The rise of warehouse management programs is a clear consequence of the growth experienced by logistics in recent years, due in part to the consolidation of e-commerce. According to consulting firm Grand View Research, the global market for warehouse management programs will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3% between 2021 and 2028.
Companies that incorporate this software can make the most of their logistics operations, bringing down costs and considerably boosting throughput across their entire supply chain. But what exactly are warehouse management programs? How do they work? We’ll lay it all out below.
What are warehouse management programs?
A warehouse management program, also known as a warehouse management system (WMS), is software specifically designed to control, coordinate, and optimize the movements, processes, and operations that take place in a logistics facility.
With the implementation of a WMS, all warehouse operations are carried out more quickly, easily, and accurately. This type of program can be installed in manual (non-automated), semi-automated, and fully automated facilities.
It can be implemented in the SaaS (software as a service) mode, that is, in the cloud. Among the many advantages of SaaS WMS solutions is the accessibility to all their tools from any internet-connected device and their ability to manage multiple facilities in different locations.
Functions of a warehouse management program
Broadly speaking, these are the main functions performed by warehouse management programs:
- Organization of warehouse entries. This functionality includes goods receipts, logistics data capture (including the load batch, expiration date, weight, temperature, serial number, etc.), and container and product labeling.
- Unit load location management. To optimize the flow of goods movements, the software supervises product slotting by means of predefined rules and strategies (e.g., the ABC analysis for inventory classification), cross-docking, and replenishment and consolidation management.
- Stock control. Warehouse management programs must be able to provide complete and useful information on inventory. To this end, they incorporate various functions, such as the warehouse map display, calculation of product turnover ratios, and management of locations, stock status, and inventory.
- Dispatch management. This function includes management of load preparation, picking processes, shipment labeling and documentation, loading of the transportation vehicle, and, lastly, notification to the ERP of the dispatch closure.
In addition to these main functionalities, WMS programs are capable of performing more complex functions, including order picking, the resupply of goods to the production lines, and multi-location inventory management.
Integration of the WMS and differences from ERP
Warehouse management programs have a permanent two-way connection with the other software applications run in the facility. One such app is ERP (enterprise resource planning), an integrated business management system. The most popular ERP systems on the market are those of Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Sage, among others.
Although they work in sync, the WMS program and ERP system don’t use the same platform, nor are they designed to fulfill the same function. The ERP system creates and maintains the master databases (releasing new products, adding suppliers, sending purchase orders to the facility, and generating invoices). The WMS, meanwhile, sends inventory data to the ERP system and updates them, for example, when the facility receives goods or dispatches orders.
As WMSs specialize in warehouse management, they provide much stricter inventory control than an ERP system. These advanced programs, for instance, use algorithms to organize the number of available locations based on efficiency and optimization criteria (slotting), offering total product traceability.
How to choose the best warehouse management program
What factors should you consider when deciding on the best WMS program for your logistics needs?
- Benefits for manual operations. It’s essential to define the impact the WMS will have on the people involved in the day-to-day operation of the facility. In other words, outline how it will optimize the work of the operators, supervisors, and logistics managers.
- Integration with other software. Besides integration with the ERP system, the program you select must be capable of being connected to the warehouse control system (WCS), automated picking systems (pick-to-light and voice picking), RF systems, e-commerce sales platforms, and printing equipment, to name a few.
- Adaptability to the operations and characteristics of the industry. A WMS should be flexible and scalable to adjust to the processes carried out in the facility. Likewise, it should have the potential to be personalized in line with the specific requirements of each sector.
- Support service. Having a high-quality customer support service available 24/7 is a determining factor when choosing a warehouse management program.
- Cost and ROI. It’s important to assess the initial investment and calculate the advantages offered by the WMS, as well as the percentage of return you’ll obtain.
The most powerful warehouse management programs can be tailored to deal with complex logistics scenarios, such as those requiring simultaneous control of several facilities.
Easy WMS: warehouse management program
Lack of productivity, increased operating costs, and misaligned inventory are some of the most common issues that pop up along the supply chain.
In an environment in which businesses are increasingly investing in innovation and the latest technology (from big data to the IIoT), a warehouse management program such as Easy WMS from Mecalux lets you get the most out of your supply chain.
Easy WMS stands out, among other things, for providing:
- Real-time stock control
- Lower logistics costs
- Increased storage capacity
- Reduction of handling tasks
- Error elimination
- High-precision, high-speed picking
- Adaptation to new e-commerce needs
- Omnichannel operation management
- Fast return on investment
Easy WMS also features different modules and functionalities that make it a WMS highly equipped to meet the logistics demands of any company, regardless of sector.
WMS for maximum logistics throughput
Warehouse management programs are tasked with digitally managing all processes and operations taking place in a facility (including management of stock, of inflows and outflows, and of unit load slotting). If you want your supply chain to be efficient as well as optimized, implementing a WMS is a must.
If you don’t have one yet, or if the WMS installed in your warehouse just isn’t cutting it, get in touch. We’ll tell you how to obtain a WMS adapted to your needs and that will enable you to make the most of your logistics operations.