The warehouse management system (WMS) is the linchpin of the warehouse, where all logistics processes – inside and outside the warehouse – come together. The implementation of a WMS is a complex project that requires intensive planning. Choosing the right software requires thoroughness, as the decision for a warehouse management system is not only an investment, but also a long-term partnership with a software provider. With the help of the following checklist, you can determine what a potential partner and its warehouse management system should be capable of.
- Flexibly positioned for the future
A warehouse management system (WMS) that is geared to the future can control an automated and heavily networked warehouse infrastructure to its full extent. Different systems can be integrated into a powerful warehouse management system no matter what manufacturer. In addition, a state-of-the-art-software is IoT-compatible and mobile-ready, plus the functionality does not end at the warehouse boundaries: All logistical processes along the supply chain are optimized holistically. Production and transport can also be controlled more efficiently. If the logistics software has a modular structure, it can also be easily adapted to new processes. This is particularly necessary as manual processes in the warehouse become increasingly automated. Autonomous conveyor technology such as driverless transport systems (AGVs) and robotics are already part of everyday warehouse life in many companies. The triumphal procession of smart logistics cannot be stopped in view of structural changes in the working world – keyword: lack of skilled workers – and an increasing awareness of efficiency. A WMS provider should therefore have the know-how to combine these future technologies with your requirements and integrate them into the warehouse in a target-oriented way.
- Creating your own system landscape
Which logistics management software is best for you depends heavily on the complexity of the tasks which have to be mapped. Seasonal fluctuations, particularly high demands on delivery capability and many different articles increase the demands on the warehouse management system. True to the best of breed concept, many logistics companies therefore rely on a modular WMS that can be flexibly expanded by a wide range of functions – according to your individual requirements. Modern software infrastructures are characterized by various stand-alone solutions, such as tools for resource management or systems for material flow control (MFC) of automated storage units. If automated storage units from different manufacturers are in use, make sure you use an MFC solution that controls different automated systems regardless of the manufacturer. This requires the different systems and solutions to be able to communicate with each other quickly and easily. Your logistics systems should be able to be intelligently networked with each other and integrated into your warehouse management system without the need for costly interface adaptations.
- Cloud solution & customer-oriented support
A modern and modular WMS that grows with your logistics requirements is ideally located in a private business cloud. This allows you to benefit from the highly available networks of your technology partner. The result is maximum data and performance security. In addition, your warehouse management system in the cloud can be expanded particularly quickly and flexibly. This allows you to operate more cost-efficiently. Thanks to short response times, your software partner can provide you with fast support for applications at the operational level. This includes, for example, unrestricted availability and consulting that is ideally tailored to your industry-specific requirements.
- Practice-oriented user guidance
In comparison to an ERP logistics solution one major advantage of a dedicated warehouse management system is that it guides the users through the menus in a practice-oriented way, as it best suits their logistical processes. When assessing the different solutions, you should pay attention to a clear user interface that is easy to use even on mobile (warehouse) hardware such as smartphones, forklift terminals and MDE devices. In order to provide your employees the ideal access to your individually configured warehouse management system, professional software partners offer personal key user trainings according to the “train-the-trainer” principle.
- Dashboard with future-oriented analysis functions
Would you like to have all important information of your warehouse management at a glance? When making your selection, look out for comprehensive cockpit functions in which you can compile the most important information of your warehouse management software yourself. It should enable you to create an individual key performance indicator (KPI) dashboard. In a WMS dashboard, all logistics processes should be displayed transparently and in real time. In this way, you can identify potential challenges in everyday logistics at an early stage and approach them proactively. Modern warehouse management systems also enable the analysis of historical data in order to make predictions for future developments. Based on historical data as well as current live data, trends can be identified and concrete recommendations for action can be derived. These so-called “predictive analytics” processes are nowadays an indispensable component of a WMS dashboard.
- Promote mobile working – support Android
You use Android-based MDE’s, smartphones, tablets or smart watches for your logistics management? In this case, the WMS dashboard should also be accessible on mobile devices. Since the formerly dominant mobile operating system Windows CE will not be further developed and support for existing devices will no longer be available from 2020, Android is on the rise. While mobile devices based on Windows 10 and Windows Phone have no future, logistics IT developers are working on constantly expanding the possibilities of Android devices. Industry experts say: In a few years the Google operating system could have a market share of about 80 percent. In view of the growing supply, interested parties should find out how various providers of logistics management solutions are performing in the area of mobile working. In addition to a clear dashboard view, it is particularly important to protect sensitive (mobile) data and thus company interests.
Using this six-point checklist, you determine which functions or services you need in relation to a Warehouse Management System. This checklist serves as a benchmark for your potential software partner. As of now: Good luck with the evaluation of your new WMS!