What functionality manufacturing companies need from WMS

Manufacturers should start looking at warehouse improvements before margins get too thin because there’s plenty of hidden savings to be had with optimization. Whether you’re using your workforce better, maximizing raw materials, cutting down order time, or just getting ready for the autonomous future, a manufacturing WMS is a swiss-army-knife for helping your warehouse run a little better. Below, we've listed six features manufacturers should look for in a WMS solution.

1. Production stages

A strong manufacturing WMS enables you to create multi-level work orders that you can track and always have a quick eye on where each job is at any given moment. Organize jobs by stages, compare production estimates to actual completion stages at different times, or manage your workforce within the connected system to keep your operations running smoothly in real time.

2. BOM management

Manufacturers have a long order process that starts with the bills of materials. Your WMS should help you look back through your entire supply chain from raw materials through finished products. Seek out tools that help you manage the BOM with options like setting a minimum amount of final product to be made, automated reorders, additive calculations and more. One note about this type of manufacturing WMS is that it might need ERP integration.

3. Responsive line configuration

Different WMS manufacturing tools will have different names for this functionality, but some can help manage the flow of materials through your lines and products to final staging areas. Many manufacturers will share supply buffers between lines or use the same staging areas for finished products. You’ll want your WMS to be able to account these multi-use elements to reduce the likelihood that you run out of materials, space, or that your team brings too little materials to the buffer.

4. Inventory visibility

Every warehouse benefits from having an accurate understanding of its inventory. Manufacturers often see a greater need in this area because they’re managing complex supply chains, often work with multiple locations, must track orders and shipments within their operations and with partners, have significant reorder needs, and more. The more visibility you have into your BOM through orders on their way to customers, the better you’ll be able to control costs and keep margins high.

For an added benefit, look for a specially designed WMS in manufacturing environments so that you can use its tools to adjust your line or set the reorder points for individual elements in your line.

5. Automation support

Many manufacturers are looking at incorporating a variety of robotics and automation in their warehouse processes. If you have plans for introducing any of these capabilities within the next five years, look for a WMS that can work in conjunction with these systems and help you plan for the human and maintenance elements involved in autonomous operations.

6. Just-in-time tools

The entire supply chain is emphasizing lean operations. For manufacturers, this has taken on the life of just-in-time production where you’ve got the right flow of materials in to match goods out the door. This is an intricate dance of materials, people, processes, and manufacturing processes. Picking up a proper manufacturing WMS can help you achieve just-in-time production by optimizing cross-docking, improving ASN receiving, and prioritizing your suppliers.

Finding your fit

Manufacturers have a wide range of software options to choose from to run their warehouse, but not all are going to meet your needs. The more advanced your lines and operations, the stronger your software needs to be. Find a good fit using our comparison tool here to start narrowing down your potential partner list.

 

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Geoff Whiting

About the author…

Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.

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Geoff Whiting

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