Smart Warehousing in 2021: Automate Warehouse Management Software to Cut Costs and Optimize Inventory

As clients expect deliveries in hours, warehouse managers experience a more increased workload than ever. Warehouse management system (WMS) reduces costs, increases speeds, and prevents errors while making both employees and clients happier.
8 min read
29/03/21
All articles
By Denis Baranov
Head of Retail & Distribution Practice
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Smart Warehousing in 2021: Automate Warehouse Management Software to Cut Costs and Optimize Inventory

It seems appealing to include all possible advancements in WMS, yet many companies wonder if it is affordable and helpful in meeting their immediate needs. This article will explore how to automate warehouse management software to cut costs and optimize inventory, with case studies about WMS development and implementation.

Art of Efficiency in Warehouse Management

A modern omnichannel fulfillment warehouse allows a company to use different strategies to fulfill customers' needs, where automation improves its process. Shipping works smoothly, and the warehouse is designed most ergonomically. Every detail counts to create quantifiable results.

As a rule, the storekeeper spends most of the "empty" time on finding the right product or material. A company must create software to increase efficiency. This software will help find the most optimal location of the goods, weigh all the requirements and arguments, and then draw up a plan for the placement of goods and materials and make sure that people do not violate the established procedure to replenish inventories. A company must sign racks to facilitate the search multiple times.

Software solutions can reduce risks,  increase productivity by taking pressure off real people, and prepare the business for any potential crisis. The latest technology can bring the company to a whole new level of productivity with less struggle.

Using the software, scanners and barcode printers, electronic scales, integrated meters solves multiple problems, saves time, and minimizes human error. Warehouse software should be easy to learn, easy to use, and have access rights limitations.

Each employee should have only their functions, for example, warehouse manager access to reports on material balances and statements of movements. Employee's signatures should secure every operation - at the end of the day, the Head of Warehouse must be able to access papers offline or online if needed.

Six Ways to Optimize WMS

1. Bring Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Manual Labour  

AI gathers data from sensors, detects patterns, and provides solutions to any possible issues, be that timely replenishment of almost gone items or better routes. The ability to learn on its own can improve systems in ways that humans cannot do.

A standard solution in AI in Retail is warehouse robotics. Ocado, the UK's retail industry leader, is known for using robotics in their warehouse management systems. Here is why warehouse robotics matter: 24/7 warehouse operation, accurate numbers about inventory, and reduced labor costs are no fantasy but a reality that can be replicated in your business.

2. Use Sensors to Digitize Information   

Sensing capability transforms physical objects into digital data. Using sensors, managers can have better warehouse inventory control; they can get analytics and numbers in real-time, which leads to endless possibilities of improvement. It is a solution to low inventory accuracy at the SKU level, which promotes visibility with its suppliers, distributors, and customers.

It is important to note that sensors in a warehouse allow data to be accessible through software (e.g., inventory, shipping purchase). Everything that happens in a warehouse is available for monitoring and analysis through a screen. It allows to analyze the numbers faster and optimize operations quicker. Interoperability is a task of its own because it connects different databases that use other formats, but the results are impressive.

Optimize your WMS

3. Choose the Right Warehouse Management Software for Your Business

WMS can add towards inventory collection and storage, manual and automated picking, shipping, and tracking items. WMS integration can benefit operations of all sizes and all levels.

For example, a widespread solution is a 3pl warehouse management system. 3pl software optimizes operations to accommodate e-commerce processes, reduce billing times, automate routine workflows and free up time to care for customers instead of fighting with internal struggles with logistics.

It also helps to have warehouse order checklists because they are generated automatically in an automated WMS once your customers complete an order.

Another good strategy is omnichannel order management (OMS): the system that runs your omnichannel retail business. The main benefit of OMS is flexibility to meet all customer needs. You can mitigate expectations with routing numbers and have safety stock levels that continuously have enough product for any demand. Store operation also gets more comfortable with flexible OMS.

4. Take Care of Warehouse Setup Project Plan  

Designing an e-commerce warehouse management is a part of the long-term improvement of warehouse functioning. The layout should allow for goods to flow and system technology to handle it with minimum efforts on transportation and overall costs. The whole model can be optimized in the very beginning with quantifiable and comparable alternative approaches to the solution.

