How Does a WMS Work?
The implementation of a warehouse management system (WMS) enables businesses to become a leaner and much more efficient operation. This is enabled by being able to track goods through the use of computer software, handheld scanners, printed labels and other useful material that ensures products can be followed right through the supply chain.
This proves to be invaluable for optimising the way in which products are received, ordered, stored and shipped out to customers. Being able to keep a close eye on products means manufacturers and distributors are always fully aware of where the stock is at all times, even when it leaves the facility.
Whether it’s through an in-house server, or by using a cloud hosting service, a WMS system ensures a fully rounded service can be provided at all times to their customers. The orders are broken down into batches by the system which is verified by the location of the products. Throughout their journey to and from the warehouse they are scanned to ensure they remain on route. This continues within the storage facility which allows different departments to ensure the products continue to move through the supply chain.
What a WMS measures
In order to track the products, a WMS needs to quantify the data using specific measuring tools. These data units usually include:
- SKU Data
This will be things such as batch codes, barcodes, manufacturing dates, weight, SKU and ID labels. It can also be things like carton and pallet dimensions, packaging type, quantities.
The WMS will want to check the storage types, pick sequence, storage restrictions, shelf and bin numbers, capacities, delivery docks, warehouse door numbers as identifiable criteria.
- Staff productivity
Items picked/stored per person, throughput, pick journey time, errors and which staff have been allocated to specific tasks.
Depending on how the WMS system has been configured, this data will be used to understand how the processes are working and where everything is located at any given time.
How the WMS benefits the warehouse
Once you have sight of this information it will help you plan and organise the warehouse far more efficiently. You will have a clearer idea on the amount of staff that should be allocated to certain tasks to ensure your SKU is being maximised wherever possible. Storage space can be put to use more effectively and goods can be stored in areas that can increase the throughput.
The end goal is, of course, improving the service your offer to your customers. This can only be done by making the in-house processes and use of the staff more efficient. The installation of a WMS system will help to create a leaner picking and packing process. This should help you to avoid the development of bottlenecks, or for any major delays occurring in this early stage of the supply chain.
By having access to all this valuable data, it allows the management to break down each functional park in measurable performance milestones. These can then be translated into detailed costs which help towards budgeting and reducing any unnecessary expenditure. It becomes much easier to identify where any issues exist within the process so they can be reviewed and improved. The data coming out of the WMS will quickly show if the required benchmarks are being achieved, or if further tweaks need to be made.
The use of this sort of data will soon become invaluable after the WMS has been installed. Your logistical footprint becomes leaner and far more effective in achieving its goals at both ends of the supply chain. From shipping and stock handling, through to processing returned goods, it helps to reduce sale losses and improve customer satisfaction.