So, you're thinking of changing your ERP system? Wow, that's a big step, however it could radically improve your business and streamline your operation.
But what about the propeller of your business, the warehouse? Driven by the engine room of your ERP, the warehouse is the part of your business that actually delivers product to your customers, and if that part in not working properly its game over!
A well engineered and properly implemented ERP is a thing of beauty. However, all too often finance people within the business lavish all their attention (and budget) on guaranteeing that management information and financial reporting are paramount, and ignore operational capabilities.
Today, modern warehouses are totally different and have moved far beyond the paper based and manual systems that were used by some businesses even only 10 years ago.
The heart of the modern WMS is a rugged, WiFi enabled, barcode driven data terminal directly connected to the WMS, giving information and instructions to the worker, while ensuring that transactions are fast and accurate.
Warehouse management today is about flow and control, balancing the need to allow the flow of goods in and out of the warehouse, with the need to ensure that proper control is exercised over the put away, picking and despatch processes.
Too much or unnecessary control can slow important processes which can lead to dramatic knock on effects to later WMS transactions.
For example, when goods are being received from a supplier, a modern warehouse management system (WMS) will already be aware that goods are due and will be able to recognise that some products need to be quality control checked, while other items can be immediately put away.
The QC process is important but it need not hinder work-flow. A modern WMS can recognise that the item needs QC, but still put it away in the correct location, according to its need (could be chilled or need a special location) then it's marked as "awaiting QC" and NOT added to available stock, therefore it cannot be picked or moved. Finally the QC request is added to the list of "waiting for QC" items list and the QC worker is directed to the correct location using a modern industrial terminal or pad, that uses barcodes to enforce accuracy. The worker checks the items, or takes samples for analysis and if the QC test is passed, releases the items electronically to available stock. The product is already in location so there is nothing else to do. Time saved and productivity improved.
The old method was to place goods received into a QC or quality control
area, where inspectors could (eventually) do the QC test and mark the
goods are available for put away. This requires more time and another put away task before the goods are taken to their final stock location.
Many ERP systems have built in "stock management" but for slick and sophisticated
management of the warehouse, you just can't beat a dedicated WMS that gives the warehouse and logistics teams the very latest thinking in warehouse management and the right mobile tools to keep the products and orders flowing to your customers.
So, the real answer to the question "ERP or WMS, which is more important?" is that each is equally as important as the other, but the two MUST work in harmony to achieve the business benefits that each has promised.
If you would like to discover more about the latest ideas for "smart" warehouse management or see how giving your worker mobile access to your business systems could be of benefit, come and talk to the experts here at Barcode-IT.
by David Parkinson - partner at Dash Computer
Products, who specialises in barcode driven WMS, hand held and
fork truck mounted computers and data capture solutions.
contact David on 01200 441977 or email here: Sales@Dash Computer