During the rest of this year, businesses will face many challenges getting back on track. WMS technology will help smooth the path.
Early January there was clear signs that the Economy was showing an improvement in global business activity, with rising orders and output levels. However, the Coronavirus has put a large spanner in the works and put an abrupt end to that optimism. Economists are now downgrading their growth forecasts and thanks to the threat of this virus, 2020 could become the toughest trading year since 2009, the height of the last global financial crisis. WMS technology will be key to truly understanding and maintaining your stock levels.
Recent data from the US and UK shows there has been a surge in online shopping with supermarket delivery slots reaching capacity. This coupled with the panic buying that is increasing daily and supply chain issues due to so many goods coming from China and other countries on lockdown, means careful warehouse management is core to survival during this challenging times.
In order to survive, businesses must not be thrown into panic by this unexpected disruptive force but to keep calm, plan and adapt accordingly. It’s at times like this where cloud-based WMS, such as Clarus WMS, comes into its own.
Retailers also believe that their businesses will be permanently changed, with the need to switch suppliers, invest in automation, bolster online operations and identify risk mitigation strategies. They are also seriously concerned about the impact on consumer confidence. A separate survey showed that 39% of consumers are worried about product shortages as a result of the coronavirus, which has led to almost one in 10 consumers (9%) to stockpile. We have all seen the photos circulating of empty shelves of pasta and toilet paper in the supermarkets.
For warehouse management, maintaining an efficient warehouse is critical. Two key aspects that will be challenging and which can be eased using a WMS (warehouse management system) are: 1) having key personnel off sick; and 2) having to stockpile stocks and raw ingredients.
Here’s how WMS technology can help you mamimise your stock efficiency:
WMS technology helps manage the loss of knowledge if key warehouse personnel are off sick When someone key to the daily operation of a warehouse is off sick, like a shift supervisor or pick team leader, it can create a void. In many warehouses, especially those run with paper-based systems, processes and workflows can be overly complex.
After a WMS has been implemented, with structured processes backed up by technology to take care of decision making, the impact on business as usual is much lower if a key person is off sick and unable to work. By using a WMS, work schedules are systemised and optimised according to the day’s sales orders. There is no longer a reliance on a particular employees’ knowledge of how the warehouse functions.
This is especially relevant for warehouses that have seasonal peaks, for instance with Easter on the horizon and spring bank holidays. These calendar events can create intense resourcing pressures and by using WMS technology, companies can begin to ‘smooth out’ the impacts of extra busy demand peaks.
A WMS helps maintain efficiency in an extra full and busy warehouse. Many warehouses are having to stockpile as part of Coronavirus contingency planning. Using a WMS to control all aspects of warehouse operations – from the moment inventory arrives to when finished goods are shipped to customers – will help improve efficiency in these circumstances.
Key ways WMS technology will maintain efficiency and reduce the pressure of stockpiling in your warehouse:
Putaway management and location assignments
A WMS automates putaway by identifying the best place to store items based on available spaces, monitoring how frequently the items will be picked and where they should be placed in the warehouse and whether items need special storage considerations.
Pick route optimisation and planning
After evaluating the day’s order pool and assigning tasks, a WMS automatically evaluates the routes available and will direct operatives to fulfil pick instructions using the most efficient travel path for their immediate location. Goods are picked more quickly using fewer resources – perfect if you are a few operatives down.
Shelf life management and stock rotation
Using a WMS to optimise stock rotation ensures that items with a limited shelf life – raw materials and packaging – are carefully managed to avoid wastage. A WMS makes this easy by following first in first out principles.
Perpetual inventory (PI) stock counting
Cyclical counting is the most effective way to maintain inventory and also ensures business as usual whilst stock counting is in progress. Shrinkage is also minimised as all stock movements are accurately recorded with an electronic audit trail.
Using WMS technology, it’s possible to create reports detailing lot/batch/expiry date information that conform to compliance requirements and conduct detailed trend analysis. A WMS provides a full record of what has happened to stock during its entire lifecycle across the entire supply chain, right down to the source and provenance of the original raw ingredients at the SKU, UPC and lot level.
A modern cloud based system can offer the functionality to a small business that needs wms technology without big upfront costs and long timescales. With effective handling procedures and advanced multi-location control, you’ll know how much stock you have and where to find it. You’ll be able to optimise storage space, increase pick efficiency and achieve near total despatch accuracy. A product that’s intuitive and easy to learn will need minimal time to commission, but once up and running it will deliver benefits which transform the efficiency of your business.
No matter the size of your business, WMS technology is always going to be a smart choice, especially with hard times set to continue over the next year when the industry fights to get back on track from the fallout of the effects the coronavirus has had on the supply chain.
While your WMS might entail a small startup cost, it will save you money as your business grows more efficient and productive. If you get a WMS that includes a mobile app, you won’t even need to worry about your system getting outdated, because the app will provide automatic updates.
The one thing you will want to keep in mind when shopping for a warehouse management system for your small business, though, is finding one that will grow with your business. After all, if your business becomes more efficient and productive, you’ll likely need to expand in the future.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.