Warehouse management systems have become more common than not among manufacturers, retailers, and 3PLs. At least that is the case among the 131 respondents to a recent Warehousing Education and Research Council survey regarding member usage of WMS. Only 32% (plus 1% that did not respond) have yet to implement a WMS. Most of the firms that have a WMS in place report taking an incremental approach to full WMS development. Radio frequency and barcoding/scanners represent the most commonly used hardware elements of these systems, scoring 6.1 and 5.8 respectively on a 7-point scale on which 1 represents “Not implemented at all” and 7 stands for “Fully implemented.” Respondents who have implemented a WMS also report its successful integration with existing information systems, ranking this function as 5.7 on a 7-point scale.
The benefits of WMS use include reduced cycle time, better receiving counts, overall warehousing cost containment, and improved use of space. Twelve percent of WMS users indicate labor hour savings of over 50%, although the majority, 70%, report that they saved less than 25% in labor hours. Those companies that have yet to implement a WMS cite concerns with initial costs and expected payback period as inhibiting factors. Still, 23% of respondents expect their investment in a WMS to yield a return in less than two years, and 66% expect payback in two to five years. Only 11% expect a WMS to take more than five years to pay for itself. For more information, visit www.werc.org.