Warehouse picking errors can not only lead to operational inefficiencies, they can also cost businesses; the average cost per error is between $50 to $300 dollars or an 11-13% drain on profitability. Looking beyond the cost perspective, picking errors can also cause additional shipping, returns, lost sales, and customer service complaints. To reduce these errors, let’s look at warehouse management systems (WMS) and how they can best assist in the productivity and profitability of your warehouse operations.
Having a well-functioning warehouse management system is vital in supply chain management. A WMS can be put in simple terms as “a software tool that helps manage daily warehouse operations.” It is used to track in and outgoing inventory, picking/packing/shipping, labor management, yard and dock management, warehouse design, and organizing replenishment. Each type of WMS offers unique benefits and features for varying warehouse needs.
The types of WMS that are most universally used are:
- Standalone System: The Standalone System is most appropriate for smaller warehouse operations and includes both warehouse operations and inventory management. Features like barcode scanning, cycle counting, putaway, receiving, and picking/packing/shipping can be completed with a standalone system. One downside to this type of WMS is that it may not be able to integrate with other WMS or software systems.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Module: Global ERP software market size is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.9% between 2021 and 2028. This is the best option for warehouses or businesses looking to grow and enhance their supply chain operations. Not only does it assist with warehouse management, but it can also consolidate operations like accounting, HR, and customer relationship platforms into one system.
- Cloud-Based Platform: Using a cloud-based platform can lessen the need for an organization’s internal IT teams to perform maintenance as this type of WMS is hosted and managed by the WMS vendor or a cloud service provider. This results in fast integration and allows for this type of WMS to be accessed from anywhere with internet connection.
- Supply Chain Module: This type of WMS aids in a holistic management approach of the whole supply chain. Not only does Supply Chain Module provide management of common warehouse management tasks, but it can also feature customer service capabilities, vendor management, transportation management, material handling, inventory control, improved user interface, and customer relationship management.
Using Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to Reduce Warehouse Picking Errors
How WMS can help design warehouse layout: Having a well-designed warehouse space can be instrumental in inventory accessibility, warehouse movement and flow, and cost savings. By using data stored on a WMS you can target items picked most often, seasonal patterns and more, to create the best layout for your warehouse. It can also help review processes so that movements, flow, equipment, and space in your warehouse makes sense and runs efficiently.
How WMS can help with employee accountability and tracking: Human error due to factors like fatigue, disengagement, or physical, emotional, or mental stress can and will happen. Assigning employees an ID will help motivate and hold employees responsible, track errors and offer additional training. WMS workflows can help with accountability and employee tracking throughout the entire process of inventory movement. These systems can monitor progress, send alerts to employees, and allow for review of data to pinpoint when the error occurred.
How WMS can help with wrong items in the wrong locations: As technology continues to evolve in the workplace, WMS has taken the place of paper-based picking and manual management. Accurate labeling, barcode scanners, and warehouse management software tracking can help to curb picking the wrong item or quantity if it is placed in the wrong bin or shelf. Inventory management is also extremely helpful during the picking process as it allows for employees to see stock quantities and make sure they match with what is on the shelf.