Even though WMS continues to gain added functionality, the initial core functionality of a WMS has not really changed. The primary purpose of a WMS is to control the movement and storage of materials within an operation and process the associated transactions. Directed picking, directed replenishment, and directed putaway are the key to WMS. The detailed setup and processing within a WMS can vary significantly from one software vendor to another, however the basic logic will use a combination of item, location, quantity, unit of measure, and order information to determine where to stock, where to pick, and in what sequence to perform these operations.
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Slotting describes the activities associated with optimizing product placement in pick locations in a warehouse. There are software packages designed just for slotting, and many WMS packages will also have slotting functionality. Slotting software will generally use item velocity (times picked), cube usage, and minimum pick face dimensions to determine best location. Read my article on .
Some WMS systems provide functionality related to labor reporting and capacity planning. Anyone that has worked in manufacturing should be familiar with this type of logic. Basically, you set up standard labor hours and machine (usually lift trucks) hours per task and set the available labor and machine hours per shift. The WMS system will use this info to determine capacity and load. Manufacturing has been using capacity planning for decades with mixed results. The need to factor in efficiency and utilization to determine rated capacity is an example of the shortcomings of this process. Not that I’m necessarily against capacity planning in warehousing, I just think most operations don’t really need it and can avoid the disappointment of trying to make it work. I am, however, a big advocate of labor tracking for individual productivity measurement. Most WMS maintain enough data to create productivity reporting. Since productivity is measured differently from one operation to another you can assume you will have to do some minor modifications here (usually in the form of ).
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