Functions of a Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Before the availability of warehouse management software in conjunction with a WMS, to run a warehouse, managers and workers relied upon clipboards and paper lists. Inventories and the functions required to move product were limited. Today, the magnitude of inventory that can be processed through the walls of the warehouse using a WMS is immeasurable. The functionality available in today's warehouse management software makes this all possible. So, what are some of the functions of the WMS?
One important function, unavailable back in the paper days, is the concept of the Scheduler. The scheduler is a service that is capable of reserving dock time for a trailer based upon such metrics as when the trailer will be available, when the trailer must arrive at its destination, when product will be available for shipment, the amount of time required for product to be packaged, tagged, staged and loaded and more. No warehouse management system is complete without a schedule.
The Material-handling Supervisor is another service operating within the WMS that keeps track of the availability and location of the assets required to move product. Such assets include but are not limited to forklifts, totes, mobile devices and carts.
The inventory locator is a module that allows workers to find product within the warehouse. More than just a simple lookup table, the functionality of a locator can include one or more of the following features: a quick search, a multiple location search, a replenishment alert. If inventory is out of stock, the locator can also have the ability to identify when new product will be available, where it will be staged and trip a replenishment alert once it has arrived.
Inventory Pick Supervisor
Whether product is picked using voice technology, bar code scanning, radio frequency identification (RFID), the inventory pick supervisor controls the amount of product to be moved from a staging area onto the conveyor's (pick belts) or one of many other inventory picking configurations including pick to light, etc.
A shelflife supervisor is an invaluable asset for any WMS especially when it comes to food and beverage or consumer package good operations where the amount of time product remains on a shelf is important. Such functionality automatically routes product from the appropriate staging areas and forces bulk moves between staging areas depending upon expiration date of the product.
Additional WMS functionality should include cycle counting, inventory auditing, inventory counts, external hardware interfaces, database maintenance, report generation and more. Although this is not an exhaustive list of all the functionality available in today's WMS solutions, we hope you find this outline useful as you decide what the critical functions are in your warehouse operations.
Filed under WMS Basics