enhanced workforce productivity, essential to daily operations.
Using a WMS helps provide your business with key metrics to use to properly manage, train and engage with your workforce. Getting the most work done in less time with fewer errors means that there will be less work done researching and correcting errors and billing. This lowers the burden on customer service representatives so that they can focus on providing top quality support.