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How does an automated warehouse management system help warehousing operations?

Gaurav Bali
Gaurav Bali

21st September 2022

Introduction

Nowadays, automation is widely believed to be revolutionizing nearly every industry and organization in every corner of the business world. Automating your workflow is based on a straightforward concept. It is done to cut expenses and boost productivity. The process of automating a warehouse, however, can be challenging. A warehouse plays a big role in the supply chain. Before you can determine whether or which area of the warehouse needs automation, there are a number of moving factors and things to bear in mind. In this blog, we will discuss automated warehouse management systems and how they help in automating warehousing operations.

What is an Automated Warehouse Management System?

A wide range of tools and technologies that are smoothly integrated into warehouse management operations are called automated warehouse management systems. They enable managers to streamline and fully automate supply chain activities from the order through distribution and shipment by giving them more visibility, control, and efficiency. In addition, using automated warehouse management systems, managers can organize and automate everyday tasks throughout the warehouse, maintain and find inventory, control staff activities, and design specialized workflows. The automated warehouse management system is a vital set of back-office tools for businesses of all sizes due to its many benefits.

A company can reduce labor-intensive tasks that require repeated physical labor, manual data entry, and analysis as part of such an automation initiative. For instance, a warehouse employee might put large products onto an autonomous mobility robot. The software tracks the movement of the inventory as it is moved by the robot from one end of the warehouses to the shipment zone, keeping all records up to date. These robots increase this task’s effectiveness, swiftness, dependability, and precision.

How does Automated Warehouse Management System Works?

When you automate your warehouse, cutting-edge hardware technology like robotics and sensors work in concert with sophisticated software tools like warehouse management systems to automate nearly every stage in the warehousing process. You may quickly improve your process by integrating an existing software solution with the automation system. You may always be prepared to meet the market’s expanding needs and give your consumers the finest service possible by automating your warehouses.

Data is essential in every organization. The same holds true for warehouses. You can quickly and most effectively examine data while using an automated system that captures real-time data. Indeed the Automated Warehouse System needs a strong project plan, just like any other business model. There is no single Automated Warehouse Model strategy that works for all beliefs. You’ll need to assess the state of your company and create a strategy in line with that. However, the following items are crucial to remember while implementing a sophisticated automated warehouse model.

Benefits of Automated Warehouse Management System

A fully automated warehouse system has numerous benefits. Compared to more traditional automation solutions like conveyors, which are heavy and fixed in place, modern automated warehouse systems are more adaptable and expandable. During the busiest times of the year, warehouse managers can rent more robots and return them when demand levels down. Additionally, collaborative mobile robots are simpler to implement than conveyor systems because they don’t require infrastructure modifications.

Space Optimization and Reduced Operating Costs

Automated Warehouse management systems analyze the optimum use of floor area depending on the task and material properties to optimize warehouse flow. Furthermore, automated Warehouse management systems do the usage of space and floor layout analysis to decide how space should best be used and gives chances for decreasing waste, including waste of prime floor area and the amount of time needed to locate products. Additionally, this will save possible costs brought on by time-consuming insertion and retrieval, as well as excessive material transportation. A warehouse can save operating costs by choosing the optimal places to keep products as well as supplies or equipment.

Transparency of Inventory

Utilizing an automated warehouse management system will also make accurate, current inventory levels visible. This makes it possible for a business to forecast supply more securely and prevent backorders, both of which increase consumer satisfaction. The visibility at the location is ensured by using WMS automation with scanning, RFID, or other gps location tracking techniques, and non-WMS enabled scenarios, where inventory is misplaced, lost, or misdirected within the warehouse, are reduced. Warehouse management systems collaborate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and planning activities to supply demand to forecasting activities by exchanging detailed data on how particular products are performing. As goods are bought and sold, and information is shared, seasonality and product demand are represented. Planners can therefore use this data to make trustworthy decisions on which items to change for the business to boost sales or reduce losses.

Fewer Operational Errors

Application areas for automated inventory are numerous. Some of them are independent systems, including smartphone applications and fleets of drones with barcode scanners. Some are a component of larger automated warehouse management systems. In any case, improving accuracy and control over storage and goods is the main objective of inventory automation. In fact, this is one of the main benefits of warehouse automation since error-free inventory eventually results in less waste and loss. As a result, warehouse workers are becoming more intellectually involved, happier with their jobs, and inspired to continue developing their abilities.

