What is a Warehouse Management System?

Warehouse Management Systems

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) consists of hardware and software dedicated to efficiently operating a distribution center. Although host systems may be efficient for purchasing, inventory planning and order entry, they do not contain the tools required to efficiently and accurately manage distribution center operations.

The WMS includes automatic identification technology that allows for scanned confirmation of all activities within the four walls of a distribution center. All transactions occur in real time so that the status and physical location of any item or order can be tracked at any time. This system directs picking and put-away tasks to minimize travel. Scan confirmation eliminates over 99% of errors typically seen with paper-based systems. Additionally, random storage logic of the WMS allows for the storage of more products within the DC.

The advantages of using a Warehouse Management System are significant. About 50% of labor hours in distribution centers are typically spent travelling between transactions. By planning the work to pick at least ten (and as many as forty) orders at the same time, this travel time is greatly reduced. Another 30% of labor hours are typically spent completing paperwork and data entry. With the scan confirmation of all tasks within the WMS, this paperwork component is also greatly reduced. The final 20% of time is spent physically handling materials. This can now take up the largest amount of your time, rather than the smallest.

The increased accuracy of a WMS can also benefit your customers, virtually eliminating errors and significant costs associated with not delivering the right products at the right time. Faster processing speeds result in later order cutoffs, allowing more product to be shipped the same day to customers. A higher percentage of product can then be shipped to customers the same day it is received. Additionally, real time tracking features simplify the process, in the event that an order has to be cancelled or upgraded from ground to air shipping services.

Warehouse Management Systems at Kaman

Kaman distribution centers have been utilizing a Warehouse Management System for almost 20 years. In this time, we have eliminated the need to do physical inventory and have decreased the downtime associated with physical inventory based on the extremely high inventory accuracy achieved through cycle counting. The inventory that the host system displays is therefore accurate, and we can ship all orders received in the system by 5:00pm on the same day.

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Rick Diamond
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One Reply to “What is a Warehouse Management System?”

  1. Laurie says:

    I definitely think that warehouse management systems are essential to run things more efficiently. Great information and listing of benefits, thanks for sharing!

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