Trends in Warehouse Management in 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Warehouse operations management (warehousing or distribution) are in constant need of tools that can help address productivity issues, challenged by the demands of electronic commerce and compliance with multiple channels, smaller orders, terms of shrinking delivery and a shortage of labor.

With automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies that make their way into the world’s distribution facilities, the Warehouse Management System (WMS) is one of the strong points long it served as a cornerstone for most distribution operations.

This system provides inventory visibility, manages supply chain operations and integrates transportation management systems (TMS) and other solutions to help expedite the movement of products from the manufacturer to the warehouse and the retailer, or eventually to the end customer. And because it collects valuable information on the way, WMS also provides analysis of actionable data that companies can use to make good decisions.

Here we share key trends that dominate the landscape of warehouse management. This is what logistics operations can expect this year:

1) Systems using machine learning to detect and adapt

Although systems like WMS have existed for more than a decade, that has not stopped the creation of new and useful software capabilities to meet current customer needs, more algorithms to WMS capabilities are being added.

2) Systems that can bring order breaking

More and more companies are turning to warehouse control systems and automation to help support these activities. These systems enable companies to bring urgent orders through another process.

3) WMS providers who work with their OEM to “democratize” automation

Cloud computing may have completely changed the way companies buy most of their software, from purchasing licenses at the facility until subscription fees. Dispatchers trying to automate, or who are investing in robotics, self-guided vehicles and other technology are working with suppliers to find creative financing options.

For example, now there is the idea that the assets can be “rented” instead of buying or leasing them. In other cases, WMS vendors selling systems are now working more closely with its OEM to help make it more affordable for a wide range of customers.

4) A strong focus on the user interface WMS

Logistics managers do not have time to examine a lot of data to find what they are looking for. They not want to waste time determining what information is “actionable”.

To help WMS providers are focusing on their user interfaces and are devising ways to present data in a more logical format for users. The goal is to make the systems more attractive and easy to use, and in particular in a same-day shipping environment, where a field service technician or retail sales employee can use the system with literally zero training.

5) Better management of return to inventory

Today’s consumer has no tolerance for late, missing and incorrect orders. They not think twice about returning merchandise purchased online and request a replacement (or refund), even if the item is still perfectly salable. These “new realities” have had a considerable impact on the distribution environment and are putting pressure on technology providers to add better precision management capabilities to their systems.

That’s where WMS intervenes to help since WMS is primarily an inventory system. So, while these systems certainly help companies choose, pack and organize, they are also inventory systems. As the items are returned, the senders must be able to return those goods to the inventory. The WMS must also be able to handle that task.

At DICEX we know that the implementation of the WMS makes the processes better, faster and simpler. While not all companies have adopted it, it is a matter of time for it to be everywhere since the investment justifies with the various savings in time, training, processes, among other things. Companies must move forward hand in hand with technology and leave the fear of change; this is the key to continue in the market with healthy margins and success.