How well does your warehouse run?
I often think that a warehouse is the plumbing of a business. It is there, running materials though the system, and very little thought is put into it. At least until the day something goes wrong. Some warehouses go for years running smoothly, the you never needing to know how it works, or where it all goes. Some have occasional backups that a little push through the system can solve. Some warehouses will one day just get to the breaking point. When this happens, putting the pieces back together can be messy.
- Do I want to wait until they have a huge, messy problem?
- Or, does it make sense to do some planning and put a system in place that assures the system never causes that messy, difficult to solve or expensive problem?
SWK Technologies often gets calls for systems that “do barcodes”. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are more than just barcodes…
At the heart of every warehouse system there is the need for data collection. UPC, 3of9, CODE128 are all types of barcodes, and if you have been shipping to any big box retailer, you are very aware of these terms. Data collection is simply the ability to scan one of these barcodes rather than type it in. The gain is obvious: accuracy. For only a few hundred dollars you could attach a scanner to your desktop computer, and bingo, you have data collection. Now this is not exactly a mobile solution very suited to moving around in a warehouse, but it is data collection.
Adding Radio Frequency (RF) Handheld computers, ruggedized to withstand the warehouse environment is the answer. These devices use the same Wi-Fi wireless internet you find in your home or local Starbucks. Once the warehouse is equipped with these devices, data collection becomes mobile. Now you can receive product at the dock door, improving accuracy by scanning the products. You can do a physical inventory without having to write anything down. Picking, especially pick and pack orders, become easy as product is scanned into a box the moment it is pulled from the racks.
Beyond data collection many WMS systems can extend the functionality you have with your ERP system:
- Inventory can be hard allocated to orders.
- Accountability is generated by keeping logs of every movement of product to the user who performed it.
- Replenishment can be automated so bins are never out of stock.
- Customers with routing guides can be set up to automatically choose the correct routing based on shipment weights.
- Companies that are now having to deal with new FDA regulations having to do with lot control can easily have a system that automatically keeps track of lots and expiry dates.
- And best of all, the host ERP system does not need to have the same valuation of product. Your ERP can maintain FIFO or Average Cost while the WMS controls the lots.
- Tight on space? Directed put-away will help find the best way to put your product away.
Don’t wait until you have a messy problem, talk to us now about solutions that can run your warehouse as efficiently as your ERP runs your back office.
Contact our WMS Team
Want to learn more about warehouse management systems? For additional information please contact us at 877-979-5462, or click here.
Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net