Ship Out With a WMS

There are many imaginative ways to trim shipping costs: negotiating with carriers, taking advantage of low rates by tweaking container sizes and weights, reducing labor-intensive shipping tasks in the facility, and so on. But it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate your entire operation. Would your shipping process — and container selection, and bar coding, and serial number tracking, and all the rest of it — be better served by investing in a WMS?

Before you panic, consider the facts. Warehouse management systems have never been more affordable. Even the “budget” offerings are often loaded with useful features and functions. And best of all, the Warehousing Education and Research Council has just published the first part of a detailed guide to WMS installation. “Warehouse Management Systems, Phase 1: Assessment and Selection” describes the factors to consider before making this large technology investment. While some of its recommendations may seem obvious (for example, conducting an assessment of current processes in the facility), what lifts this manual out of the ordinary is its consideration of issues that can easily be overlooked. One section suggests creating a document that lists the changes you expect the technology to effect in the daily work life of each user and function. You would set up a matrix listing individual users in the left column and areas across the top. Your warehouse team would check the matrix to see who would be affected by what and how. For example, the new system might require operators, pickers, and shippers to use RF scanners to capture data.

For more information, contact WERC at 1100 Jorie Boulevard, Suite 170, Oak Brook, IL 60523-4413; phone: (630) 990-0001; Web site:

Technology Impact Assessment
User 1 RF/CRT RF RF/Paper RF/CRT Much
User 2 X X RF/Paper RF/CRT Some
User 3 X X RF/Paper RF/CRT Some
User 4 X X RF/Paper X None
User 5 RF/CRT RF X X None Source: WERC

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