WMS – An Overview

The evolution of warehouse management systems (WMS) has followed a very similar track as that of many other software solutions. While originally created to monitor the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse, the role of WMS has grown in scope to integrate itself with many aspects of manufacturing, including traffic management, order management, and even complete accounting systems such as Accpac ERP.

Although WMS continues to expand its functionality, the basic premise for a WMS remains unchanged. The primary purpose of a WMS solution is to control the movement and storage of inventory within an organization and process their associated transactions. Directed picking, directed replenishment, and directed put away are the key processes for every WMS. The detailed setup and processing within a WMS can vary significantly from one software solution to another, however, the basic logic will use a combination of item, location, quantity, unit of measure, and order information to determine where to place stock, where to pick from, and in what sequence to perform these operations.

The primary purposes for implementing a WMS solution are to give your organization increases in accuracy, reduction in labor costs (assuming the time saved in the warehouse is greater than time needed to maintain the system), and a greater ability to service the customer by reducing cycle times. There are, however, some common misconceptions regarding this type of solution. While increased accuracy and efficiencies in the receiving process may reduce the level of minimum stock required, the impact of this reduction will likely be negligible in comparison to overall inventory levels. The predominant factors that control inventory levels are lot sizing, lead times, and demand variability. It is unlikely that a WMS will have a significant impact on any of these factors. Additionally, while a WMS solution certainly provides the tools for more organized storage which may result in increased storage capacity, this improvement will be relative to just how disorganized your pre-WMS processes were.

Beyond labor efficiencies, the determining factors in deciding to implement a WMS solution tend to be more often associated with the need to do something to service your customers that your current system is unable to do such as first-in-first-out, cross-docking, automated pick replenishment, wave picking, lot tracking or serial tracking,

As you can see, there is more to WMS than meets the eye. From its humble beginnings of merely tracking inventory, the WMS solution has evolved to touch almost every facet of a company. This solution is not suitable for every business, but for those who need it, WMS can become a valuable tool to not only increase your company’s efficiency and profitability but also help to increase your customers’ satisfaction and retention.

If you have any questions or need additional assistance, please contact your Axis consultant or email us at info@axisgp.com for more information.

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