In our opening article on the topic we discussed how using a WMS can provide measurable improvement in warehouse performance. Clearly, for an accurate measure, rather than one based on guesswork, you’ll need to gather some data on current performance in key areas. Initially this means looking at areas most likely to show a clear ‘before and after’ indication of improvement. Time to process receipts and putaways, order pick times and measurement of picked volumes are examples.  

As suggested last time the best way to gain improved performance is to create the ideal WMS process to support a specific activity. When looking at any warehouse process, the WMS should aim to reduce or streamline it in a number of areas, particularly in relation to physical handling and data recording, while also eliminating paper usage and non-real time updates. 

In goods receiving for example, the aim is to offload and process goods to putaway status as fast as possible. The ideal of a ‘single-scan’ receipt may, for various reasons, not be reality in many warehouses, but achieving a slick real time, single-step receipt process should be.  

Key WMS functions to support this include the ability to handle ‘blind’ or pre-advised (PO/ASN) receipts, variable data input by product or supplier and elimination of keyboard input if scan options exist. It must also allow real-time exception handling and control of receipt tolerance to minimise failed receipts and interventions which impact on receiving efficiency.

The effect of these factors should make for a streamlined procedure which allows greater capacity with existing personnel and delivers radically improved performance in a key warehouse activity. 

You may also be interested in: Warehouse Performance Part One: What is warehouse performance?