Basics of WMS Warehousing

What is a WHS and what does it do?

A WHS, short for Warehouse Management Software, is a software application. It is created specifically to control and optimize daily operations at a warehouse. And, it can be used as a part of a more extensive Enterprise Resource Planning system or by itself as an independent software. The software is capable of guiding the entire inventory of a warehouse. It can optimize sorting and shipping of orders, track inventory stock levels and suggest replenishment when needed, and also control the receiving and put-away of inventory.

The warehouse management system comes from humble beginnings. It initially was created to maintain a stock of the inventory and serve the fundamental needs of tracking storage location information. But with the years, the software has evolved and the scope of functions it can fulfil are quite vast. The end goal of the software is to achieve error-free productivity that helps employees to maintain optimised receiving, picking, put-away and shipping of products.

As a part of the operations, the software is capable of controlling quite a few aspects of warehousing. Let’s take a look at some of the more crucial ones:

 

  • Documentation
    A good WHS eliminates the need for heavy paperwork by maintaining all warehouse related documentation. This gives access to the relevant documents to all personnel simultaneously, keeping all up to date and removing the unnecessary time needed to allocate resources to paperwork.

 

  • Tracking Inventory
    Keeping a record of all the stock in a warehouse is a critical job. It needs to be updated frequently to ensure prevention of stock shortage or overstocking (which would result in sub-optimal utilisation of space.) The WHS tracks inventory and the staff is updated to ensure sharp management.

 

  • Storage Planning
    Smart and effective storage planning is one of the biggest strengths of any WMS. It not only arranges the stock in a manner that reduces the time it takes to store the stock, it also can plan storage as per your varying needs like weight, height, size etc. Besides saving time, it also plans out the storage in an efficient manner, thus preventing stock from unnecessary damage.

 

  • Receiving Products
    Not segregating your stock on arrival can result in crucial time wasted. A WHS not only sifts and sorts the arriving stock, it also ensures that the shipment is appropriately handled, thus reducing the chance of losses.

 

  • Picking and Shipping
    The role of a WMS in warehouse automation is to see to it that the correct product is picked as per the parameters set on for your business needs. The correct order needs to be shipped to the correct consumers and WMS is excellent at the job as it can do so with staggering accuracy.

 

  • Tracking and Visibility
    Certain industries require advanced visibility and tracking of products. A WMS provides that as it can simultaneously contain information of expiry dates, serial numbers and product codes. This ensures that any product related issue is through product information tracing.

How does one implement a basic WMS

The key thing is to manage expectations when implementing a basic WMS. You cannot expect a WMS to be a one-stop solution for all your warehousing needs. A good WMS implementation will ensure the execution of best practices for the execution of essential warehouse functions. So you should look for a WMS to facilitate the smooth tracking of products through transport and cycle counts when they are in the warehouse and then the picking and sending of the products to the shipping system.

What are the various types of WMS?

Some of the more popular types of WMS are as follows:

Cloud-based
The current trend of using cloud-based computing has filtered to the world of WMS software as well. A cloud-based WMS is a web-based software that provides a host of features at competitive pricing because it allows for software updates without the need for additional capital expenditure. Some of its strengths are scalability, flexibility and disaster recovery.

Standalone
The most common type of WMs is the standalone one. The way it is deployed is through the warehouse hardware and accompanying network. While standalone WMS’ are the cheapest cost option for warehouses, they come with a lot of operational challenges like data duplication and customization costs. They are best utilized with a more integrated WMS.

ERP Modules
The smoothest functioning WMS route is the one where the WMS is integrated with the Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP module. This allows for WMS to be baked into the ERP module and it has access to the interface at all time, with tracking of sales orders, shipping management, accounting and more features pre-packaged into the system.