Is your organization installed with a warehouse management system? Your warehouse management system is part of a USD 2.06 billion industry. Warehouse management systems or WMSs have revolutionized the way warehouses operate. Advancements in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and barcode technology have made tracking inventory much easier and more reliable than ever before.
Now that you have a warehouse management system in place, the next step is to cater to the ever-increasing challenges of omnichannel fulfillment, shrinking delivery timeframes, labor shortage, and small orders. Your warehouse management system needs new tools that can help you tackle all these and other productivity issues. If you are wondering how to improve a warehouse management system, here’s all the help you need:
1. Adopt machine learning that can sense and adapt
New software capabilities can meet a customer’s current needs. New algorithms can be added to the existing capabilities of your WMS. For example, machine learning can help shippers sense and adapt to changing conditions within their warehouses. So, if a picking process that’s underway suddenly shifted to a batch of hard-to-pick items, the system automatically shifts allocation, without any human intervention.
2. Combine M2M with your WMS
Machine-to-machine or M2M helps to streamline and monitor all the automation aspects of warehouse operations. With M2M integration into your WMS, you (and your organization) will have more control. You can efficiently operate all equipment within the warehouse that is important to the order fulfillment process.
Warehouse managers, on their part, can collect and exchange actionable information that can ensure the easy movement of operational procedures and to speed up decisions.
3. Incorporate warehouse robotics & voice tasking technology
Robotic technology is one of the most wanted and desired technologies today. Manufacturers are now partnering with WMS providers to create smart robots that are customized and can help in the movement of goods, storage, and successful sorting of warehouse inventory. Some of the known benefits of warehouse robotics include higher-order accuracy, better productivity, quick cycle times, reduced accidents, and reduced labor and operational costs.
Your WMS manages supply chain inventory, provides inventory visibility, and integrates with your transport management system to streamline the movement of goods from manufacturers to warehouses to retailers and, finally, to the customer. Voice tasking is a new technology that uses hands-free technology that makes use of spoken commands for a variety of jobs. Some commands include those to pick, put, receive, replenish, and warehouse shipping functions.
4. Take into account the WMS user interface
One of your priorities as a logistic manager is to look for “actionable” information. This information can only be obtained by sieving through mounds of data. But with more pressing tasks to take care of, you shouldn’t have to be bothered about looking for relevant and usable data. That is why warehouse management system vendors are now finding ways to make systems engaging and easier to use. By enhancing the user experience, they can also ensure the presentation of data in a more logical format. The idea is to make the user interface so simple to use that users won’t require training to learn the ropes of the system.
5. Invest in labor-management systems
The new labor management systems do two things for companies. They help control all operational costs, and they can accurately measure productivity. When combined with your existing warehouse management system, a labor-management system can help drive reductions in labor costs.
6. Integrate a Learning Management System
A Learning Management System (LMS) can be used to train warehouse operators regularly. With an LMS aligned with your WMS, you can create training sessions, training batches, training material, and training structures to suit your organization’s requirements. You can also send notifications to employees regarding their training schedules. An LMS can also be used to get feedback from employees regarding how effective they rated a particular training module. Based on that feedback, you can make changes to the module if necessary. The system can also be used to collect test results and create different types of training reports.
7. Introduce fulfillment optimization technology
There are a variety of warehouse technology solutions available to help you maximize the productivity of order picking and boost accuracy. The two leading fulfillment optimization technologies are pick-to-light and put-by-light solutions. With fulfillment optimization technology in place, you can automate even more warehouse processes at a low cost than manual picking methods.
A pick-to-light system uses light displays to update and direct warehouse operators to specific product locations. The system allows you to plan, control, and analyze volumes of orders picked.
A put-to-light system directs you to “how” and “where” to allocate products in a warehouse for orders. The put-to-light is very efficient when it involves picking from bulk stock. It is best suited for retail warehouses that deal with personal care items, sporting goods, convenience foods, general merchandise, and groceries.
The introduction of technological advancements will continue in the warehousing and logistics segments. Electronic data exchange, drones, and pick-by-vision are some new technologies that will soon become mainstream. However, it’s up to individual organizations and warehouse managers to determine need-to-have technologies and nice-to-have technologies. It is up to warehouse managers and organizations to keep abreast of these technologies and innovations and decide on what to incorporate.