Most businesses with warehouses use warehouse management software to keep tabs with their business operations. They come in handy in among other things keeping everything organized. In this article we aim to define a warehouse management system, look at its features and some of the benefits it brings to the table.
What is a warehouse management system?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a system that gives a business the visibility into its assets, logistics, inventory and fulfillment operations. With the WMS a business can monitor every item across all its locations.
It ensures that operations are managed efficiently, while helping you control processes such as picking, receiving, inventory tracking and order fulfillment. This in turn leads to shipment and inventory accuracy, worker efficiency, cost reduction and better material handling.
By providing real time information in an accurate manner, a warehouse management system exempts employees from the tedious task of having to constantly physically account for inventory. Powerful automation features, bar code and QR code scanning help in tracking inventory in real-time.
Companies can also benefit from the detail rich reports the system creates that can help in forecasting demand, claiming depreciating assets or generating a balance sheets quickly.
Features of a warehouse management system
Below are some of the key features that a good warehouse management system should include:
Barcode and QR scanning
Barcode and QR code scanning help to save time and speed up almost all inventory related tasks. They make inventory counts and checking in and checking out of items faster while at the same time reducing human error. A good WMS should also let you use already available equipment like smartphones and tablets as scanners.
An end-to-end inventory dashboard
A detailed dashboard where you can review all you have at hand is essential in a WMS. It acts as a robust checklist for all that you may want to check. If the dashboard can have high-resolution pictures it will be a plus.
Ability to generate and print barcode and QR code labels
The right WMS should be able to generate barcodes and QR codes for unlabeled stocks that can then be customized and printed for them.
Since all the data is stored in the system you can extract the numbers and figures you want for the purpose of creating customized reports for staff or even customers. This helps in providing forecasting insights for the business and also improves visibility.
Low stock alerts
Creating a low stock alert in your WMS is essential. This will help prevent a work stoppage due to a stockout. With the alert the person responsible will be notified in time for restocking before stock runs out. This will help to maintain productivity and profitability.
When selecting a WMS for your warehouse settle on one that supports multiple users and can allow you to customize access levels while at the same time having the ability to work on multiple devices. This is due to the fact that a good WMS should be able to be used by a team and not a small clique of people.
A good WMS should let you customize things like folders and tags or look of your system to your liking. This gives you the feeling of ownership of you inventory system.
Benefits of warehouse management system
A WMS has many benefits it comes with. Below are some of the benefits that it will bring to your business:
Reduce operating costs
A good WMS will lead to a reduction in your operating costs. It ensures effective use of labor and minimizes space wastage. It helps you determine where you will keep certain products, equipment or materials to optimize flow of the warehouse and in the end saving both time and money in the process.
BY providing real time data of the inventory through serial numbers and barcodes WMS improves inventory visibility. A user can document an item when it enters the warehouse, its movement in the floor and from one location to another.
This visibility in turn helps in forecasting to for example identify the products that are more popular with customers. Which helps the business to know which product to invest more in, and identify another that is not doing well.
WMS require users to use their individual accounts to carry out transactions. This enhances accountability and therefore reducing the risk of theft or loss.
User-based access also ensures only authorized access to reports and analysis ensuring that information that secretive in nature is only accessed by only those authorized.
Efficient Labor management
WMS provide solutions such as labor forecasting and KPIs, which warehouse managers, can use to determine when they need more staff and when they require less. They can also identify top performers and notice those that need to improve.
Increase employee morale
Employees tend to feel better and enjoy their work when things flow seamlessly. This in turn reflects to better productivity on their part. While WMS is not the cure for everything in your work force it can reduce work related stress and bring a more relaxed atmosphere and organized work environment.
Strengthen customer and supplier relations
WMS makes it possible to optimize both supply and demand chains. This is made possible by the high inventory visibility and the ability to schedule receipt of shipments. Suppliers therefore benefit by having less waiting time at loading bays and docks.
Customers on the other hand experience reduced delivery periods and lesser order inaccuracies. Both the suppliers and customers enjoy better service in the end.
With a well-designed WMS platform your business can quickly experience success and profitability. When selecting one to use ensure it has the important features that can accommodate your businesses unique demands, some of which we have discussed so as gain maximum benefit from it. Get one for your company and enjoy all the benefits that come with a warehouse management system.
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