Executive Briefings

10 Signs It's Time to Automate Your Warehouse With WMS

Warehouses and distribution centers are dynamic environments where many different challenges arise. Sometimes those challenges go beyond the normal issues to become overwhelming, and start to impact the performance of the business. A Warehouse Management System (WMS) can help a business with many of these challenges, yet many smaller and medium-sized businesses hesitate to move from a manual paper-based approach to even a rudimentary WMS, based on fears about cost and disruption.

10 Signs It's Time to Automate Your Warehouse With WMS

At the same time, Amazon (and other competitors) are raising the bar on rapid, error-free fulfillment at low cost per unit. Consumers have come to expect that orders will consistently ship the same day, without mistakes or any wrong items. Top retailers are also very demanding, with serious deductions and chargebacks for mistakes. Any business, including a small business, that is slow or sloppy in their warehouse and fulfillment operations, risks losing customers to those that can execute well. So how does a business know when it's time to take the plunge to implement WMS? Here are 10 signs that it is time to consider making the move to a WMS for your warehouse or DC:

Error rates climbing or unacceptable. Too many errors such as wrong items or quantity shipped, incorrectly packed, damaged goods, incorrect paperwork and other customer claims. Human beings make mistakes. The more complex, chaotic, fast paced and unguided the environment and tasks become, the more mistakes they will make, resulting in more returns and chargebacks. If you need someone to double-check the contents of every box being shipped, that can be a sign that too many errors are being made in picking and packing. A good WMS system tames the complexity by providing simple, unambiguous step-by-step guidance for tasks in a complex environment, while verifying correct execution at each step (e.g. via barcode scanning).

Missed deadlines/high expediting costs. Too many late or expedited shipments, and/or inability to keep up with each day’s orders. Your workers may be walking much further than needed to fill each order. They may be handling items, cases and pallets more times than necessary. Different items for an outbound shipment may arrive at the shipping area at vastly different times, clogging up and slowing down shipping operations. Causes include suboptimal layout, poor slotting decisions, suboptimal picking sequences and paths and extra time spent looking for items. A warehouse and WMS that have been configured for optimized slotting increase the pace of picking and ensure that cycle counts are done efficiently (resulting in higher inventory accuracy). The WMS can also ensure that invoices are issued in a timely manner once items are shipped.

Low fill rates/low perfect order rates. Orders are not being filled completely, or with damaged or incorrect items, or incorrectly invoiced. A portion of low fill rate problems may be caused by inaccurate forecasts or late deliveries from the supplier, but low fill rates can also be due to inaccurate inventory records, poor visibility into stock on hand and picking issues, all of which can be fixed by a WMS.

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At the same time, Amazon (and other competitors) are raising the bar on rapid, error-free fulfillment at low cost per unit. Consumers have come to expect that orders will consistently ship the same day, without mistakes or any wrong items. Top retailers are also very demanding, with serious deductions and chargebacks for mistakes. Any business, including a small business, that is slow or sloppy in their warehouse and fulfillment operations, risks losing customers to those that can execute well. So how does a business know when it's time to take the plunge to implement WMS? Here are 10 signs that it is time to consider making the move to a WMS for your warehouse or DC:

Error rates climbing or unacceptable. Too many errors such as wrong items or quantity shipped, incorrectly packed, damaged goods, incorrect paperwork and other customer claims. Human beings make mistakes. The more complex, chaotic, fast paced and unguided the environment and tasks become, the more mistakes they will make, resulting in more returns and chargebacks. If you need someone to double-check the contents of every box being shipped, that can be a sign that too many errors are being made in picking and packing. A good WMS system tames the complexity by providing simple, unambiguous step-by-step guidance for tasks in a complex environment, while verifying correct execution at each step (e.g. via barcode scanning).

Missed deadlines/high expediting costs. Too many late or expedited shipments, and/or inability to keep up with each day’s orders. Your workers may be walking much further than needed to fill each order. They may be handling items, cases and pallets more times than necessary. Different items for an outbound shipment may arrive at the shipping area at vastly different times, clogging up and slowing down shipping operations. Causes include suboptimal layout, poor slotting decisions, suboptimal picking sequences and paths and extra time spent looking for items. A warehouse and WMS that have been configured for optimized slotting increase the pace of picking and ensure that cycle counts are done efficiently (resulting in higher inventory accuracy). The WMS can also ensure that invoices are issued in a timely manner once items are shipped.

Low fill rates/low perfect order rates. Orders are not being filled completely, or with damaged or incorrect items, or incorrectly invoiced. A portion of low fill rate problems may be caused by inaccurate forecasts or late deliveries from the supplier, but low fill rates can also be due to inaccurate inventory records, poor visibility into stock on hand and picking issues, all of which can be fixed by a WMS.

Read Full Article

10 Signs It's Time to Automate Your Warehouse With WMS