• Jim Southern

7 Signs You Need WMS

Introducing new methods and systems into a warehouse operation can seem like a daunting task for many businesses. There can be resistance to change, that's human nature, and there is always the old adage "We've always done it this way" which can mean spreadsheets for everything or even pen and paper and keying in with all the resulting time consuming work and the inevitable errors associated with these methods. However, sticking to the same old ways of doing things will probably be costing your business in efficiency and therefore profits. You may also be nervous about the costs involved in implementing a warehouse management system but there are various good reasons and signs that a WMS solution is needed to keep your business moving forward.

1. There is no room in the warehouse

This generally means that you are carrying too much stock or that it’s poorly organised. You may need to re-evaluate your storage strategy, consider changing your picking strategies and consolidating and relocating pickfaces. This exercise will free up space in the warehouse for those high demand, fast moving items.

If your business is growing and your current warehouse processes can't keep up then perhaps now is the time to look at a warehouse management system. Efficient storage layouts coupled with efficient WMS receiving and putaway strategies will improve all the downstream processes through to order pick & pack.

2. Goods receiving is slow

Incoming goods and receiving processes need to be flexible and efficient in a modern warehouse. If the warehouse workers can't keep up, goods get left in the receiving bay, taking up space and of course they are not available for sale until you've recorded them and located them in the warehouse. The stock could also be moved or picked before you've had chance to record them at all resulting in incomplete transactions and perceived lost stock. A WMS system can automate these tasks by recording and checking receipts against the PO and Container records and applying intelligent "putaway" rules to make sure stock is located in the right place ready for picking later on.

3. Manual inventory tasks take too long

In todays "need it now" culture, there is no room for slow manual warehouse processes. The paperwork and rekeying involved in performing the day to day recording of stock movements takes time away from the important job of getting customer orders out of the door. Using a WMS system, workers can do more work in less time, and can therefore concentrate on important the tasks. Here's how:

• Workers do not have to constantly refer to paperwork and have to manually record their tasks. This eliminates errors and enhances pick, pack and ship activity.

• Order picking accuracy is improved with barcode scanning and direction to specific locations, eliminating errors from paper pick-lists and manual paperwork.

• It eliminates shipping errors, as well as the extra time and costs associated with customer returns.

• You can pick faster because a WMS system significantly increasing visibility and accuracy by slotting products based on defined rules.

• A WMS system speeds up receiving and putaway tasks that could lead to congestion and picking location obstruction, making processes even slower.

4. Double handling goods within the warehouse

Do you have redundant processes in your warehouse? If the answer is yes, then you are not alone because this is a common issue for many businesses we work with. In many warehouses we see paperwork passing through many sets of hands before the order gets shipped. For example, the picker passes the items to a checker who then passes it to a packer who then passes it to a despatch clerk. With a modern WMS system this is reduced using barcode technology and integration methods, eliminating the number of "touches" for the fulfillment process.

A warehouse management system can also help you with prioritising order picking and replenishments to further streamline the whole warehouse operation.

5. Lack visibility for warehouse operations

Is your warehouse like a "black hole" when it comes to knowing what’s going on?

Do you only know whether orders have been shipped or not at the end of the day when it's too late?

If you are still using the same old fashioned methods like spreadsheets and paperwork, the answer is probably yes to these questions. And while these methods kind of work, they don't work well, they are slow, prone to errors and don't offer any visibility to the real time situation. You find out there's a problem when it's too late to react and do something about it. This is a problem you do not want to be faced with. A WMS system provides a "live view" of all warehouse operations from order status to shipping and empowers all your staff to ensure you operate at peak efficiency to deliver the best in customer service.

6. WMS will outperform your current ERP system

I already have an ERP system why should I consider WMS? Of course ERP systems offer a limited level of stock control with reports and allocations etc. but really their main function is to manage purchasing, sales and finances. If you are a business that is essentially centred around distribution you need a system that is specially designed to manage the warehouse space and it's unique requirements. For example:

• Accurate stock recording to account for inventory, locations and movements.

• Functionality that enables scaleable and flexible growth, meeting business and customer demands.

A WMS system is specifically designed for the world of the warehouse: receiving, locating, storing, managing and shipping items. A WMS system provides the robust functionality vital to the good health of your warehouse.

7. Does WMS for your business mean "Where's My Stock"

OK, it's a jokey line. However, if you add up some of the questions and issues that are listed above, it can be a recipe for disaster for a growing business. These typical issues can cause lost or misplaced stock and ultimately mis-picked orders or not shipped orders, and the subsequent costly errors that impact profitability, including customer returns and lost business.

Our Dexterity WMS system can deliver positive answers to all these questions, so there's no excuse for operating a disorganised, inefficient warehouse. In today's ever more competitive markets it's essential that your warehouse operation is as efficient as possible from sales to despatch. Take the decision towards a more streamlined and agile warehouse and you can stay ahead of your competition.

We've implemented many successful warehouse management systems across many industry sectors over the years - Give us a call to discuss your warehouse management project.


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