Monday, March 17, 2014

Warehouse Management System Best Practices

To ensure the accuracy of information processed at an organization Warehouse Management Solutions (WMS) need to include both hardware and software.  Newer systems are used to manage product services, such as shipping, receiving, inventory management, product or service layout, staff, bins, and purchasing.


Having the right solution in place is an integral component to organizing and managing the supply chain and is crucial to the success of overall business.  Having the appropriate software simplifies inventory processing through automation, thus ensuring tight control and lot tracking at all levels of warehouse management that meets industry-specific regulations and institutional requirements.


Common mistakes can make it challenging to maintain a successful warehouse operation even when WMS tools are being used.  Common problems include failure to put in place an efficient warehouse layout best suited to the products being handled, lack of knowledge of the inventory on hand, and inadequate preparation and training of personnel.


Having a logical warehouse layout is paramount to the success of any warehouse solution.  Location and paths should be organized to facilitate efficient routes.  The most popular and fastest moving items should be easily located and accessed.  The location of all products should be clearly defined and not scattered throughout the facility.  Trouble in finding products can cause delays and errors in product shipment.


Creating a logical naming and sequencing plan along with barcodes for efficient mechanical reading is a foundational steps in organizing a warehouse.  Special attention needs to be taken in the planning phase to ensure products are located where they can be picked efficiently.  It does not mean you have to rearrange your entire warehouse, but small incremental changes add to a cumulative benefit.


Accurate perpetual inventory and knowledgeable staff will help in this planning stage.  For example, by placing higher moving products near picking lanes that are close to shipping areas and placing bulk areas in a location to facilitate bin replenishment.   


A good WMS will show how well a system is performing and product movement.


WMS challenges increase when there are date sensitive products such as found in food or pharma industries.  Compliance regulations make it critical to keep accurate records of date tracking, handling and product movement.  No customer wants to receive an outdated or expired product.


Staff ultimately plays one of the most important roles in increasing operational efficiency.  Providing training is critical, but so is listening to the people that actually walk or ride the floors.  Their input is invaluable in indentifying any unique requirements.  Enlisting the help of a trusted advisor will help to identify your organizations strengths and weaknesses. 


Organizing and managing inventory begins with a detailed look at what you are doing and why you are doing and how you utilize your available resources.  A good match between your organization and a warehouse management system is more than picking up a software box at your local office supply store. 


The WMS system should integrate well with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  Seamless passing of information between systems is a critical component and this integration.  Consider also the other components of your operations such as bar code scanners, radio frequency equipment, data collection equipment and where or what this equipment connects to or monitors.


There are a lot of components to connect and integrate in any operation.  The key is building a solid foundation to build upon.  A flexible ERP system with expansion modules that include WMS and other key components that match your departmental and functional roles is a great place to start.  But what happens if you already have a system in place and the complexity of adding more components is too great? 


This is where finding and selecting a trusted advisor will help.  A fresh set of eyes to look at your operations in a way no insider can see is helpful.  Accepting new points of view is the hard part. 


At Dolvin Consulting we work with industry experts to give you new perspectives on business-as-usual.  Contact us today to see how we can help. 


What ways do you evaluate trusted advisors and new solutions?  Please share your experiences with our readers.


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  2. Nice post with awesome points! Can’t wait for the next one.

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