The Benefits of Warehouse Management Software

In its simplest terms warehouse software is an application, often called a warehouse management system, or WMS, that supports the day-to-day operations in a warehouse. Warehouse Management Software solutions enable centralized management of tasks such as tracking inventory levels and stock locations.

It is possible for Management Software systems to operate as standalone applications or to run as one part of a complete Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, system solution.

Before, warehouse software was limited in scope. For the most part, it was simply able to reveal to management where certain stock and products were located within the warehouse. Today, Warehouse Management Software systems are extremely complex and data intensive. In fact, the higher-end systems may include tracking and routing technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, and even voice recognition. Due to this intricacy of operations, the more complete Warehouse Management Software systems often require a knowledgeable IT staff to run them properly. Therefore, initially a system to control movement and storage of materials within a warehouse, the role of Warehouse Management Software gradually evolved to embrace light manufacturing, transportation management, order management, and even complete accounting systems.

The detailed setup and processing within a Management Software system will differ significantly from one software vendor to another. Nevertheless, the basic logic will use a combination of item, location, quantity, unit of measure, and order information to determine where to stock, where to pick, and in what sequence to perform these operations because the goals remain the same. From the very simplest to the most complex of Warehouse Management Software systems, they have all been designed to provide management with the information it needs to efficiently control the movement of materials within a warehouse in a more efficient and effective manner. Thus, a true Warehouse Management Software system plays a key role in the supply chain with the fundamental objective being to be in charge of the materials in a warehouse -how they move along the chain of production, where they move to and when does this movement occur, and where they are stored when the route is finished. Warehouse management, therefore, includes a certain amount of control over the receipt, storage, and movement of goods -almost always finished goods, to intermediate storage locations or to the customer.

Because Warehouse Management takes charge of the progress of products through the warehouse, a second objective is to keep track of all the associated transactions, such as shipping, receiving, put-away, and picking. Directed picking, directed replenishment, and directed put-away are keys to this type of software. The systems also direct and optimize stock put-away based on real-time information about the status of bin utilization. It of necessity involves the physical infrastructure, tracking systems, and communication between product stations. In other words, the reason warehouses need and want good, in-house warehouse management software is to have a set of computerized procedures to handle the receipt of stock and returns into the facility, model and manage the logical representation of the physical storage facilities, manage the stock within the facility, and enable a seamless link to order processing and logistics.

Is Transportation Management Software Beneficial?

When trucking and other shipping companies need to oversee the planning and operation of their vehicles, they use a transportation management system. This subset of supply chain management focuses specifically on transportation operations by helping companies choose the best carrier. In recent years, transportation management software has become the key component within this process because it adds context to the shipper’s transportation data so that the software is aware of various components and better equipped to make good decisions. Organizations that work with logistics shipping companies are able to find software that best meets their needs, which therefore allows these organizations to reduce truckload and less-than-truckload costs.

Before making the mistake of undervaluing transportation management software, an organization should recognize that these resources help improve organizational awareness across the supply chain. Organizations’ supply chain awareness is improved by the technological advancements that have been made with regards to transportation management software provided by logistics shipping companies. Some of those technological advancements are outlined in this article.

Freight Execution

Regardless of modes, shippers are now able to tend to all shipments by using a single system. This not only means that individual apps are not needed to handle specific modes like small parcel, but also means that one system can be used to integrate data with the host system. Transportation management software also makes it possible for information for each mode to be included in the host system in the same format, so that it is easier to work with. One other important aspect that impacts freight execution is the ability to print documentation. Shippers with shipments like less-than-truckload shipments and small parcel labels can print necessary documentation like pallet labels, international documentation, and hazardous materials documentation on-site.

Pre-Audit Measures

When the organization needs to audit its shipping processes, this task is much simpler when an individual can match the information from the freight execution tool to the carrier’s invoice. One simply needs to match up the characteristics of the invoice with the corresponding charges for each shipment to more efficiently complete an audit.

Communication and Visibility Tools

When an execution tool with transportation management software is provided to the shipper’s vendors, the shipper can pre-load it with organizational rules, carriers, and purchase orders. The shipper’s carriers can then use this pre-loaded information to tender shipments, without needing to depend on the carrier to provide the shipper with these crucial details.

Real-Time Monitoring

The above tools can be included in a dashboard that allows the organization to monitor and manage freight activity in real-time. Using their own business rules, the organization is able to ensure proper measurement and management of freight payment and pre-audit details to gain a better understanding of each shipment’s characteristics. This monitoring and analysis is made possible by the information supplied by the transportation management software.

An organization can use supplied metrics to draw its own conclusions about the meaning of events within the supply chain, or can rely on logistics shipping companies to analyze this task for them. Regardless of which route they choose, organizations should recognize that the technological advancements provided by transportation management software helps the organization monitor shipping activity in real-time.

Logistics Software Provides Companies With Freight Optimization

In the manufacturing industry, the discipline of logistics focuses on efficiently moving products from the manufacturer to the buyer. For large manufacturers, logistical operations can represent a large expense, especially when logistical elements are managed separately instead of being integrated into one solution. In an attempt to take the time and guesswork of out executing logistics, many companies totally or partially outsource their freight optimization needs to third parties. A complete outsourcing amounts to hiring a company to move products throughout the entire supply chain, while a partial outsourcing involves letting a third party manage the transportation of goods through the “stages” of the supply chain. However, implementing logistics software is a more cost effective way to achieve freight optimization that offers the same level of quality as a third party logistics provider.

There are several factors that contribute to a manufacturer’s total shipping costs, including warehouse fees, inventory fees and freight carriage fees. To minimize these fees, a manufacturer might choose to ship by air carrier instead of in tandem with freight carriage, significantly reducing warehouse fees by moving the goods from manufacturer to buyer in a matter of hours. However, to save the most money, companies have to examine all three cost areas with an eye toward developing an integrated cost savings solution. In developing such a solution, there are two basic issues that manufacturers must address: finding the right mix of freight carriage, inventory and warehouse services and finding the best price for each one.

Logistics software can help by providing an analysis of service combinations in relation to individual service cost. For small to midsize companies that deliver goods from the assembly line directly to retail outlets, logistics software can offer a basic analysis of routing options and freight rates. But companies that use multiple warehouses and multiple supply chain locations may require more, such as production scheduling analysis that develops manufacturing plans with regard to multiple supply chain locations (i.e. company’s whose products are assembled at more than one location before reaching the retailer).

The basic advantage of logistics software is that offers refined shipping solutions that meet the needs of a variety of manufacturing situations (and does so at a lower cost than hiring a third party logistics provider). For example, some solutions may focus on a particular freight carriage issue, such as analyzing how to increase delivery time by studying construction schedules and highway traffic data, while other solutions may focus on offering an integrated solution for all logistical concerns, including carrier loading, weight distribution, cube optimization and shortest path to destination. Studies show that manufacturer’s who implement logistics software regularly realize a 10 percent decrease in shipping costs after the first year.

Whether your company has its own trucking system or uses a third party, logistics software can help reduce your delivery costs without compromising punctuality, efficiency or freight safety. If you need to simplify your delivery process and reduce your cost of shipping, consulting with a logistics software provider is the best way to arrive at a solution that accomplishes both at the same time.