A warehouse management system (WMS) is a collection of software tools and processes that enable businesses to govern and manage warehouse operations from the time items or materials enter the warehouse until they are moved.

What exactly does a WMS do?

Warehouses are at the heart of manufacturing and supply chain operations because they house everything utilised or generated in those processes, from raw materials to completed goods. A warehouse management system (WMS) is designed to help ensure that goods and commodities are moved through warehouses in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. A warehouse management system (WMS) manages numerous functions that facilitate these movements, such as inventory tracking, picking, receiving, and warehousing.

WMS’s Role in the Supply Chain

The supply chain can only operate at the speed, accuracy, and efficiency that warehousing techniques enable. A warehouse management system (WMS) is indispensable into supply chain management since it manages order fulfilment procedures, from receiving raw materials to exporting finished goods.

For example, if raw materials are not received correctly or if parts are misplaced in a warehouse, the supply chain may be slowed or disrupted. WMS are crucial to ensuring that these operations work effectively by tracking inventory and ensuring that products are appropriately kept, categorised, dispatched, and monitored.

Warehouse management system types

Warehouse management software is available in a range of kinds and implementation methods, with the type being determined by the size and nature of the firm. They might be standalone systems or components of a broader ERP or supply chain execution suite.

The complexity of WMS can also vary greatly. Some small firms can get by with a simple sequence of printed documents or spreadsheet files, but most larger businesses, from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to major corporations, rely on complex WMS software. Some WMS setups are tailored to the size of the company, and several vendors offer WMS products that can scale to different organisation sizes. Some businesses develop their own WMS from the ground up, but it is more common to deploy a WMS from a well-known provider.

Warehouse management system characteristics

Many features are shared among WMS software products, and they often include the following:

Warehouse layout, which allows businesses to adjust workflow and picking logic to guarantee the warehouse is optimised for inventory allocation. The WMS creates container slots to maximise storage capacity and adjust for seasonal inventory changes.

Inventory tracking enables the use of modern tracking and automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies, such as barcode and RFID readers, to ensure that commodities can be quickly located when they need to be moved.

Receiving and warehousing, which allows for the storage and retrieval of inventory, frequently using pick-to-light or pick-to-voice technology to assist warehouse personnel in locating goods.

Merchandise picking and packing, includes picking by zone, picking by wave, and picking by batches. Warehouse employees can also use the job collation and batch zoning tools to guide pick and pack tasks in the most effective way possible.

Shipping, which allows the WMS to transmit bills of lading (B / L) before to shipment, generate packing lists and invoices for shipment, and send recipients early shipment alerts.

Labor management, which assists warehouse managers in monitoring worker performance through the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) that indicate whether workers are performing above or below norms.