Warehouses are critical to businesses of all kinds. Close your eyes and imagine Home Depot, Costco and Ikea. These are brands that survive and succeed in a warehouse, literally. You may be surprised at how efficient they manage their products – how are they able to locate a certain product “among the ocean” and update the inventory information in no time. This article will outline what warehouse routines are and the role of WMS in the process of managing warehouse businesses.
According to Robert Hughes, “warehousing is a set of activities that involves receiving and storing goods and preparing them for reshipments.” This definition perfectly highlights what warehousing operations involve. Basically, there are three major activities if you are to run a warehouse: Inbound activities, Process activities, Outbound activities. Before we dive into WMS, we need to understand the working scenario in a warehouse.
Key Elements in Warehouse Operation
Receiving inventory works around unloading and checking the shipments; unpacking; check item name, quantities, condition to make sure everything matches. After all these steps, an inventory report is needed when everything has been catered.
After confirming inventory, the next step is to dispatch and store. Scan the barcode and move items to the given location according to product code （SKU number); size; weight; cost; and color, etc.
Order picking is what it sounds like: the process of retrieving products from the warehouse inventory to fulfill customer orders. It’s a labor-intensive activity that requires both speed and accuracy. The amount of time it takes to get an order together greatly influences delivery time, which is why your productivity levels are essential. Zone picking means to pull items from the inventory to fill a customer order by zone picking (specific zone); Batch picking means that groups of orders are picked at the same time to minimize repeat visits to the same product bin location. An order management system (OMS) will arrange a group of orders in the most efficient picking sequence; Wave picking is used to support management and workers via WMS, to support the planning and organizing of the daily flow of work of a warehouse or distribution center. It is a form of short-interval-scheduling. Managers may assign groups of orders into short intervals called “waves”, to fulfill the goal that all the work assigned to each wave will be completed at almost the same time.
Replenishment is the movement of inventory from upstream to downstream; keep inventory flowing through the supply chain by maintaining efficient order and prevent costly inventory stocking. The warehouse replenishment process pushes managers to walk a very thin line between understocking and overstocking. Failure to replenish inventory properly can stem from not having the right tools, unpredictable markets, and a lack of performance measurements in place.
To arrange the oldest units in inventory so they are sold before the newer units. The reason to rotate stock is to reduce the losses from deterioration and obsolescence. For example, a grocery store will restock its shelves by putting the oldest units in the front part of the shelves. The newest units will be placed in the back of the shelves. The hope is that the customer will select the most convenient (older) units from the front of the shelf.
Once picking operations are performed as efficiently as possible, and any necessary production is performed, the next step in fulfillment is packing the order.
Based on order classes, customers, in-hands dates, and other criteria, WMS software helps make sure packing is performed in the correct order, and as efficiently as possible, according to the rules set by the business. Minimizing damage that can occur after an item has left the production line is also the purpose.
Since shipping is the last warehouse process, it is important to keep in mind that all processes before it have a direct impact on its efficiency and effectiveness. Let’s run through the processes that precede and those which comprise it. Shipping is considered successful only if the right order is sorted and loaded, dispatched to the right customer through the right transit mode, and delivered on time.
WMS (warehouse management system) – a piece of software that controls, records
and automates various warehouse operations. Increase the overall productivity and efficiency of business’ warehousing operations. A warehouse’s largest operating expense is labor costs, according to the International Logistics and Manufacturing magazine. It can actually consume 70% of the average company’s warehousing budget.
In the early phase, WMS systems could only provide simple functions, mostly just storage location information. Now it has evolved to encompass a variety of tasks, from basic best practices in inbound and outbound picking packing and shipping functionality to sophisticated programs such as coordinating advanced interactions with material-handling devices and yard management. A warehouse management system can reduce the likelihood of errors that could occur when a product is shipped. The system can also help a company fulfill orders more rapidly and instantaneously trace ordered products within the warehouse.
Overall, the goal of warehouse management system software is to achieve a paperless environment that directs your employees automatically on the optimal picking, put-away, and shipping of your products.
WMS comes in a variety of types and implementation methods, and the type typically depends on the size and nature of the organization. They can be stand-alone systems or modules in a larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or supply chain execution suite.
They can also vary widely in complexity. Some small organizations may use a simple series of hard copy documents or spreadsheet files, but bigger organizations use multifunctional WMS software. Some WMS setups are designed specifically for the size of the organization, and many vendors have versions of WMS products that can scale to different organizational sizes. Some organizations build their own WMS from scratch, but it’s more common to implement a WMS from an established vendor.
Implementing a WMS has many added benefits for your business, from reduced operational expenses to efficient labour allocation, better staff morale, improved inventory visibility and accuracy and improved customer service.
Implement your customized WMS at no cost
As a one-stop, web-based software product, ShipOut offers a wide range of features that help warehouse operations to manage orders, shipments, and inventories with ultimate efficiency and effectiveness. The company uses the online platform (Saas WMS) to integrate offline physical resources and provides various logistics services; from international shipping, truck delivery to warehouse management services, terminal delivery. Through in-depth field research and interviews with small and medium-sized warehouse owners, 3PL warehouse providers, and e-Commerce sellers, ShipOut is able to fully understand what users would expect from us. For example, order batch processing; selling channels integration; mobile-adapted scan app；smart billing system, interface with customizable modules, beginner-friendly user experience, 24-7 customer service, etc.