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Warehouse Management Systems in 2022

WMS – Are you leading your facility in the right direction?

Running warehouse logistics and operations efficiently without some type of warehouse management system (WMS) is time-consuming, error-prone and unlikely to satisfy business objectives. The right WMS solution will reduce operating expenses, provide clear visibility into the storage and movement of goods, increase security and strengthen relationships with suppliers and customers.

What is a Warehouse Management System? 

Gartner defines a warehouse management system (WMS) as “a software application that helps manage and intelligently execute the operations of a warehouse or distribution centre (DC).” WMS software provides solutions for companies looking to streamline operations, increase efficiency and reduce costs. WMS uses tools such as mobile devices, barcoding and RFID scanning/sensing to deliver accurate and complete real-time information. Applications may be cloud-based, often on a subscription model, or be offered as an on-premise solution. 

What can a WMS do?   

Warehouse Management solutions typically provide similar core functionality including:  

  • Receipt & put-away of goods into the warehouse.
  • Management and prioritisation of replenishments and the movement of goods within the warehouse.
  • Waving, allocation and the efficient picking of orders (by various picking strategies).
  • Packing, dispatching and shipping orders.
  • Inventory management throughout all processes, ensuring stock quantities and locations are tracked.

Despite the core functionality being similar, WMS products vary dramatically in their total functional breadth, scope, ease of implementation, their extended capabilities, flexibility and the ability of the solution to match a particular industry or operation.

Finding the right WMS solution for you

There is no one “best” solution. Selecting the best for you depends on your unique requirements and your level of supply chain maturity. Making an informed decision means understanding your options and which type of application is best suited to you. Picking a product which aligns well with your operation is key to unlocking value and avoiding costly modifications. Choosing the wrong system can be costly, damaging and frustrating. Many systems fail to deliver fully due to poor implementation.  

The market landscape

There are four main types of WMS available:

  1. ERP Vendors

Infor, Oracle, Dynamics and SAP are primarily players in the ERP space, although also offer WMS. These leading vendors offer broad portfolios of applications across most supply chain functions. These WMS products can be deployed standalone, however often provide a deep level of integration into the ERP which can be an advantage if the ERP is already being used. The level of integration into the ERP and ability/fit to be deployed standalone varies from vendor to vendor.

   2. Supply Chain Suite Vendors

Vendors in this category identified as leaders include Blue Yonder (formerly JDA), Reply, Körber (formerly HighJump and Inconso) and Manhattan Associates. These vendors offer a holistic WMS plus a portfolio of two or more other applications focused primarily on SCM. These can include the broader logistics functions (e.g., warehousing, transportation and global trade), supply chain planning (SCP), customer service (e.g., order management and omnichannel management) or sourcing and procurement. They usually exclude financials, customer relationships or human resources management. Some provide an integrated platform.

   3. Specialist WMS Vendors

These are independent software vendors who specialise and focus primarily on WMS. Examples here would be SnapFulfil, Made4Net and JASCI. These applications are often “cloud-based”, often on a subscription model, and referred to software-as-a-service (Saas). A cloud-based solution eliminates the need for maintaining complex hardware/software infrastructure, thereby keeping overhead costs to a minimum.

   4. Automation-centric vendors

Some material handling equipment/automation vendors also offer WMS capabilities as part of their portfolio of products. Vendors in this category are Mecalux, Knapp and SSI Schaeffer. 

Trends in Warehouse Management Systems

According to Gartner, although the WMS market is mature, competition is growing. Offerings continue to improve in usability, adaptability, intelligence, scalability up and down market, and life cycle costs. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and the increased connectivity of tools such as voice, augmented reality and robots will continue to be embedded in the latest offerings. Emerging WMS vendors are also challenging established leaders by offering a compelling total cost of ownership, adaptability and new flexible deployment models. 

Organisations with a high level of maturity in warehouse management may consider solutions with more advanced functions such as: 

  • Workforce/labour management
  • Slotting
  • Yard management
  • Voice picking
  • Third-party billing
  • Value-added services such as light manufacturing/kitting

Are you in the market for a WMS?  SCCG can help you:

  • Assess your existing processes to identify opportunities for improvement and build a supporting systems roadmap.
  • Carry out a tender process to select the right WMS partner for your business.
  • Create a system specification that is aligned with your warehouse processes, industry best-practice and meets business goals.
  • Manage your WMS implementation to ensure project success.

Send your enquiry today.

Do you have a question about one of our services or are you working on a supply chain project and need assistance? Get in touch.

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