Reasons you need to integrate your WMS and TMS
For the most part, warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS) remain separate. One is meant to control and facilitate the oversight of your internal and lateral storage facilities. The other is meant to handle your fleet and all elements connected to it.
But like your operations, in general, there’s something to be said for promoting interoperability between these two platforms. After doing so, you'll gain access to new, more adaptable workflows as well as fresh management opportunities. Not to mention, there are certain cost reductions as well as operations and process improvements which benefit not only your business, but also your customers.
Ultimately, you gain a little more control over your entire network, which makes for incredibly smooth and efficient operations — meaning customers get their products or services faster.
Rightfully so, it’s time to consider linking or synchronizing these two platforms to generate a more efficient supply chain, at least on your end. Certainly, any manufacturers looking to increase operational efficiency will start by connecting these two technologies.
What does WMS TMS integration achieve?
Generally, when technologies communicate with one another, the resulting data can be used as value-added and actionable intelligence. It’s akin to sifting through raw digital content and extracting helpful insights. You learn more, you can see more, meaning you can plan accordingly — which is exactly where predictive analytics come from.
The same is true for integrating WMS and TMS systems. The effective data sharing between the two platforms allows for clear and defined information about manufacturing, warehouse processes and, of course, transportation or distribution. You can better plan the movement of goods across your supply chain, not just within the confines of your warehouse.
It sounds great, right? But how do you do it? How do you merge the two platforms in a seamless and convenient way while ensuring that they're working correctly with one another?
Just like there are service providers for either platform, there are also service providers that offer solutions and tools to help merge the two technologies.
External solutions are often called 3PLs or third-party logistics providers. These, too, along with proprietary internal systems, can be configured to share and communicate freely.
Customers will benefit the most
WMS TMS integration means faster and tighter delivery windows as well as reduced transportation costs. Not to mention, you can react faster and more accurately to certain events when you have your entire supply system aligned. It’s this additional measure of oversight that affords nuanced information, allowing for more informed and successful decisions.
For example, with the systems separate, you might be able to discern that a certain number of orders are going out on a particular transport or truck. You can pick what goes out and what stays behind. But you don’t actually know how they’re going to be staged, how much space is available or whether or not the truck is ready.
When the systems are combined, however, you can see exactly how each truck is packed and set up. This knowledge allows you to more accurately stage outbound goods and plan accordingly within your warehouse, saving space by proxy. You can even make more dynamic adjustments to increase the number of goods moved by your fleet because you can see just how much room is left for each trailer or truck. Think, last minute send-offs for certain products and goods, satisfying your customers who are looking to receive their orders as quickly as possible.
Advantages of WMS TMS integration
It’s likely that you’re taking every measure to maximize the warehouse space you have available, most commonly through pallet-racking systems or similar configurations. Make sure you are keeping your warehouse’s costs per square foot low. Your finance department can help you determine if your warehouse inventory is impacting your bottom line. Maximize storage with vertical storage solutions and warehouse management systems for healthier and more reliable inventory stores. Integrating WMS with your outbound solutions — such as your fleet — can have an even greater impact on the success of your supply chain operations.
Some other benefits of having WMS and TMS aligned are:
- More constraint-oriented and aware planning to adjust for customer expectations
- Iterative optimization and improvements across all processes
- Better labor scheduling and employee oversight
- More efficient warehouse organization leading to more informed movements
- Better use of your fleet and all resources they require, including fuel and driver wages
In the end, merging your WMS and TMS systems seems to be the best option for almost any manufacturer that utilizes these tools.