Optimizing Your WMS: Focusing on the 3 Ps

Optimizing Your WMS

The past few years have taught the supply chain lessons in agility – it’s a necessity for doing business in an ever-changing landscape. When you drill down to various areas within the supply chain, the warehouse is a good place to focus on adding agility, and using software like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) can help with that.

When your WMS focuses specifically on the three Ps – Process, People, and Product – you can build more agility into your operations.

Process – One of the chief benefits of WMS for agility is that it can help with your floor layouts, configuring them to allow for flexibility. The software can provide useful data that reports on picking locations and lines throughout the warehouse, identifying those spots that see the most traffic. It can even create heat maps, in some cases, so that you can determine your busiest zones. From here, you can dial in on the volumes picked in each location and generate the best picking sequences for your employees to follow. With this capability, you can review the heat maps each season or quarter, adjusting as needed.

People – Another area where a WMS can help with agility is employee performance trends. When a WMS has an audit trail feature, you can look at performance numbers such as picking error rates, non-conformance to established rules, and more. An example might include the software directing an employee to a location for storing a pallet. If the operator chooses another location, he or she would need to perform an override of the system’s recommendation. The warehouse records that data and allows you to work with staff to make the appropriate changes.

WMS can also help with staffing issues by managing your efficiencies. As you onboard new team members, a WMS can help get them up to speed, often within an hour or two. A WMS can guide staff through tasks without them needing a deep-level understanding of the overall warehouse functions. With reporting built in, the WMS can also flag new employees who might need additional training as they go on. This helps prevent bottlenecks and keeps products moving efficiently throughout the four walls.

Product – a WMS can perhaps make the biggest dent in your ability to become agile. As WMS reports inventory accuracy via real-time capture of all product movement, management can make informed, quick decisions about how to manage inventory. Dynamic slotting capabilities are built into most WMS packages, which can identify storage openings, allowing you to move products around as needed. You’ll be optimizing your available space, leading to storage gains as high as 30 percent. A WMS accomplishes this by providing details on all movement from the past week, month, and season. You learn when to expect large shipments when shelves tend to have more space and how to shift products around accordingly.

With a focus on the three Ps, your WMS can assist you in becoming an agile operation poised for the future.