E-commerce warehouse layout must be able to scale. To plan a good warehouse means to plan strategically, considering opportunities to grow and expand your business in time and predicting what situations can make automation solutions ineffective. Preparation can ensure that business runs smoothly in the long-run and can change according to a situation.

As for the flow of a warehouse, it should be seamless. Every piece of a puzzle is in its own place to complete the picture: people are located close to places where they frequently go, there is no conflict of traffic, materials move without any obstacles and interruptions. Every spot should be accessible to trucks and anyone who might need to come over there.

5.Speed up Logistics by Using Cross Docking 

Cross-docking is a common practice at large companies, and even Walmart Inventory Management uses this technique. In cross-docking, suppliers' trucks and the company's trucks meet and transfer products between each other, then they go straight to the stores. It has many benefits that improve efficiency and increase the speed of turnaround to making deliveries faster, such as:

  • Skipping a warehouse altogether. Cross dock facility is more accessible to construct than a warehouse and does not require as much space. You can also save money on inventory and maintenance.
  • Saving on transportation and distribution costs. As many products should be delivered to the same destination, more trucks can pick them up in batches and deliver with fewer trips.
  • Frequent product screening. Automation at the terminals means that products are regularly scanned, and shipment is updated and fast.
Optimize your WMS system with us

Cross-docking can be used for single-item units that get sorted into boxes according to order quantities, or pre-picked units with various items that get transshipped to subsidiaries as they arrive – it all depends on the type of your warehouse and can be customized.

6. Improve E-commerce Logistics to Reduce Costs    

Warehouse picking optimization helps navigate order pickers through a warehouse by calculating the most optimized way. As well as helps to automate new orders and delivery.

Automation has many benefits: reduced spending, high speeds, and prevention of errors that create a wonderful experience for customers. With automation, the company has options: automate the whole process by adding robots to the scene, or add new software that simplifies the process.

It is essential to look at every stage, such as loading and unloading. Little things like product labeling should be seamless (using software, for example) and help a storekeeper increase work efficiency. A separate topic is where invoices are printed, in the warehouse or the office, whether they arrive at the warehouse electronically or the client himself carries the papers to the warehouse.

Implementing new software is essential to track information that helps develop the best solutions possible. Here is a checklist of what you should take note for logistics optimization audit:

  • Warehouse zoning
  • Product movement trajectory
  • Staff workload
  • Required number of rack systems
  • Organization of reception, storage, selection, and movement of goods
  • More efficient use of storage space
  • Warehouse maintenance costs.

Except for best practices, companies should avoid some simple mistakes that increase costs and reduce efficiency. Such mistakes include:

  • Incorrect zoning and placement of rack systems, when the route of transportation, loading, and unloading
  • Lack of space for assortment placement
  • Lack of personnel and equipment to maintain the system
  • Long order picking time
  • Broken racks and bent beams, lack of safe working conditions
  • Personnel is required to perform a manual selection.

Costs of WMS Software

Considering all the above, it might seem that optimization of WMS software is unachievable, but in reality, companies can easily manage their budgets to suit their goals. To plan your costs associated with WMS selections, there are specific questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is your budget?
  • What pricing model do you need?
  • What are installation costs?
  • What WMS features do you need?
  • What are any hidden fees?

Orchestrating all warehouse processes is more accessible than ever. Apart from business and cost benefits, it can also take tension off your workers and reduce the amount of manual labor – all while your business can reach the highest speeds of fulfillment possible. DataArt experts have 20+ years of experience in creating custom software for businesses of all sizes. Reach out to DataArt today to learn more about services that can help you to bring technology into your business.

Implementation of the WMS system allows you to automate and streamline all the processes associated with the acceptance, storage, assembly, and shipment of goods:

  • Warehouse throughput increases
  • Decreased dependence on staff
  • Reduced errors to a minimum
  • Improved manageability
  • Transparency of all processes appears
  • Investments in a WMS system quickly pay off.
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