Welcome back to the second part of my Distribution Series blog. If you missed “Part 1: WMS – Which Management System & Where to Begin?” don’t worry, here’s the link. In part 2, I am going to expand into more detail on some of the Warehouse Management Solution features you need to think about specific to your warehouse.
If you need to transfer product between warehouses it is important that your WMS solution work effectively with more than one warehouse. This can impact licensing, so also look for additional cost for software and implementation.
Solutions have different options when it comes to receiving. Some of them simply extend the capabilities of your ERP solution. This means you can only receive in a unit of measure that is captured in your ERP. Others only allow you to receive based on the Unit of Measure that is in the Purchase Order. Be sure to discuss all the ways that you receive product (each, container, case, pallet, etc).
Serial Lot Control
Would you like to scan serial numbers as part of your receiving process or pick product based on when a product was received. You may also need to track expiration dates or put items in specific bins. This is likely an optional module so don’t worry if you decide you don’t need this now but it would make sense to implement in the future.
This feature generally allows you to move a group of multiple types of products around the warehouse in a group or a pallet to transfer from one location to the next. You may need this feature if you are moving a number of items from receiving to a pre-put away bin or if you are going to move a number of items into an assembly process.
Tote Based or Container Based Picking
You may have people that pick more than one order at a time. If so this feature is valuable to your team so make sure you discuss this need with a WMS solution provider.
Pick, Pack, & Ship
Sounds like a feature that every WMS would provide. However, some solutions only take you through the pick and pack and not the shipping process. Be aware of what you need for your business and the level of integration you require with shipping carriers. Also, if you have your own delivery trucks does the software integrate with or provide a routing solution.
Inventory Cycle Counting
Be sure that the WMS solution works with the type of inventory cycle counting you want to perform. If you like what is offered in your ERP solution then make sure this extends to the WMS. If you don’t like you Cycle Counting Features in your ERP does the WMS solution provide more options and make this process more user friendly. Also know that for some solutions, inventory cycle counting freezes your inventory bin which means that product cannot be sold. While other solutions allow you to continue to fulfill orders. Whether you need to count via ABC, velocity or other methods, please know what your options are for your business.
Sales Order Picking / Inventory Replenishment
Most of the solutions are built around the picking process and offer some robust features. Make sure you understand what is important to your team. For example,
- Can you create a sales order from a hand-held device?
- Can multiple people pick one order?
- Does the solution tell you the preferred bin to pick from?
- Do you have to pick as soon as the order is released or can orders go to a manager and be assigned to a specific picker, etc.?
ROI / Return on Investment
One final item. It is imperative that you know or understand you cost of doing business. What are you spending to process order, receive inventory, ship product? By setting this base-line you will be able to work with the WMS solution provider to set expectations on anticipated cost savings per day, per week, per year. Most importantly you will know how long it takes for your WMS solution to pay for itself.
There is so much more to talk about with Warehouse Management Solutions. I hope this helps you to prepare for these conversations and to find the right solution to meet the needs of your business. (NOTE: If you are a Crestwood Client, our team will walk you through this entire process, listening to your needs and goals, and share our expertise as needed.)