Nine Reasons Manufacturers Should Invest in (or Change) a WMS/WCS, Part 2

Warehouse_Management_System_viadat_b1_NRIn a previous post, we discussed why technology limitations and/or strategic initiatives might prompt a manufacturing operation to consider investing in a new warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) to track and control inventory and its movement. This second post covers the types of manufacturing process optimization objectives that can be met by an investment in a new or upgraded warehouse execution system (WES) that combines WMS/WCS functionality.

Whether your manufacturing operation stores component parts made in-house, or supplied by another facility or vendor, there are several opportunities for a new WMS/WCS to enhance process optimization. These include:

  1. Manufacturing from Raw Materials. If your current inventory management system is a spreadsheet or an antiquated WMS, it likely cannot adjust easily to track the rapidly expanding amounts of information assigned to each stock keeping unit (SKU) in your production queue. The latest warehouse management software, however, can accommodate all data edits and additions—including format changes to inbound goods, and inventory tracking requirement modifications to batch, quality, lot, version control, serial numbers and other identifiers. Further, raw material information can be automatically captured, manipulated and shared across the supply chain to provide greater detail and better visibility for inventory track-and-trace and management of goods.
  2. Assembly of Component Parts. Operations practicing postponement to meet the desire of consumers for product customization might also look to reduce their work-in-process (WIP) inventory (the number of piece parts and materials awaiting value-added assembly operations) for cost savings. The right WMS/WCS can satisfy both objectives.

For example, when production demands increase, an operation might convert from batch processing to sequential assembly, where partially- to fully-automated solutions would be ideal to support the new process flow. An experienced software provider can configure a flexible inventory and control system that modifies existing processes on the same conveyor and workstation equipment to support goods-to-man inventory retrieval when needed. The software should be able to handle many other aspects of your inventory and process management, enabling cross-facility synergies to provide additional benefits and enhance your operation’s return on investment (ROI).

  1. Just-in-Time (JIT). For operations that source component parts from outside suppliers or different facility locations (or deliver items on a JIT basis), the right WMS/WCS can support a varied—but continuous—process flow, as well as improve inventory accuracy and tracking throughout the supply chain. Simultaneously, having increased access to part data and visibility into material flow supports cost reductions while still ensuring that high-quality finished products are delivered to your customers when needed.
  2. Lean Initiatives. Frequently, the mandate to reduce waste throughout a process—in overproduction, delays, movement of materials and people, inventory, handling and scrap—can best be supported through investments in automation. For manual operations, Lean frequently means more reliance on technology. Yet, to better track inventory and eliminate unnecessary handling steps, disparate automated systems within an operation (and throughout a supply chain) need to communicate. With a properly integrated WMS/WCS, an operation can enhance Lean objectives through:
    • Improved advance ship notice (ASN) receiving
    • Enhanced crossdocking functionality
    • Optimization of people, equipment and processes
    • Establishment of supplier rating and audit programs
    • Better leveraging of data for business process flow optimization and tracking
  3. Current (or Planned) Automation. Operations looking for opportunities to automate a portion of their manufacturing or receiving and shipping processes will maximize the return on their investment only by integrating current or planned automation technologies via an agile WMS/WCS. With the flow of information optimized to manage materials and inventory, as well as for coordination and control of the equipment and personnel handling it, a manufacturing operation can ensure that an investment in automation will meet desired productivity objectives.

Read how compressor manufacturer Kaeser Compressor boosted its global distribution center’s end-to-end processes—with 20% faster receiving, a 40% increase in picks and 50% faster packaging—via a SAP-integrated warehouse management system and warehouse control system or WMS/WCS upgrade. Call one of our software experts at 616.977.3950 to discuss how your manufacturing processes can be optimized with a software solution.

About Nancy Malone

Nancy is responsible for US software sales & IT consulting at the North American headquarters of viastore systems in Grand Rapids, MI. She has over 20 years of experience in specifying, designing, building, implementation, training, sales and marketing of technology solutions for the Supply Chain. Her focus is on helping customer’s apply technology to streamline their business processes, enabling value added solutions through listening, offering solutions and then delivering.

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