Warehouse productivity is one of the most crucial aspects of the order fulfilment process. Inefficient warehouse operations can lead to significant delays in production, preventing speedy deliveries to your customers.
Whether you manage your order fulfilment in-house or outsource to a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider, the use of technology can elevate logistics to another level of efficiency.
Many now rely on the power of a warehouse management system (WMS), to ensure that the order fulfilment process remains as fast and accurate as possible.
This article outlines the purpose of a warehouse management system and how this helps support warehouse productivity.
What does a warehouse management system do?
A WMS is software that is used to organise movements within a warehouse, monitoring the moment stock enters the warehouse to the time that it is shipped out for delivery.
The aim is to provide complete visibility, ensuring that goods are stored, located, packed and shipped in the most efficient manner possible.
In today’s technological age, a WMS is often used alongside an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Transportation Management System (TMS).
What are the benefits of a warehouse management system?
Whilst a WMS can be expensive to run, its ability to provide real-time order data means that the benefits often outweigh the cost.
Some of the key benefits of a WMS include:
- Reduced labour costs
- Improved inventory accuracy
- Improved accuracy in picking and shipping goods
- Helps to eliminate human errors in manual processing
- Providing a better service to your customers
What are the features of a warehouse management system?
The key features of a WMS include:
Receipt of goods and shipping
A WMS is invaluable when it comes to the goods in and shipping process. The system can automatically register which goods have been received into the warehouse as well as the entire shipping process, ensuring end-to-end visibility.
Advanced warehouse management systems often come with a barcode scanner, which allows businesses to quickly locate stock, which can rapidly improve dispatch times and help monitor stock levels.
A WMS allows businesses to monitor the performance levels of individual warehouse staff members. This information can help identify individual employees who may be struggling and may require further training to help bring them up to speed.
Monitoring this data ensures that everyone within the warehouse is working to their full potential and that productivity is maximised.
What are the different kinds of warehouse management systems?
Warehouse management systems vary in complexity, with many factors influencing what kind of system is used by a particular business. Often this comes down to the size of the organisation and the nature of the work involved.
There are several different types of WMS which include:
A standalone system is the most basic WMS and is sometimes used by companies beyond warehouse management. Small to medium-sized businesses often use standalone systems as it is reasonably inexpensive to run.
The only setback is that it may not integrate well with other systems and usually does not cover other aspects of logistics other than warehouse management features.
Supply chain management
Supply chain management software, as the name suggests, goes beyond just warehouse management. This system covers a broad range of business processes from relationships with vendors to risk assessment. This type of system is ideal for larger organisations as it allows for integration with all aspects of the business.
Integrated with ERP
An ERP helps to manage many aspects of a business including accounting, human resources and compliance. These systems are also ideal options for large organisations as it helps monitor a great variety of business processes under one roof, ensuring scalability.
ERP systems are the most expensive option but can be incredibly resourceful for the right type of business.
Whilst smaller businesses may find it easier to manage their order fulfilment in-house, growing e-commerce companies may find it more beneficial to outsource the process to a 3PL provider.
3PL providers have access to all the latest technology as outlined above, to ensure that the order fulfilment process is as fast and efficient as possible.
If you feel like it could be time to outsource your order fulfilment, do not hesitate to give Pointbid a call on 0121 326 7368 to discover bespoke logistics solutions for your business.