Warehouse management system

A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, putaway and picking. The systems also direct and optimize stock putaway based on real-time information about the status of bin utilization.

Warehouse management systems often utilize Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC) technology, such as barcode scanners, mobile computers, wireless LANs and potentially Radio-frequency identification (RFID) to efficiently monitor the flow of products. Once data has been collected, there is either a batch synchronization with, or a real-time wireless transmission to a central database. The database can then provide useful reports about the status of goods in the warehouse.

The objective of a warehouse management system is to provide a set of computerized procedures to handle the receipt of stock and returns into a warehouse facility, model and manage the logical representation of the physical storage facilities (e.g. racking etc), manage the stock within the facility and enable a seamless link to order processing and logistics management in order to pick, pack and ship product out of the facility.

Warehouse management systems can be stand alone systems, or modules of an ERP system or supply chain execution suite.

The primary purpose of a WMS is to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse – you might even describe it as the legs at the end-of-the line which automates the store, traffic and shipping management.

In its simplest form, the WMS can data track products during the production process and act as an interpreter and message buffer between existing ERP and WMS systems. Warehouse Management is not just managing within the boundaries of a warehouse today, it is much wider and goes beyond the physical boundaries. Inventory management,inventory planning, cost management, IT applications & communication technology to be used are all related to warehouse management. The container storage, loading and unloading are also covered by warehouse management today.Warehouse management today is part of SCM and demand management. Even production management is to a great extent dependent on warehouse management. Efficient warehouse management gives a cutting edge to a retail chain distribution company. Warehouse management does not just start with receipt of material but it actually starts with actual initial planning when container design is made for a product. Warehouse design and process design within the warehouse (e.g. Wave Picking) is also part of warehouse management. Warehouse management is part of Logistics and SCM.

Warehouse Management monitors the progress of products through the warehouse. It involves the physical warehouse infrastructure, tracking systems, and communication between product stations.

Warehouse management deals with receipt, storage and movement of goods, normally finished goods, to intermediate storage locations or to final customer. In the multi-echelon model for distribution, there are levels of warehouses, starting with the Central Warehouse(s), regional warehouses services by the central warehouses and retail warehouses at the third level services by the regional warehouses and so on. The objective of warehousing management is to help in optimal cost of timely order fulfillment by managing the resources economically. Warehouse management = "Management of storage of products and services rendered on the products within the four wall of a warehouse"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Warehouse Management System Benefits

By Ron James

The movement and storage of materials within the warehouse will be controlled by the warehouse management system. Automation of transactions that pertain to warehouse management systems lets users locate the stock, assess the quantity and also direct warehouse tasks.

Advanced technology used in warehouse management systems will enable the optimization of warehousing functions. Such functions may be defined as all of the inventory movements and the information that flows in-between. These systems are being used by businesses of every size, with the smaller to mid-size businesses being especially interested and recognizing the benefits of using warehouse management systems.

Integrating warehouse management systems in an organization will achieve better operating practice and will also allow inventory, equipment, labor and space to be used much more effectively. Upon implementing such an operating system, a business can improve flexibility, increase the accuracy of inventory, reduce labor costs and enhance its customer service.

Specifically, a warehouse management system will allow businesses to automate their inventory movement. Consequently, accuracy of inventory records improves and inventory turnover increases. More accuracy in stock control will also enable companies to use warehouse space more efficiently, thus enabling the reception, packing and shipping of their inventory to be undertaken more efficiently which in turn improves productivity and reduces the costs associated with inventory holding.

The potential to update information in the electronic inventory, given the integration with the warehouse management system, has resulted in a higher level of accuracy, reduced red-tape and the ability to alter inventory information in a simplified manner. The electronic data which is captured can also be used to monitor the working practices of a business, thus ensuring that stock will be replenished where necessary and avoiding the need for physical inventories. Operating warehouses electronically leads to standardization of inventory movements and picking methods which results in low error rates, in comparison to manual data entry.

Warehouse management systems enable organizations to streamline business processes. This allows more accurate determination of the demand for and availability of inventory, in addition to the ability to deliver requested stock, thus ensuring improved customer service.

Ron James is knowledgeable in many areas of warehouse optimization procedures giving advice on areas such as warehouse management system implementation.

