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‘Buy cheap, buy twice’

07 March 2018

Snapfulfil managing director Tony Dobson says think carefully about the WMS you specify.

Think back to when you bought your first mobile phone. Its primary (and nearly only) function was making calls. Texting involved pushing numbers several times, and what time of day the provider considered as ‘evening’ was important in your purchasing decision!

Now think about your current phone. You can accomplish complex tasks with just a few taps, and there’s an app for pretty much everything. 

Comparing a basic inventory or stock management system to a best of breed warehouse management systems is similar and, although inventory management systems are often touted as a warehouse management systems, they are two fundamentally different things. 

Introducing barcodes and RF scanning into the warehouse will undoubtedly lower the number of errors associated with paper-based warehouse tasks, however, transitioning from paper to RF-based operations is simply a stepping stone to achieving efficient warehousing operations. 

A true warehouse management system (WMS) performs data collection as a fundamental, base feature, however, its real value lies in driving activity, not recording it.

One important difference between seemingly similar WMS solutions relates to the ability of the system to actively manage the tasks performed in the warehouse, rather than simply make these available to users. Many basic systems allow the user to select and perform tasks, which leads to the work being prioritised based on their personal preference, rather than operational priorities. True best of breed systems streamline RF transactions for users, feeding them interleaved and prioritised work to ensure that every person is performing tasks in the order best suited to success. Add to that a robust, real-time reporting and exception alerting capability and you have a warehouse in which your people are doing the right things at the right time and when an issue does arise, your supervisors and managers are drawn into that transaction for resolution.

Think of a best of breed WMS as the smartphone to a basic inventory management system’s Nokia 3310!

When considering new warehouse technology, don’t just look at the price tag – dig deeper to determine how much money the solution will save you in the long run. 

If all you want is to move from paper to RF, then a basic inventory management system could be a cost-effective option. 

However, relying on the cheapest solution to serve as a temporary bandage for your warehousing pain points is unlikely to give you the efficiency and scalability you need to grow – as the saying goes, ‘buy cheap, buy twice.’

If what you really need is a system which optimises the not only the stock, but also the space and resources in your warehouse, then a best of breed WMS is, by far, the better option.