Effective Labor Utilization

A warehouse management system can more effectively assign exemplary work to the relevant person at the appropriate time by taking into account workers’ skill levels, proximity to one another in the warehouse, the equipment, and the available warehouse tasks. One of AWMS’s major contributions to better labor utilization is the optimization of journey times within the warehouse. The AWMS can direct labor toward tasks with the greatest potential for effect while identifying the worker most suited for each job. The system can effectively create schedules by using labor predictions to assign assignments daily. Items can be scanned as they enter a warehouse and move through it, saving time and accelerating the recording process by removing the need for double-checking.

Materials can be easily traced

Using batch, group, and serial numbering, warehouse management systems make it simple to track down inventory goods. Serial numbers uniquely identify an item, while lot/batch numbers identify the batch in which the materials were produced. Full traceability is made possible by using WMS inventory tracking, as was previously mentioned, which enables the ability to link particular lot/batch or sequential numbers to incoming invoices and exiting shipments. This capability of tracing materials reduces any possible redundancy, permits precise inventory planning and allocation, and offers current retrievable data for either service maintenance or future traceability.

Strengthen Security

The majority of automated warehouse management programmes demand that employees enter transactions using individual user accounts. This process creates an audit trail connecting certain employees to particular transactions, increasing responsibility and reducing the likelihood of fraud and other issues. Businesses can use it to discover new training opportunities and other strategies for improving employee behavior. User-based access levels also shield some reports and analyses from unwanted access. It enables each person to view the data they require for their jobs. You won’t have to be concerned about corporate secrets or compromising your competitive advantage in this way.

IoT Technology

IoT has a big impact on how automation and product distribution are combined. Businesses might not be able to transport and connect objects inside and outside the warehouse without it. The efficiency and smoothness of activities made possible by this technology boost warehouse systems’ efficiency. With the IoT, you can link devices like mobile phones, headphones, and wearables to collect and exchange data. IoT devices have the ability to synchronize, monitor, detect, and receive data. Better inventory control, on-time delivery, warehouse productivity, and other advantages are also evident. With such benefits, it is simple to conclude that IoT-enabled warehouses are successful now that businesses are deploying RFID tags and sensors.

Features of Automated WMS that helps in warehousing operations

Single Point Operation Control

Taking charge of all the various operations and resources within a warehouse is the responsibility of an effective warehouse management system. The warehouse’s activity should be visible from a single control center that is a smart, robust WMS, which may also be used to take any necessary measures. A warehouse management system should be able to link operations, warehouse workers, and any deployed mobile devices and robots. This includes more advanced cross-docking as well as basic actions like rule-based putaway. Additionally, it ought to encourage cooperation among these resources. A contemporary WMS should be able to manage everything, from assigning the proper picker and packing station to overseeing operations performed by sorters and automated mobile robots (AMRs).

Building Management System

Building management systems are essential for controlling various aspects like energy and lighting in large facilities like warehouses. The warehouse’s overall power usage can decrease by 20% when using an efficient building management system. Furthermore, a correctly configured BMS solution’s benefits for managing power usage are greatest for large projects with significant HVAC, electrical, and mechanical systems. By utilizing streamlined, automated technologies that are used in daily operations, BMS can also manage warehouse operations like planning, organizing, staffing, leading, monitoring, and maintaining the warehouse seamlessly.

Real-time Data

Lack of real-time visibility is one of the greatest issues warehouse managers deal with. In fact, almost 71% of the warehouse managers polled said that poor decision-making was largely caused by a lack of timely visibility of activities. Modern warehouses need to continuously and instantly input data from various data points with the help of automated warehouse management systems. Operational activities, quality assurance, hardware and robots, and software integrations like ERPs, shipping management systems, and e-commerce platforms are all included in this. This calls for having current information on all orders, real-time inventory verification, shipment status, and a log of all actions taken in relation to a specific order.

