Question. What is the warehouse? According to some common yet biased opinions, a warehouse is a sort of the black sheep of an enterprise. It is regarded as a place that generates nothing but additional costs, freezes working capital and complicates the work of a business. This is the reason why many executives choose to pay little attention to warehouses and its staff (unless they are similar to Michael Scott from “The Office”, of course). For instance, just 26% of the industry’s CEOs see warehouses and distribution centers as growth-driving assets of their venture. As Mark Wheeler, the CEO of Warehouse Solutions, Motorola Solutions put it: “Warehousing and distribution have not traditionally been the most celebrated functions within leading businesses across manufacturing, retail and wholesale industries”.
However, the domain of modern logistics is on the rise, and new ventures inevitably appear which leads to the growth of their infrastructure. The report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the number of operating warehouses has increased by 10.4% over the last couple of years – an increase of over 1,600 new warehouses in the U.S alone.
It’s fair to say that describing a warehouse manager’s job as just busy would be an understatement. They have to manage, control, and track inventory as efficiently as possible on a daily basis. And it’s impossible to stress enough how painful the process of management is if a manager is in charge of multiple warehouses when the workload and stress increase tenfold. That’s why a decent warehouse management software is a must-have solution for logistics managers.
WMS (warehouse management system) is the brain of a modern warehouse, if I may put it this way. The progenitors of modern solutions began to appear in the early 90s, along with the availability of new powerful computer systems. Two and a half decades later, warehouse management programs have been improved and differentiated. Traditionally, such systems consist of two types:
- a customized system developed for a specific client;
- standard equipment;
A properly-made WMS coordinates and synchronizes incoming and outgoing goods flows, internal regulatory operations, personnel work, loading and unloading equipment, robotic equipment and much more.
Automated accounting of goods in the warehouse depends on the following components:
- software is the central part of warehouse automation, which is responsible for the operation algorithms and logic of a WMS system;
- equipment — warehouse automation solutions involve the use of devices such as barcode scanners and printers, data collection terminals, label applicators, and so on;
- an individual project for the organization of warehouse accounting automation developed for each specific enterprise.
So, despite some level of scepticism, as many as 66% of retailers had plans to make a significant investment in warehouse and inventory management technology in 2018, according to The Motorola Future of Warehousing. Is there a contradiction? Not at all. If you check the report by PeopleVox, you’ll notice that the consequences of human error are seen as the top problem in 46% of all warehouses.