The rise of e-commerce has brought about significant disruption to traditional logistics activities, demanding constant adjustment to best meet changing demand. Similar adaptability is vital in intralogistics to ensure orders are processed and fulfilled effectively. In this article, Stephen Hayes, managing director of Beckhoff UK, explains how to establish scalable, adaptable intralogistics activity from the warehouse floor up.
Warehouse Management Software, WMS, Warehousing Software, Warehouse Systems
A critical element within the wider supply chain, a warehouse management system (WMS) helps to manage the storage and distribution of goods within a warehouse or distribution centre (DC). The software stores and provides information on goods transactions such as receiving, putaway and picking and shipping, often based on real-time information related to bin utilisation. A WMS system also often incorporates the use of Auto Identification & Data Capture (AIDC) devices or systems – including barcode scanners, mobile computers, wireless LANs or Radio-frequency identification (RFID) – to help to optimise the efficient stocking and distribution of goods.
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Warehouse Management System
A warehouse is a commercial building used for the storage of goods and are usually cited in industrial areas. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, logistics companies, distributors, transport, freight forwarders, importers, exporters, wholesalers, etc. Warehouses usually have loading bays and docks and serve as a distribution centre for the loading and unloading of goods from trucks. Sometimes warehouses are designed for storage and despatch of goods directly from railways, airports or seaports.
A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and then organise and process all of the associated transactions such as shipping, receiving, put-away and picking. The systems also direct and optimise stock put-away based on real-time information about the status of bin utilisation. A WMS can be used by manufacturers in their own warehousing facilities or a logistics company (3Pl /4Pl) operating contracts for a number of clients and retailers.
Warehouses are an integral link in the modern supply chain, ensuring that the correct product is stored efficiently ,delivered in the right quantity, in good condition, at the required time, and at minimal cost. It performs an integral role in managing goods movement and information exchange between manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
A good Warehouse Management System (WMS) manages all types of warehouse operations efficiently and effectively. It also enhances inventory management by increasing accuracy, improving order fulfilment and reducing order cycle time. Receiving and shipping are streamlined as well to facilitate cross-docking and expedite back-ordered products.
A WMS can automate picking, packing and shipping and it will minimise the number of moves per order. The WMS can improve the accuracy of every order, reduce safety stock, manage tasks and improve processes. An efficient WMS can consolidate orders to reduce transportation and shipping costs. Data is collected within the warehouse environment by data-capture technology such as barcode scanners, mobile computers, wireless LANs and Radio-frequency identification (RFID). This information is then fed into a central WMS database to provide a real-time update on the overall inventory and specific SKU levels in the warehouse (stock keeping units). This information is then used to replenish the stock levels to ensure that there is sufficient flow of products. Once data has been collected, there is either a batch synchronization with, or a real-time wireless transmission to a central database. The database can then provide useful reports about the status of goods in the warehouse.
Bonded warehouses are specifically used as a secure holding or storage facility before duty is paid. Upon entry of goods into the warehouse, the importer and warehouse owner incur liability under a bond. Goods can be stored and held in a secure environment for a number of years before either being shipped on or released for distribution when the duty must then be paid.