A warehouse management system can essentially be described as a system for managing warehouse storage locations and stock. In more common terminology, the Warehouse Management System, or WMS, refers to the control, supervision and optimisation of the complex flows of goods of intralogistics. In addition to basic functions, such as storage bin and quantity management and the control of the flow of goods, the scope of services also covers comprehensive methods for controlling the system or plant status as well as a selection of optimisation strategies.
Creating the relevant difference in the marketplace of the future requires flexible and scalable systems. On-line trading shows us how important automation will be for us in the years to come. Customers require same-day delivery. What I order today, I would like delivered today. This is an enormous challenge for logistics and in particular for IT systems. System boundaries must be overcome and it is essential to have a perspective of the entire logistics chain. All the systems, right from order entry through to delivery, must work perfectly together. From our understanding, this cannot be realised through standard systems, as the requirements of the customers are completely different. It needs flexible and tailor-made software solutions that are perfectly matched to each other. The key elements of this are mobility, integration and automation.
The use of mobile terminals and devices (hand-held scanners, smartwatches, and smartglasses, etc.), allows processes in intralogistics to be optimised. Mobility also means flexibility. This flexibility underscores the ability to incorporate customer-specific requirements into the logistics systems.
The WMS must be embedded or integrated into the customer’s environment and offer absolute transparency. Boundaries have to be eliminated and the different systems merged so that the ERP system and the WMS work together in an ideal manner to generate the best possible customer benefit.
Business processes should be automated in order to reduce the burden on people and lower costs. This is provided, on the one hand, with the aid of mobile terminals (reducing paperwork, etc.) and, on the other, by the application of fully automatic transport systems.
In the future, the WMS will be the hub for all these systems (including ERP systems, mobile terminals, and fully automatic transport systems, etc.). The future challenges for warehouse management systems therefore consist of the coordination of all these systems, the acceptance by the user, the mapping of customer-specific requirements, and the creation of the necessary transparency, so that changes can be responded to as quickly as possible. All of which must strictly be following the principle: “I can only control what I can measure and evaluate.” [Alexander Fehr, MD MIA Systems]