Warehouse management systems allow products to be tracked and moved with unmatched speed, efficiency, and transparency. These specialized software suites are designed to manage complex tasks along the supply chain, especially tracking product as it enters and exits warehouses.
3PL companies often have an easier time moving product than they do warehousing it. That’s chiefly due to additional logistics concerns that come along with warehousing. For many of these companies, advances in warehouse management systems are helping make the job easier, allowing them to expand their offerings and do more for clients.
That’s great news for 3PL companies, but what if you’re a BCO or shipper looking to move and store product from port to warehouse with no hassles? Knowing about advances in WMS tech can give you insight into your 3PL company’s operations. How well they keep up with the latest trends could say a lot about how well they can handle big logistics projects.
Or perhaps you need a 3PL warehouse management partner to help manage your own warehousing and logistics. Maybe you’ve experienced an uptick in inaccurate inventory numbers or slow-to-process invoices. Maybe you’ve outgrown your legacy system and want to incorporate some new mobile tech to streamline your processes. Maybe you just want to pick, pack, and ship faster.
No matter which of these scenarios describes you, there’s a warehouse management system for your needs. Here’s what WMS systems can do for you:
For 3PL providers, transparency into day-to-day product movements allows for increased accountability in operations. Real-time visibility allows managers to pinpoint where product is in the fulfillment flow from anywhere in the world and give real answers to clients about status and delivery expectations.
In this way, warehouse management software gives shippers and BCOs better visibility into what their 3PL company is up to. This creates a sense of transparency that is immensely valuable to client success. For companies who operate warehouses overseas, tracking daily activity on site can be difficult. Historically, BCOs had to simply trust that everything was going according to plan — which means when things weren’t going well, they only knew when it hit the fan. Today, you can log on from anywhere and see your product moving in real time.
Warehouse management systems allow users to get a high-level view of product flows as they move in real time. This kind of view-from-above data collection allows logistics pros to plan for product movements several steps ahead of what’s currently happening on the work floor. From planning equipment and labor distribution to prioritizing product placement to scheduling shipping and receiving, warehouse management systems help shave valuable minutes from the fundamental processes in warehousing.
Concurrent Client Logistics
Tracking concurrent logistics movements is immensely complex when you have multiple clients operating in the same warehouse or warehouse network. You want a WMS that can locate and plan for multiple vendors’ or clients’ worth of product with ease. Smart tracking enables more economical warehouse usage, which means more product can be stored for less.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for the latest WMS software products is IoT enablement. Internet of things devices are increasingly being used to track product in motion. These devices are connected to centralized cloud databases, which enhances the mobility of workers in your warehouse by untethering them from cords or stations when moving and tracking product. They also enables data to be accessed and analyzed from anywhere you do business.
IoT devices are often touted as one of the key innovations that will change the way logistics and fulfillment operate in the decade to come. When shopping for a new WMS or looking for a new 3PL partner, IoT enablement is a big element to look out for.
What happens to all that data that your IoT devices collect? New advanced warehouse management systems allow operators to leverage it and gain valuable insights into reordering patterns, better pick and pack practices, shipping pathways, and ways to plan for weather, traffic, and spikes in demand.
Big data is set to revolutionize the way the industry works in the years to come, giving logistics pros the tools they need to improve efficiency with incredible detail.
Smart data also facilitates easier billing. Rather than having to invoice from reams of spreadsheet transactions and data, WMS solutions calculate and produce invoices instantly. For BCOs and shippers, that means getting your invoices resolved in a timely and organized manner.
Warehouse management system software is typically highly customizable to suit your company’s needs. Most systems designed for 3PL organizations are bespoke, built specifically for the company and the role it plays in the supply chain. Many other systems are designed to connect legacy warehouse softwares currently in operation to collect valuable data and streamline processes.
Ask your 3PL provider about the WMS they’re currently using. Looking to choose one of your own? Check out this helpful 3PL Warehouse Management Software Checklist from GlobeCon partner Camelot Software.