Warehouse Management Systems: 5 Steps to Modernize Your Warehouse
Warehouse management is one of the most important facets of supply and chain management. It encompasses all the processes involved in running a warehouse, including storage, inventory management, shipping and distribution. In this post, Brosnan Property Solutions (facility management company) and Global Trade Magazine will discuss more regarding warehouse management systems and how you can use the technology to modernise your warehouse.
Managing a warehouse is relatively straightforward in a small-scale distribution setting. If the business is small, distributors can get away with a simple approach to running day-to-day warehouse operations. But as the distribution business expands, warehouse management becomes more complex.
An increase in product lines leads to a larger facility and more locations to be monitored. With all these changes and increasing demand in your warehouse, brick-and-mortar management practices might soon prove inefficient in meeting the needs of your consumers. That’s why you need to invest in a warehouse management system (WMS).
What is a Warehouse Management System?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a sophisticated software platform that gives you an all-in-one way to handle all your warehouse operations. Its primary purpose is to ensure your warehouse operates most efficiently and cost-effectively by simplifying various functions, such as inventory tracking and storage.
Implementing a warehouse management system offers a wide range of benefits for your distribution business. For instance, it helps reduce human errors and promotes better customer service. So, if you feel the competition is always a step ahead of you, it might be time to invest and reap the benefits of a warehouse management system.
How to Modernise Your Warehouse Using a Warehouse Management System
Here are a few steps to modernise your warehouse and enhance operations using reliable warehouse management systems.
Evaluate Your Current Warehouse Management Systems
Before you take any step, it is essential to evaluate where your warehouse is in the modernisation journey. You need to assess current warehouse management systems and identify your strengths and areas that need improvements. It is important to note that warehouses (with varying capacities) have different feature requirements.
If you run a small distribution company, you may need a few tools/features to automate fully. However, larger and established warehouses might need an all-in-one supply chain suite. Conducting an assessment helps you establish the current state of your warehouse and identify your feature requirements before you embark on your modernisation journey.
Automate Data Collection and Inventory Management
Inventory management and data collection are the most basic warehouse management operations. Distributors need to document every item throughout the warehousing process. As we all know, manual data entry can be time-consuming and error-prone. That’s why it is essential to invest in various technologies to improve its overall efficiency.
Some of the technologies you can use to automate data entry include barcodes, RFID tags and paper & OCR scanners. These data-capturing technologies can help minimise human intervention in data collection, reducing errors and boosting productivity.
Besides automating data entry, your warehouse can benefit from additional technologies such as voice recognition software, AI & ML and robotic systems. A reliable warehouse management system can help incorporate these technologies to enhance the distribution process.
Spruce Up Your Warehouse Layout
Besides modern automation technologies, your warehouse layout plays an important role in the success of its operation. The primary purpose of organising your warehouse is to properly utilise available space, increase efficiency and facilitate the smooth running of operations. It helps improve order fulfilment rates by minimising travel time and providing easy access to stored goods.
With a reliable warehouse management system, you can quickly generate an optimised warehouse layout design that arranges processes in a logical sequence, streamlining operations. Using the data collected by these systems, you can identify the most effective picking routes and determine what items should be placed close to the parking area.
You can also devise proper spacing between storage lots to enhance manoeuvrability for both machines and employees. Or, rearrange goods to ensure popular items are easily accessible while less popular ones take storage lots further down the aisle.
Data Synchronisation in All Systems
A modernised warehouse should have synchronised data across all systems. But what exactly is data synchronisation?
Data synchronisation is the effort to establish consistency between source and target data stores. It ensures that all changes made to data in one device are reflected in the entire system.
Every modern warehouse has various systems, such as inventory tracking and shipping systems. If these systems operate separately, it can result in data conflicts, leading to poor data quality and a lack of trusted data down the line. That’s why it is essential to invest in a flexible warehouse management system that allows integration with other systems.
Synchronised systems enhance warehouse operations by ensuring information is up-to-date at every stage of the warehousing process.
Go Mobile With Your Warehouse Management System
With the advancement in technology, it is now possible to migrate your warehouse management system to a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone. Accessing your WMS through a mobile device makes scanning, tracking and planning your warehouse operations easier. It also allows you to monitor employee performance, even if you aren’t at the warehouse.
In a Nutshell
Warehouse management is an ever-changing enterprise of supply chain management. With the regular introduction of new technologies and trends, it is essential to adapt to keep up with the competition. Implementing these 5 steps is one of the easiest ways to modernise your warehouse and tune the standards of your operations to the future of warehousing and distribution.