Proper warehouse management is essential to ensure smooth operation of the supply chain. The Covid-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the vulnerabilities in the global supply chain. Whether the business is engaged in manufacturing or trading, a sound warehouse management system is vital to enable agile decision making in this fast-paced world where plans could be dismantled at a moment’s notice. It is irrational to assume that supply chain management is reserved for the big players in the market. The vagaries of logistics and supply chain affect businesses irrespective of their size or nature.
According to the firm Ken Research, the Australian warehousing and logistics market is set to hit $187bn by 2021. With the rapid adoption of e-commerce by customers, the forward distribution chain will further up to the customer’s door. Whether the business runs out of giant factory mass-producing goods or a boutique enterprise running out of a garage, these management systems are the tools to ensure smooth operations in the supply chain. The supply chain runs both backward and forward, involving lots of vendors and even more customers. Add to these product-specific characteristics such as quick perishability or extra storage care, managing the inventory itself becomes a humongous task. And this is where a sound management system seeks to automate and consolidate inventory, logistics and supply chain management which would otherwise have required considerable human power.
Types of Warehouse Management Systems
Before delving into the features of a sound management system, it is essential to get acquainted with the basic types available in the market. There are three types of systems viz. standalone, ERP integrated and cloud-based.
1. Standalone systems provide inventory and logistics management alone and are suitable for 3PL (3rd party logistics co.’s).
2. ERP integrated systems are nothing but software for the entire business, with modules for accounting, human resources, and supply chain management all bundled together in one software.
3. Cloud-based systems, on the other hand, maybe either standalone or ERP integrated. They differ from the former two in that a cloud-based system does not require any computing resource or special infrastructure requirement as the data is saved on servers of the software vendor.You can also Read: snowflake data warehouse
The features of a sound warehouse management system
1. Inventory Management
The basic functionality of a sound inventory management system is a smooth flow of inbound and outbound logistics. The system should have capabilities for purchases, sales, stock levels (maximum, minimum, safety), receiving goods etc. Apart from this, Bar code scanning or RFID (radio frequency identification) is usually expected.
2. Transaction Management
Transaction management, in essence, is the ability to track each item of goods from the initial point until the receipt of money after-sales. While in a trading enterprise, this may also begin with the receipt of goods itself. The ability to track and trace each item with the location and status ensures more robust inventory control.
3. Seamless Integration
A warehouse management system should easily integrate with the existing software used by the enterprise. It is to be prioritised if a standalone system is purchased since there may involve additional costs of conversion and integration of data in case of incompatibility. Mobile deployment through apps for warehouse workers would be advantageous.
4. Cost consideration
The costs saved by implementing the system in terms of better resource utilisation, optimal task management and delegation etc., is to be taken into account. Also, cloud-based systems offer additional cost savings in terms of nil infrastructure requirements. The up-fronts cost and implementation time must be economical.
5. MIS Capabilities & Continuing Support
An ideal system should provide value-added features such as MIS reporting as per user requirement and a ready dashboard of valuable metrics. Another aspect would be continued support from the vendor even after the set-up and training conclusion.