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Fundamentals of Warehousing

By Edna Love

Warehousing is one of the most important logistical aspects that new businesses fail to take into account while formulating their business plans. Need for warehouse plays a major role in the budgetary considerations of any new venture, as it calls for creating infrastructure in the form of storage buildings, means of transportation, and associated maintenance costs and manpower. In fact, this work is different form core business aspects and requires certain level of expertise and knowledge. The following are certain basic fundamentals and facts pertaining to this warehousing concept.

1. Warehousing is important for companies and firms that deal in manufactured goods and products. Furthermore, this can also have significance for companies providing services with respect to various equipment. However, this is only relevant when the company or firm does not have its own facilities.

2. Storage and transportation services can be acquired from outside agencies that specialize in these kinds of services or already have extensively established infrastructure in terms of transport and storage. Usually, companies prefer to blend the two concepts of renting storage space and having their own. More specifically speaking, companies have their own warehousing facilities near their base of operations and hire storage space when it is needed at some remote locations.

3. Warehousing is especially important for companies that are involved in export and import businesses. Material imported can be stored in the storage facilities located near the ports. This is particularly beneficial because until the goods are taken out of the storage facility, no duties are required to be paid. Furthermore, in case the goods are exported from the same location, no duties are also required to be paid.

4. The majority of storage facilities can be around ports, airports, industrial townships, and industrial sectors of major cities. These are the prime locations for companies and storage facilities. The location is advantageous from the point of view that spurious transportation costs can be reduced through the storage facilities. These locations are also ideal for storage facility owners because of the easy availability of clients.

5. The cost of hiring these storage facilities for the warehousing purpose varies depending on the services that are needed. Storage facilities range from fully manual to semiautomatic and to even fully automated, where even the cranes and forklifts are controlled by computerized software. The level of material security increases with rise in the level of automation in the warehouse. It has a direct bearing on the rent of storage units. In addition to this, storing perishable items requires climate control, such as cold storage, and hence costs more.

6. The process of keeping track of materials stored in the storage facility is known as Warehouse Management System (WMS). WMS calls for specialized skill and requires expertise in handling logistic aspects and computer software. Furthermore, big industrial storage facilities are also equipped with loading and unloading docks for trucks and transport vehicles to carry goods from or into warehouses. Also, some of these types of storage facilities, depending upon their location, can also be equipped with railway loading and unloading docks wherein goods can be loaded and unloaded directly from cargo trains.

Warehousing is one of the most important logistical aspects that new businesses fail to take into account while formulating their business plans.

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Green Logistics

What is Logistics?

Logistics is defined as a business planning framework for the management of material, service, information and capital flows. It includes the increasingly complex information, communication and control systems required in today's business environment. -- (Business definition, Logistix Partners Oy, Helsinki, FI, 1996)


What is Logistics Management?

  • Part of Supply Chain Management that plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customer’s requirements. (The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals formerly Council of Logistics Management)


What about Green Logistics?

       Also called Environmental Logistics

        Green logistics is a form of logistics which is calculated to be environmentally and often socially friendly in addition to economically functional.

       Studies show that up to 75% of carbon footprints come from transportation and logistics, the focus of supply chain greening is beginning to shift towards this area, where the opportunity to make the biggest difference exists.


Green Logistics Initiatives

  • Proper transportation and disposal of hazardous materials

  • Reverse Logistics - The process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient, cost effective flow of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of consumption to the point of origin for the purpose of recapturing value or proper disposal.

  • Life Cycle Analysis - involves viewing the purchased item from cradle to grave to determine its impact on the environment and on the total cost of doing business. Looking at it from an environmental perspective, this approach is useful because it examines the impact of the item on the environment at all stages of its life cycle, form product development up to and including ultimate disposal. Life cycle analysis should consider all available methods for waste reduction and management, including source reduction, recycling, substitution and disposal.

  • Legislation - Countries adopt an environmental and recycling legislation

-          Ban on use of plastic foam, polyethylene, corrugated containers and similar materials from landfills and incinerators

-          Minimize creation of waste through tax incentives and provision of public information and technical assistance


  • Green Manufacturing - Design, develop and produce product with the goal of reducing the waste created when the product reaches the end of its useful life such as minimizing the use of packaging materials. Also includes recycling, refurbishing or safely disposing of a product and its components.
  • Redesigning warehousing and distribution center networks to minimize movement or use of any transportation means.

  • Reducing hazardous emissions (CO2, etc) by switching to renewable energy sources.