Data Analytics

The best warehouse management solutions offer a wide range of features that help businesses combine business insights from warehouse operations. Real-time tracking has several advantages for businesses, particularly when it comes to managing inventory. You may see your level of inventory in real time so that you always know whether you have too much or too little of a particular item. For KPI analysis, other features can filter the data and indicate areas that need improvement. Monitoring warehouse activity through workflow management in a WMS necessitates additional focus. High-quality data collection helps decision-makers decide whether to change important business practices and set future plans.

Risk Management

Comprehensive planning and risk analysis are essential elements of an efficient development strategy. The evaluation of operational data and the generation of predictions while taking into consideration prospective risks or ongoing disruptions are made possible by modern WMS. The WMS’s demand planning function prevents stockouts, overstocking, and product waste. High-volume or seasonal products might be tracked and given more priority. Complete data visibility and organization allow for a more profound comprehension and forecast of customer behavior and demands.

Financial Management

To make informed, data-driven judgments on future courses of action and improvements, it is essential to track the performance of the business and sales patterns across regions, clients, and products. WMS offers a number of capabilities for monitoring and reporting on many facets of your organization, including: Your most profitable customer, best-selling item, best-performing sales method, more productive staff, and peak business season, among other things, may all be identified using customizable metrics that allow you to assess all data. Time is saved, and operational errors are reduced when revenue, taxes, and the cost of goods sold are automatically calculated using real-time data. If your organization works in various locations, WMS is essential because it gives you the ability to work with different currencies, multiple tax systems, and landed cost control. Another well-liked feature that enables centralized accounting is integration with accounting platforms.

Best Practises of Warehouse Automation

The warehouse now plays a far more important part in the supply chain. Modern warehouses offer essential business services that reduce costs and improve customer experiences. Below given are six best practises for warehouse automation businesses should consider about:

1. Choose an effective automated warehouse management system: Look for an automated warehouse management system that can automate essential functions and manage inventory controls, inventory tracking, monitoring, and reporting on labor expenses. Find out more about the characteristics of WMS and the distinction between warehouse management and inventory management.

2. Invest in Scalable Solutions: Your business should grow along with your technology. The system needs to take into account the addition of future warehouses, personnel, tools, and supply chain alliances like third-party logistics providers or drop shippers.

3. Automate Data Acquisition: Begin with a system that automates the collection of data, transport, and storage regardless of the type and degree of warehouse automation you’re considering in the long run. A low-cost, low-risk road to automation is created by combining cloud-based solutions with portable barcode scanners. This environment will enable you to capture crucial warehouse performance and stock information and store it in a consolidated cloud server for further analysis while also removing human error from the equation.

4. Count cycles continuously: Cycle counts, a crucial component of WMS, monitor inventory levels in comparison to the inventory data record. Once you have automated data gathering systems in place, you can use mobile barcode scanners or RFID sensors to automate continuous cycle counts. Dashboards can then be used to look for inventory irregularities.

5. Optimize data reception: Receiving is where warehouse data collection begins. Therefore, to help guide warehouse workflows, you want a platform that can gather as much information as possible upfront. Determine the dimensions, classifications, and packing of the arriving goods before creating rules in your WMS for how to handle, store, and allocate resources to put them away.

6. Assessment of Warehouse Design: For effectiveness, a variety of physical automation options, including GTP (Goods to Person) and AS/RS (Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems), AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), and sortation systems need specialized warehouse layouts and plenty of space. To make current warehouses and distribution centers more suitable for automation technology, think about redesigning their designs. Work with solution providers, architects, and contractors who are aware of your particular needs. This evaluation should be budgeted for in your implementation plan.

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Conclusion

The development of contemporary warehouse management will be largely dependent on warehouse automation employing inventory tracking and warehouse management technologies. With AWMS, supply chains are made possible by moving goods from one location to another with as little human interaction as possible. By making these investments, businesses will be able to satisfy the increasingly high expectations of their customers. Features of warehouse management systems offer a one-stop shop for all the things a business needs to succeed. It goes without saying that using a WMS can have significant advantages and cost savings because they enhance performance, streamline all warehouse processes, and speeds up operations while lowering mistake rates. As there is no one-size-fits-all WMS solution, take your time looking for it while keeping in mind the particular needs of your WMS system.


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