How Configurable is your WMS?

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Time and space management are two ever-present challenges for all warehouse managers. Learn how a configurable Warehouse Management System (WMS) improves efficiency.

Changing Inefficient Operations

How many times have you seen an order selector going up and down warehouse aisles to pick an order one at a time, building a partial pallet which is then loaded for shipping? Repeating this process for every order compounds the inefficiencies that are a natural part of the process. Now imagine that same order selector being able to cluster pick multiple stops for the same route to a single pallet and consolidating partial pallets on the dock to maximize the truck space. The efficiencies gained as well as financial benefits begin with the first pass through the warehouse.

RF and voice-enabled devices are still important peripherals to a well-functioning WMS. But now, more is needed from your system. Not only must it be highly configurable to support your current business rules, it must be adaptable for when those rules change or when operations become more diverse.

Functions of a Highly Configurable WMS

A highly configurable WMS is a robust system to configure rules based on your operation and think one-step ahead to direct operators to the best possible choice. It uses advanced business rules and additional factors when building pick assignments to maximize operator productivity while achieving customer requirements such as:

  • For customers requiring the use of their own pallets, the WMS builds pick assignments for those customers by order while combining other customers on warehouse pallets to maximize the pallet cube.
  • For combined customers, the WMS breaks assignments based on the pallet cube, while minimizing the number of driver stops.
  • Matching assignments to a selector’s equipment by giving one assignment for a single pallet jack and two assignments for a double pallet jack.
  • Superseding previous rules to bulk pick specific items for all orders across the route, from controlled environments like a freezer or high security area.

Supporting different operational scenarios and maximizing efficiency translates to savings picking orders by reducing travel and time spent consolidating pallets for the driver.

A configurable WMS also supports rules for system-directed putaway based on product types, suppliers, owners, status or pick area. The system calculates the product and location dimensions to determine the best use of the warehouse space including:

  • Date rotation to determine if product can go the primary pick before overflow as well as selecting overflow closest to the pick.
  • Storing inventory in both assigned dedicated pick slots and non-dedicated pick locations.
  • Based on location type, determine if inventory needs to be replenished for dedicated and non-dedicated picks from overflow.
  • Allowing operators to perform exceptions provided the putaway is in the same zone as the pick.

With highly configurable putaway and replenishment rules, a WMS maximizes space to free up warehouse locations and ensures inventory in the pick slot. The system also helps save time with operators manually determining where to store product, reducing errors with product misplaced or lost in the warehouse, finding product and reducing travel between overflow and the pick.

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