WMS – What it is and why it is essential

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a computer system designed to manage activities within a warehouse or distribution center. 

More specifically, a WMS is specialized software that helps businesses manage them warehouse activities.
At the basis of its development, more specifically, is the simplification and theautomation of the daily activities of the warehouse: from the receipt of the goods to the shipping of the orders.

The main objective of a WMS is, therefore, to optimize efficiency and precision of warehouse operations, improving the visibility, control and traceability of goods flows.

But let's understand better the characteristics and advantages of a system that is an essential prerogative for the digital transformation, for the creation of the so-called warehouses 4.0, and therefore with a view to an adaptation to the paradigm of logistics 4.0.

What are the features of a WMS

Depending on your warehouse needs, a WMS can be customized to meet your company's specific needs and include different features. 

Among these, first and foremost, the inventory management. The WMS, in fact, keeps track of the movement of products within the warehouse, including entries and exits, location, counting and traceability of batches.

It goes without saying that a WMS is the perfect ally for order management. This software is capable of managing customer orders, planning order picking and preparation activities, optimizing picking and assembly routes, and managing shipments.

Another interesting feature is that of quality control, as the WMS can integrate these controls into inventory management, providing information on expired, defective or overproduced inventory.

That of work planning and managementFurthermore, it is one of the functions for which more and more companies cannot do without a WMS. The latter, in fact, assigns work activities to employees, plans maintenance activities and manages warehouse resources.

The key word, therefore, is automation

A WMS, as we have seen, can independently manage various activities within the warehouse, such as:

  • Receipt of goods: Recording the goods received from the supplier, assigning a warehouse location and updating the inventory level.
  • Picking and handling: assignment of tasks to warehouse workers for the collection and movement of goods within the warehouse.
  • Packaging and shipping: creation of transport documents, assignment of couriers and organization of shipment of goods.
  • Inventory control: monitoring of inventory and rotation of goods, management of stocks and safety stocks.

Finally, the WMS, being able to be integrated with warehouse automation systems, facilitates the interconnection of systems such as automated picking, automatic conveyors and warehouse robots.

In this case we are therefore talking about System Integration, prerogative of System Integrator. The new frontier for companies that truly want to innovate their system processes, in the context of which they are increasingly inserted with greater frequency and interest on the part of companies, Collaborative Robots (Cobot).

What are the advantages of a WMS for companies

The benefits of a WMS, we understood by reeling off its features, include reducing inventory errors, maximizing the use of warehouse space, optimizing operations and reducing labor costs. 

In detail, the advantages of a WMS for companies are therefore the following:

  • Improved efficiency: A WMS automates many repetitive warehouse tasks, such as inventory management and goods picking. This allows you to reduce errors and increase the productivity of warehouse workers.
  • Space optimization: a WMS allows you to organize storage spaces efficiently, reducing waste and maximizing the use of available space.
  • Greater inventory accuracy: A WMS helps in accurately monitoring the inventory level and keeping track of safety stocks. This helps reduce inventory errors and ensures that goods are always available when needed.
  • Cost reduction: Using a WMS can reduce warehouse management costs, for example by optimizing storage spaces and reducing inventory errors.
  • Improved customer service: A WMS helps ensure that goods are always available and ready for shipment, improving the speed and reliability of deliveries.

Added to these is the possibility for entrepreneurs and business managers to be able to track in real time of warehouse operations, enabling them to make informed decisions and continuously improve operational processes.

Application contexts

Warehouse Management Systems have a wide range of uses in different sectors and industries. Some examples include:

  • Production: A WMS can be used to manage warehouse activities in manufacturing, including sourcing materials, equipment, and work-in-process goods.
  • Retail: A WMS can be used to manage inventory and order picking in retail company warehouses.
  • Distribution: A WMS can be used to manage warehouse activities in a distribution center, including inventory, order processing, picking, and shipping.
  • Logistics: A WMS can be used to manage the supply chain, tracking and coordinating the transportation of products from one location to another.
  • Food industry: A WMS can be used to ensure food safety by tracking the origin of ingredients, their storage and expiration.
  • Pharmaceutical industry: A WMS can be used to ensure traceability of medicines, from production to delivery to the patient, to ensure the safety and effectiveness of medicines.

More generally, any business involving the management of a warehouse, goods movement and inventory can benefit from the implementation of a WMS. 

Thanks to its ability to increase efficiency, improve accuracy and reduce operating costs, a WMS can indeed be a competitive advantage for companies looking to improve the management of their warehouse operations.

How to implement a WMS

A WMS can be implemented as stand-alone software or integrated into a system ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) o SCM (Supply Chain Management) existing.

This is also why the implementation of a warehouse management system requires, first of all,in-depth analysis of company and warehouse needs itself, in order to choose the most suitable WMS solution.

From design to development, and up to the subsequent monitoring and maintenance phases, we could therefore identify 5 steps to perform for the implementation of a WMS:

  1. Requirements analysis: the first step is to analyze the needs of the company and the warehouse. This phase includes the definition of the functional and non-functional requirements of the WMS, the evaluation of warehouse processes, the definition of objectives and performance indicators.
  2. WMS selection: based on the requirements analysis, the company must select the WMS system best suited to its needs. This may require evaluating different WMS solutions on the market, through evaluating their costs, their functionality and their ability to integrate with other business systems.
  3. Planning and development: Once the WMS has been selected, the company must proceed with the design and development of the system. This phase includes the configuration of the WMS system, the integration with other company systems, the definition of workflows and business rules.
  4. Testing and training: Once the WMS is implemented, the company must test the system to ensure that it works properly. Additionally, it is important to provide the necessary training to warehouse employees to ensure that they are able to use the system effectively.
  5. Go-live and post-implementation support: Once testing and training are complete, the WMS system can be started. It is important to provide post-implementation support to ensure that the system functions correctly and that system users are able to resolve any issues that may occur.

Relying on the right partner always makes the difference

Overall, implementing a WMS system takes time and resources, but the benefits to your business can be significant. 

The choice of right technological partner, the definition of a detailed planning and the training adequate staffing they are therefore fundamental for a correct implementation of the WMS system.

In TOD System we take care of every aspect of the digital transformation of warehouses, providing robotic solutions advanced and customized to the needs of each company.

Thanks to our WMS, e smart WMS, we help companies in their alignment to the logistics 4.0 paradigm, supporting them in every phase of the planning.
From development, to training, assistance and technical consultancy.

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