Your warehouse management system (WMS) is the brain of your distribution operation. Choosing the right WMS for your business is critical for ensuring optimal warehouse operations and keeping your customers happy.
Whether you are installing your first WMS or upgrading to a new solution, it is important to match the features and functions of the solution to your warehouse needs and the needs of your customers/trading partners. Below are a few of the things to consider when evaluating warehouse management systems:
Scalability & Upgrade Path
“Land and Expand” is a concept where you Purchase or “land” on the system that fits your needs and budget today, then expands or grows into the system that you need for tomorrow. Make sure the provider you’re considering provides an upgrade path from its basic warehouse automation solution to a feature-rich WMS. Avoid a rip-and-replace scenario by choosing a partner who enables upgrades via license key.
Handheld Devices & Operating Systems
When evaluating a WMS, it’s important to consider compatibility with your enterprise handheld devices such as mobile computers, barcode scanners or RFID-readers. As well, you’ll want to ensure the operating system you move forward with is secure, supported well into the future, and includes an easy-to-use interface. An easy-to-use interface will substantially decrease new employee training time.
Cost & Time to Deploy
During your research phase, ask questions about the time and cost associated with WMS deployment. Are staff training services offered? Find out if thorough system documentation is provided. Get an idea of how long configuration and setup will take and whether you should anticipate any operational downtime. As well, ask about pricing models and the cost to add additional users or new functionality.
Why Do You Want WMS for Your Warehouse?
Develop insights into your business so you can understand where your roadblocks lie. Incorporating a WMS can help raise your efficiency in receiving, put-away, picking, shipping, and inventory management. You can increase on-time, accurate shipping percentages, and lower overtime costs. In the process, you’ll also garner insight into issues, and obtain an understanding of the problems that are holding your company back.
- The value of a WMS starts even before materials arrive at your warehouse. Best-in-breed WMS arecapable of receiving Advanced Shipping Notices. Requiring ASNs along with shipping pre-labeled materials enables your warehouse management system to automate the receiving queue and ensure that required staff members are alerted and prepared.
- Now that we’ve streamlined the unloading queue, our WMS can help optimize the verification of physical goods received. Utilizing integrated handheld computers with barcode scanning capabilities, warehouse workers can load purchase orders from the ERP and scan pre-labeled containers to reconcile received goods.
- Lastly, your WMS/ERP integration will allow the automatic creation of reception documents, which enables automatic putaway. This document will account for missing, damaged, and received materials, significantly decreasing man hours spent to manually create these documents for your vendors.
- Directed Put-away is a function of many best-in-breed warehouse management systems; it functions bylocating the most optimal area for your received materials based on ASNs. Optimizing the warehouse layout and location of goods means faster travel times, less aisle congestion, and higher productivity.
- Slotting Reports are WMS-produced reports that recommend product moves that will have significant impact on picking speed and productivity. Slotting reports take into account the fastest moving items and optimizes their location in your warehouse for travel time during the picking process.
- Cross-Docking is the process of immediately making received good available for order fulfillment or use with minimal handling. A modern WMS can flag a product for cross-docking by referencing an open order at the time of receipt.
Want more information about how a WMS can help your business? We’ve got several more tips and tricks for implementation, including how WMS can improve your picking process, packing and shipping, and more. Download the full ebook for everything you need to know about how WMS can transform your warehouse.