Five Reasons Manufacturers Should Invest in (or Change) a WMS/WCS
Are you at risk with outdated warehouse management software?
Manufacturing operations that store component parts—either made in-house or supplied by another facility or vendor—may or may not rely on a warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) to track and control inventory and its movement. Whether your manufacturing operation is considering investing in a new warehouse execution system (WES) that combines WMS/WCS software functionality, or upgrading an existing system, there are a variety of reasons to do so.
Nearly every strategic initiative is undertaken to formulate a plan for growth. A new WMS/WCS may be called for to accommodate a variety of undertakings, including:
The addition of more product lines or SKUs,
Mergers or acquisitions of other companies or brands,
Location of a new production line or product in an older manufacturing plant, or
Retrofitting of an existing facility to support improved processes, updated technology and automation capabilities.
Below are five limitations that might prompt the investment in a new WMS/WCS:
1. Old Age
Perhaps your current IT hardware has aged past the point of being supported by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Outdated IT hardware and software platforms are often a reason for considering a new WMS, because the vendor cannot provide a seamless and cost-effective software upgrade. Often, this results in a level of investment comparable to installing entirely new software.
Likewise, if your operation relies on automated material handling equipment, the controls for those systems are either outdated, the person(s) who support these often custom solutions are retiring or no longer around, and the functional needs may have been surpassed by the capabilities of the latest WCS offerings.
2. New Equipment
While an investment in new automated equipment, AGV's, AMR's promises an increase in productivity and throughput, it's wasted money if the new equipment isn't compatible with an existing WMS or WCS. Although custom code can likely be developed as a patch, the operation won’t be able to fully maximize the benefits of the new equipment due to limitations within the interface in leveraging the overarching management and control software improvements.
3. Business Changes
Change is inevitable, especially in business. Today’s consumers want specific products with customized options delivered as quickly as possible (and for free). If your current software lacks configurable options or modification support to accommodate changing customer demands, variable order profiles, process optimization, faster delivery times, as well as many other challenges, it’s time to change to one that will.
4. Existing ERP Constraints
Many corporations have standardized on specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems—such as SAP, ProAlpha, Infor, Oracle, Netsuite or Microsoft Dynamics—to improve synergies across their operations. While all of these ERPs offer a WMS component, the out-of-the-box offering may not precisely match your manufacturing facility’s ideal inventory management process. Likewise, it may not interface easily with current or planned automation systems. Seek out an experienced WMS/WCS integrator who can leverage your ERP system to ensure your process is optimized within corporate specifications.
5. Non-Integrated Systems
If your automation systems exist in silos and cannot communicate with other systems to facilitate better tracking of inventory and optimization of processes within your facility, it’s time to consider a software and/or controls upgrade. Processes in logistics and production are nowadays considered to be "integrated", but in many companies they are still in fact worlds apart, and only come into contact at the transfer points of materials and goods. This results in non-transparent and cumbersome processes, excessive warehouse and WIP stocks, and time and quality losses. The objective of an efficient production of batch size 1 is far from being achieved. The integrative connection of warehouse management system (WMS), warehouse execution system (WES), and manufacturing execution system (MES) enables a higher level of transparency and efficiently interlinked processes to be achieved. This increases customer satisfaction and reduces tied-up capital.