Key Benefits of Warehouse Management Systems

Warehouse management systems are commonly used to improve efficiency and record keeping. They can enhance customer service levels and assist with management decision making, for example, on designing storage requirements and shelving systems. Here’s a quick guide to the major benefits of warehouse management systems.

What is WMS?

Warehouse management systems (WMS) are a combination of technology and process used to improve warehouse efficiency and functions. A good WMS will record everything from the beginning to the closure of the cycle, covering all the stages from supplier receipts to customer delivery. It will then allow you to record, access, and analyse all the stock and inventory movements and review any information or communications that occurred during the product delivery cycle.

Many WMS are incorporated into a wider information and technology process – the organisation’s enterprise resource planning system. However, lots of warehouses can benefit from having their own stand-alone system to facilitate management decision making no matter how simple the WMS is. The goal of an WMS is not only to keep track of everything but to improve efficiency and customer service by allowing the review of stock flows and how tasks are carried out in the warehouse.

Use of Warehouse Space

WMS can be used to improve the use of warehouse space by letting warehouse managers work out where items are located. Managers can reorganise the layout of the warehouse to support pickers who need to access certain stock categories more quickly, for example, by introducing more high density storage solutions like pallet racking. This improves productivity and reduces inventory holding times and costs.

Paperwork Reduction and Record Keeping

Reducing the need for paperwork in the warehouse supports efficiency and productivity. As the information flow is transparent and automated, there’s less scope for error in recording, leading to better records and accuracy. No hard copies can get lost and the system can be programmed to perform automatic backups to prevent electronic loss.

For the same reasons, record keeping is optimised when organisations use a formal WMS for their inventory. When implemented across the whole organisation, data entry repetition is minimised, helping the organisation reduce labour and overhead costs.

Reduce Lead Times

Greater transparency can reduce lead times and minimise the need for holding excess safety stock. Customer preferences and orders can be closely tracked, encouraging shortened inventory holding times, and in turn reducing overhead and labour costs.

Facilitates Decision Making

WMS facilitate better decision making in the following ways.

  • Instant overview – managers have access to an instant overview of the warehouse
  • Better capacity management – improved transparency means a more accurate picture of stock capacity and better decision making about supplies.
  • Cycle predictions – managers can make more accurate decisions about stocks levels, staff needs, and supply requirements for different points in the sales cycle.
  • Staff productivity – managers can view staff productivity information.
  • Standardisation – a good WMS allows everyone – warehouse staff, managers, and pickers – to be on the same page about working processes and methods, reducing the potential for errors and costly mistakes.

Customer Service

WMS can support improvements in customer service standards. Accurate inventory levels encourages shorter lead times. Product information given to customers is usually more accurate and realistic, especially when it comes to delivery dates.

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