SAP BLOG Warehouse Management 101: How can the right software can help?

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22 Ara 2017
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Fulfilment services have been spending a lot on inventory management, where warehouses become pivotal to the entire operation. Entire warehouse management revolves around using the warehouse space, scheduling labor, managing inventories, and even fulfilling orders.

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Source: Logistics industry: warehouse management systems U.S. 2015-2021 | Statista

Management of such activities needs reliable systems, also known as the WMS (Warehouse Management Systems). This is the reason why the majority of businesses leverage WMS for their logistics and order fulfillment needs. Warehouse management is like a music director keeping musicians in sync for perfect harmony.

There are several moving parts, and you need to monitor, track and manage several key aspects of warehouse management that need a reliable solution. This is where warehouse management software can help through intelligent features.

Take an example of a simple operation of storage and retrieval of products according to the orders. A warehouse manager needs to ensure that each product is categorized and easily retrievable for speedy order fulfillment. This is where software can help track every product category, storage, and retrieval without the hassle of keeping manual records.

Similarly, there are several use cases for warehouse management software which we will discuss along with the basic understanding of what warehouse management is?

Let’s start with what warehouse management is!

Warehouse Management 101


Warehouse management is a process of controlling, optimizing, and managing items from the moment it enters the warehouse to the point where sale or delivery is complete. Some of the primary operations at a warehouse are,


  • Receiving- Accepting delivery from manufacturers, identifying and categorizing products.
  • Inventory management- Storage, handling, maintaining, and recording movements of products across the warehouse.
  • Shipping- Identifying the ordered product, sorting, retrieval, and delivery to fulfilment location.



What makes warehouse management so important? Several aspects of logistics and supply chain operations can go wrong if you don’t have effective warehouse management solutions. Take an example of a simple activity like invoicing. According to a report, 3.6% of invoices generated worldwide have errors.

Though this may seem to be a small number, it can be significant for several businesses and delivery management companies. This is why you need an effective software solution that can help mitigate risks due to errors in operations, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.

Now, let’s discuss some of the significant reasons warehouse management software can help your delivery operations.

Warehouse Automation


Warehouse automation can reduce repetitive tasks for rapid delivery of products and improvement in productivity. It helps in lowering the labor-intensive work and repetitive activities that need manual data entry and even transportation of items within the warehouse.

A simple example is tagging and identification of each product that you store in the inventory, which was done manually earlier. With the QR code tagging tool, you can simply punch every data into it and label the product with the code. Then, each time an operator scans the QR code, they get all the information related to that product.

Similarly, there are several use cases for warehouse automation, ranging from the use of robotics to the Internet of Things(IoT) and even RFID technology.

RPAs


With the advent of edge devices and intelligent robots, warehouse management has become far more efficient through process automation due to the Robotic Process Automation or RPA software.

However, the massive challenge of training, scheduling, and operating intelligent bots needs an effective tool for conversational automation. The conversational AI (Artificial Intelligence) focuses on training such bots to communicate with each other to execute different tasks.

IoT


Internet of Things or IoT sensor-based technology improves tracking, monitoring, and logging inventory in the warehouses. One of the critical aspects of warehouse management is how inventory is handled. Here, IoT can help in monitoring the handling of materials.

For example, if you are warehousing medicines like vaccines that need to be below specific temperature conditions all the time, monitoring becomes a challenge. Here, you can leverage desktop virtualization to monitor each item’s temperature across the warehouse remotely.

Virtualization reduces the need for dedicated infrastructure and a system to manage inventory at each location in the warehouse. Here, IoT sensors help capture essential data from the storage regarding the temperature of the stored product and send it to the virtualization systems through the network.

RFID


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses radio waves to help businesses track critical shipments, inventory movement, and more. For example, it can help warehouse management by tracking inventory movement from one location to another.

There are two components in the RFID system: one is the reader, and the other is the receiver. The data exchange occurs through radio waves making it an effective tracking system.

Here, warehouse management software can help you keep track of the inventory movements and generate a KPI scorecard that enables you to monitor productivity. A KPI scorecard is a software tool to monitor different metrics related to your warehousing activities.

Operational Management


While warehouse management benefits from automation, the reliable software solution also enables you to have centralized operations. Centralization of functions in warehousing is quintessential to maintaining efficiency and productivity.

If your operations are scattered, you will have to face collaboration challenges among several teams and synchronization issues of operations. Take an example of invoice generation for orders placed.

Without effective centralization and invoicing features in your software solution, the management of different invoices at the same time from other warehouse locations can be challenging. So, you need to have reliable warehouse management software that offers a centralized dashboard.

Data Management


Warehouse management is all about data as there are several moving parts to the entire operation where large amounts of information get recorded, stored, and exchanged. So, you need a SaaS-based solution that can help you manage the massive amount of data along with operational efficiency.

Data management also needs higher availability and a secure network. This is why cloud-based software can be an excellent option for warehouse management which allows your operations to scale quickly and enable agility.

Conclusion


Warehousing operations can be complex and need proper management to avoid inventory-based issues. In addition, damaged products and misplaced goods due to lack of warehouse management can prove costly for your business.

A reliable warehouse management software can not only help you manage operations more efficiently but also enable the integration of intelligent technologies like RFID, AI, and IoT.

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