Choosing the Right Warehouse Management System to Implement

Choosing the Right Warehouse Management System to Implement

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) helps a business organize and control activity in its warehouse(s). A WMS can help increase the efficiency of warehouse operations and inventory accuracy.

This blog discusses the factors to consider when choosing the best WMS for your business.

What does a WMS do?

At its core, a WMS helps companies:

  • Optimize the floor plan of the warehouse
  • Manage receiving inventory and placing them in bins
  • Picking orders from bins
  • Transferring items within the warehouse
  • Performing inventory counts
  • Manage returned and damaged items

Who uses a WMS?

Industries that frequently use a WMS to coordinate warehouse activities include:

  • Manufacturers need to track different types of inventory, such as raw materials and components used in the manufacturing process, work in progress, and finished items.
  • Food and beverage companies must maintain proper environmental controls (temperature, humidity, etc.) and track inventory shelf life to prevent spoilage.
  • Healthcare must maintain lot and serial tracking as well as take environmental considerations into account.
  • Retailers and distributors must track the receipt of items in inventory and order shipments of inventory items to clients.

Selecting the right WMS to implement

Before selecting a WMS, it is important to answer some critical questions first, such as:

  • How big is the warehouse?
  • How many people are involved in receiving, picking, and shipping inventory?
  • How complex is your shipping process?

Types of WMS

The simplest form of warehouse operation is one where the business sells a single product. The product is picked and shipped to the client when orders are received.

Companies that keep multiple types of items in inventory have a more sophisticated way of managing their warehouse using bins. Incoming items in receiving are logged and stored in a specific bin for that item. Bins for fast-moving items are generally easier to access than infrequently requested items.

While it is possible to keep track of each item by hand, manual processes are time-consuming and prone to error. Instead, most companies employ hand scanners with bar codes or RFIDs to keep track of their inventory. If items are moved to another part of the warehouse, that movement must also be recorded.

From simple to complex

As warehouse operations become more complex, the need for a WMS is even more pronounced. For instance, if a company grows from managing a 1,000-square-foot warehouse space to a 100,000-square-foot space, the old process will not scale to meet the new requirements: The number of bins and items in inventory begins to multiply, inventory counts can no longer be conducted over a weekend, warehouse staff is separated and given assigned duties and tasks, hand scanners are no longer optional. You will want more controls and more system-driven processes.

Now, the location of items of items within the warehouse has become critical, particularly in situations when the company has a limited amount of space or uses Just In Time inventory. Inventory might be separated into zones, such as refrigerated and non-refrigerated, with different staff to support each zone. The warehouse has become much busier, so the picking process must be optimized, and the items that will expire first must be picked first.

The company needs a warehouse management system to help organize these operations by mapping the location of items in the warehouse and giving staff a pick list showing the most efficient route within the warehouse to pick the items for shipment.

Companies with seasonal peaks in business often need to hire temporary workers who are inexperienced in the company’s warehouse processes. These workers often require the WMS to provide explicit, step-by-step instructions.

The value of WMS integration with Business Central

A WMS helps optimize your warehouse operations’ efficiency and expedite order processing. Integrating your WMS with Business Central provides visibility into your inventory’s cost and movement, supply chain, and order fulfillment.

At ArcherPoint, we help you digitize and optimize your warehouse workflow. If you have problems or questions on how to improve your warehouse processes, contact ArcherPoint today.

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