In the first part of this two part blogpost I covered a few ways a warehouse management solution will help better manage the activity and work done by the warehouse staff.  So lets look at a few more ways a WMS interacts with the warehouse personal.

Reduced Q&A Requirements

Non-automated warehouses and distribution centers quite often use a significant amount of labor in the checking of orders before they are shipped.  While this is a good thing and keeps your customers satisfied the cost of this process is extremely high.  This step often occurs during the packing or shipping function.  In most cases it requires additional staff to accomplish this function.

A WMS validates order picking transactions at the moment the picker selects the product.  If the picker selects the wrong item the system alerts them.  This is the power of scanning the location and barcode.  This improves the accuracy of the picked orders to the extent that checking the order once it is picked is a redundant process and can be eliminated.  If the verification is required the process is streamlined by the scanning process and manual counting is removed from the work.  By verifying the pick when it occurs many operations can employ “pick to carton” which removes even more processes from the work load and streamlines the operation, saving a tremendous amount of time.    If the operation can pick to carton this gives them the ability to print ASN and shipping labels on the fly which improves the speed and accuracy of the warehouse and the shipping process.

System Directed Activities

The use of a “best in breed” WMS provides the user with system directed operations to accomplish specific tasks in the warehouse.  These tasks can be manipulated by the warehouse/operations manager.   For example a picker can be directed through the warehouse in the most efficient path to pick orders.  this saves steps and wasted time wandering through the isles.  A picker can be assigned several orders at once and the WMS will calculate the best path to pick all the order..  Stock handlers can be directed to a location to put-away product.  No guess work or putting items in a location that later can’t be found.  Receivers can receive multiple orders at once directed by the WMS for maximum efficiency.  Inventory can be cycled counted quickly with nearly 100% accuracy which keeps your inventory current and removes the need to do time consuming money wasting physical inventories.  And one more significant area that is improved is bin replenishment.  This is driven by the way you set up your bins but the process becomes automatic ensuring that the picker will rarely if ever arrive at a pick bin that is unable to fulfill their order.  This saves a huge amount of time and effort.

Labor Standard Reporting 

The better WMS solutions provide reporting on all the areas mentioned above.  Once a warehouse staff person logs into a handheld to begin their work what they do is tracked and recorded.  Each pick, receipt, move put-away or stock replenishment is documented electronically and automatically within the WMS.  With this information at a warehouse managers fingertips he or she can better manage the staff.  reward those that work hard help those that may need additional training to perform their duties more efficiently and spot those that are not getting the job done.   This will help organizations spot their best workers and reward them and see where the problems are and give the management the tools and information needed to deal with problems objectively.

For more information on how a warehouse or distribution center would operate when employing a WMS solution click here and down load an informative white paper.