Four decisions manufacturers need to make when selecting a WMS
Resources, budgets, and timelines rule the world of manufacturing. Securing a warehouse management platform that bolsters your ability to use resources on budget and on time means a platform that helps your business grow.
Keeping those three pillars in mind, we’ve looked at four of the more desirable features that a manufacturer like you would most enjoy in a new WMS.
1. Which processes should I automate?
A strong manufacturing WMS can help you automate a wide range of processes by collecting and managing the information your warehouse needs.
Look for a WMS that can perform tracking operations such as assigning grid numbers to locations as well as bins and storage locations, with scanners that tell your team where to store goods, record that storage location, and provide it to your picking system when needed.
The more data that your WMS can collect, connect, and distribute, the greater level of automation it can support. Even if your system is not fully automated today, having the data stream available will make it that much easier to automate new processes as you invest more in equipment.
2. Should I go for cloud or on-premise software?
An on-premise platform is installed on your machinery at your location and runs like a closed system. You’ll have to process updates yourself and do the heavy-lifting for any partner integrations, but it can save you in price initially.
Cloud, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), platforms are delivered via the Internet and your WMS provider takes care of most integrations and updates. You’re mostly hands off with its development and have greater backup and recovery options, but typically at an increased price.
It can be a promising idea to look for a WMS that offers both cloud and on-premise deployments for their platform because you can change your deployment as you grow, without having to learn new software.
Vendors who offer both can also help you judge what would be best for your platform. This gives you a way to compare recommendations and get an idea of how helpful each potential partner could be.
3. Which equipment should it work with?
One of the most notable features to make the most out of a WMS investment is a platform that can interact with the equipment you use. This is especially true for automated material handling equipment.
You’ve got a wide range of sorting equipment, conveyor belts, automatic storage systems, and retrieval machinery in your shop already. Optimize that existing infrastructure and investment with a WMS that is smart enough to enable complex yard management, wave picking, and more.
The closer you can integrate your equipment with your WMS, the faster you can pick and get orders out to waiting customers.
4. Which other systems should I integrate my WMS with?
It’s time to think beyond your machinery.
The other platforms you use to manage your warehouse, manufacturing output, customers, enterprise resources, and more all produce and require a significant amount of information. When your WMS can use this data, or share its own data with other platforms, it will reduce the need to duplicate work.
Automated data flows also reduce the likelihood that human error will enter into your operations.
For the WMS, look for integrations with your ERP and order management tools so that you can create a complete audit trail for each order. Knowing where each item from a production run can help you verify that goods were not tampered with or, in a worst-case scenario, make it significantly easier for you to recall defective products.
A good WMS puts an emphasis on tracking data, and a better one for you will make it easier for that data to be actionable throughout your operations.
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