How can WMS help meet your distribution requirements?

The warehouse is the last place we can have a mistake these days. Every slip, trip, fall, slow package, miscounted inventory, and more costs us time and money. So, we’re continually looking for new ways to manage and reorganize our inventory and warehouses to keep people safe while cutting costs.

This pressure can build up significantly over time and boil over if you’re expecting only human capital to solve your needs. It’s time to look at your warehouse management system to start helping. Here are five of the top concerns that a smart distribution WMS can help you address.

Orders are changing

The warehouse and its average order look very different today, and that chance can be tough to manage if it’s unexpected. Historically, many warehouses required full pallet orders for them to accept goods. Today, however, just 9% of DCs and warehouses only take these order types, while nearly half say they regularly handle a mix of pallets, cases, split cases, and even individual pieces.

A robust warehouse management system software package can help you track each of these elements and keep track of inventory, even when your supplier gives you an order mix. If you’re struggling to adapt to new orders, consider a distribution WMS designed to track inventory and also make it easy to assign the right staff to address the different order loads you face.

Expanding with more DCs

Along with changing orders are growing orders, at least for ecommerce companies. This expansion typically comes with a move into multiple distribution centers handling multiple distribution channels. Managing even one warehouse is difficult in a pen-and-paper setup. It becomes nearly impossible to optimize various locations this way, especially when you consider the time savings that a WMS gives you on inventory and cycle counts alone.

Managing warehouse space

The faster you can complete an order, the more likely it is to get out on time. Scale this up for all your orders and speed (we’ll address accuracy in a moment) equates to revenue. If you’re too slow, you’re paying for it in many ways.

Speed-related distribution WMS requirements can include features that will track your goods usage and suggest ways to reorder your picking lanes or the bin locations of products. A distribution WMS will also monitor the packing materials, boxes, and other items you need to finish an order. You’d be surprised how reorganizing or grouping your final workstations can change the flow of orders through your warehouse.

Keeping orders accurate

For orders to be correct you first need an accurate count of your inventory. Automated systems in your WMS can provide real-time data about stock levels. This way, you know that you’ve got the right materials to fill orders, are resupplying before you run out, and are keeping your pickers happy.

If a picker has inaccurate information, they’re going to waste time searching for materials that aren’t there or are misplaced. This kills time, slows orders, and frustrates everyone.

Reducing damage to goods

Every time a product is damaged, your costs rise substantially. Not only do you need to replace the broken item, but you could have to replace other products nearby, pallets, bins, and more. Plus, you might not be able to fill an order, which causes delays and upsets customers.

A distribution WMS that optimizes bin location and picking lanes can help you reduce the number of trips someone needs to take and also employ batch, wave, and other picking options designed to keep workers safe. The latest distribution WMS options also support robotics and automation, which can do some of the heavy or dangerous lifting for your crew.

We’re wrapping up with damaged goods because it’s something every warehouse lead dreads, but few of us think about our WMS being a tool to address. There’s plenty of safety and security we can implement thanks to a distribution WMS designed to minimize workforce efforts.

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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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