PAPER | WAREHOUSING
Warehouse Management System
Autostore warehouse management system software can control a wide range of configurations - from conventional sites with Radio Data Terminals (RDTs) to complex High-Bay Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). It can also be employed for raw material, work in progress and finished goods stores.
As with any IT project, specifying and installing a warehouse management system (WMS) depends on many operational factors. However, the single most important thing is this: always ensure that the technology you deploy supports your business objectives rather than defining them.
Here are our Top Tips for specifying a warehouse management software system: they are not exhaustive, but keep them in mind and you won’t go far wrong.
If you’re experiencing any (or all) of the following operational issues, then a WMS – or a reboot for your existing warehouse management control system – should be on the table:
Know what operational issues a WMS will address and assess the return on investment – then model those benefits against your bottom line. Look at areas like:
A good warehouse management system will scale with your business so make sure you have a clear idea of how your warehousing operations will look over five to ten years so you get it right first time.
Your project team should as large as necessary but as small as possible to maintain clarity: make sure it unites IT with operational management, warehousing and supply chain.
Take a good hard look at the warehouse management options based on where you want your business to be in the future. Ask yourself whether you need:
You may have just a few or dozens but regardless; end-user input at an early stage is crucial. Your warehouse management system operators will vary - from your warehouse crew and operational management right through to the boardroom where management information will be key. Do make sure you poll opinion and incorporate the feedback into the specification – it’ll make WMS acceptance a breeze.
With over 40 warehouse management system providers in the UK market alone, it’s a crowded space and thorough supplier research will best match their capabilities to your requirements. Look for suppliers with:
Sift the potential suppliers and aim for a tender list of three to five companies you’d like to invite. Avoid ‘mission creep’ in your WMS specification: once the spec is set, lock it – including your selection criteria.
Ensure all bidders break down the potential costs of a warehouse management system and then set your budget. WMS costs will usually include:
Your WMS provider is a long-term business partner providing a mission-critical element of your business. Alongside your key selection criteria (plus culture and ethos), it also pays to examine each provider’s WMS development path and the potential for innovation. Does each WMS development trajectory follow the market trends – or does it set them? If you discover it’s the latter, then you’re probably onto a good thing.