The Importance of Warehouse Management
Warehouse Management Systems are gaining importance similar to that of other software solutions. A typical warehouse management system would include controlling the movement of materials and the storage of the materials. Though these functionalities are very basic the warehouse management system is expanding its functionalities to include light manufacturing, transportation management, order management, and integrated with the accounting systems. Now warehouse management systems are transforming into warehouse focused ERP system.
It is found that there are overlaps in the functionality of the warehouse management and the enterprise resource planning, distribution requirements planning, transportation management systems, supply chain planning and scheduling. If all these are to have separate software the company that is using the software will get confused with the software solution provided separately. Hence there is a need for an integrated system that will have warehouse management and other related operations of the company.
There are many software vendors who provide warehouse management software. Although there are many vendors the basic functionality of the warehouse management system is not changed. The primary purpose is to control the movement and storage of the materials.
A good warehouse management system would have a flexible location system, get user defined parameters to direct warehouse tasks and uses live documents for execution of the tasks. Some form of integration with other devices is possible so that the warehouse management system gets live data from other devices connected to it.
Not every warehouse will need a warehouse management system. If the operation of the warehouse is continuous and very frequent with a lot of transactions per day then a warehouse management system would justify the cost involved in setting it up.
A lot of initial setup is to be done to keep the data warehouse management systems to run and to keep the current operation on the run. There must be a smooth transition from the current system to the warehouse management system. Often a separate department is setup to monitor the operations of the warehouse and to use the information system related to that of the warehouse management system.
Automated data collection in the warehouse management system would reduce the cost in the labor and increases the accuracy of the data. It increases the effectiveness of the service provided to the customer by reducing the cycle time. Inventory reduction and increased storage capacity are less likely. The level of safety stock can be reduced while increasing the efficiency of the system. Customer services like first-in-first-out, cross docking, order tracking and automated material handling are some of the area that finds an increase in the efficiency.
The setting up of a warehouse management system is an extensive task. Similar items and locations are categorized. More details of the items are maintained such as exact dimensions, weight, rack in which it is stored, hazard classifications, whether it is a finished goods or a raw material, whether it is a fast mover or a slow mover etc. these data about an item have to be stored in a database.
The given parameters are only tentative and it will vary from industry to industry. For example if you are distributor of washing machines, you may be required to have details like top loading or front loading, the weight of the dry clothes that it can take, the make of the machine, the features provided for a particular model, the weight of the machine, etc. it is not that you will be storing only a particular type of product in the warehouse.
Different types of product mix are possible in a warehouse and accordingly the warehouse management system has to be configured. Since warehouse management system is all about directed movement, the location from which the product has to be picked up and where to be delivered are also to be keyed in to the system. Hence warehouse management systems are gaining importance in logistics now-a-days.