The Different Uses of a WMS


Before the advent of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) most processes in a warehouse were manually based. The objective of a warehouse management system is to provide a set of computerized procedures for management of warehouse inventory with the goal of minimising cost and fulfilment times as well as improving customer service. Inventories and the functions required to manage them are further complicated by the demands of business to business customers. What follows is a summary of the different uses that a WMS can have.

Inventory Control
A modern business needs to run with as few operating costs as is possible. A fully featured WMS can help cut expenses by minimising the volume of stock held at any one time. Replenishment thresholds can be set so that stock is ordered once they are crossed. Seasonal thresholds can help manage peak demands without the need to resort to more staff. Stock returns from a customer can have a significant impact on margins and processes for controlling them will be integrated into a WMS.

Inventory Analysis
Regular analysis of stock movements can provide management with further insight into ways of making operations more efficient. By tracking the location of stock in a warehouse and comparing it with supplier details and length of time the stock is in the warehouse, replenishment can be managed to ensure that use of floor space in the warehouse is kept to a minimum. Smaller warehouses require less staff and less equipment which means that routines of this type can significantly reduce an organizations operating costs.

Warehouse Modelling
The layout of a large warehouse facility can significantly impact the speed with which customer orders can be processed, picked and packed. A WMS will contain functionality that models the most efficient layouts. Goods that are frequently ordered together will be placed on shelving close to each other to minimise the time moving between palettes and stacks.

Order Processing
Order processing requires there to be a seamless transition between replenishment routines and logistics. For maximum flexibility stock can needs to be picked in whatever order is required. Logistics capabilities will impact the sequence that orders are processed and dispatched from the warehouse.

Financial Management
Credit control and invoicing routines can integrate very closely with a WMS. Automatic batch updates as well as real time processing can support an organisation’s financial records. End of year audits will be easier to verify when there is a known link between all elements of a WMS, the sales ledger and the purchase ledger.

B2B Ecommerce
With the advent of the internet the traditional boundaries between the customers stock room and the suppliers warehouse have become blurred. On line retailers require a close integration with their supply chains that allows their end customers to see goods in stock when they may still reside in a supplier’s warehouse.

Open systems allow online retailers to interface with a variety of WMS to provide their customers with the highest levels of stock availability. Frequently, when a customer purchases an item from an online store, that item may still be residing in a supplier’s warehouse, purchased but not yet delivered.

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