Automation is reshaping the logistics landscape, changing the way goods move from place to place and setting a new expectation amongst consumers for swifter and more customisable delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic saw many retailers turn to ecommerce channels and adopt software and machines with deep learning capabilities in order to boost supply chain resilience in the face of port closures and shifting regulations.
What is warehouse management software (WMS)?
A WMS captures, processes, organises and distributes your data to the correct places to ensure that your systems can work effectively and your supply chain can run smoothly. Although cinema has engrained the belief that robots and machines have a life of their own, ultimately they require instruction and maintenance so it’s important to opt for a WMS that suits your business.
Although considered a more traditional approach to warehouse management, opting for on-premises software carries certain advantages that modern solutions don’t, including offering users direct control of their operations. This level of control allows for greater customisation of your software, meaning you can tailor it to the exact needs of your organisation. However, this comes with a higher level of responsibility including managing upgrades and integrations in-house, as well as overcoming associated challenges as and when they arise. You might require a dedicated team of IT specialists to do this, leading to additional costs and delays in fixing problems in the event of sickness, holidays or other more pressing internal issues.
A cloud-based WMS is a good alternative to more traditional methods of warehouse management, with your cloud provider or “host” taking on most of the responsibility of upkeep and problem solving. You are still in charge, but this option means that the machine is doing most of the work for you. A Service License Agreement (SLA) means that you’ll be covered in the event of a malfunction, and if something does go wrong then the cloud will quickly resolve the problem, saving you time and money. This approach to warehouse management still requires IT staff but is easy to up and downscale because it relies on servers, not people, to run.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
By far the easiest option for warehouse management, software as a service, or “SaaS”, does everything for you. From hardware to maintenance to resolving any issues should they arise, your provider will take on all of the responsibilities of managing your systems. This takes the pressure off your IT department and allows you more time to focus on other issues like customer service. With this option, you can scale on demand and be safe in the knowledge that your software is up-to-date and running as efficiently as possible.
What role does automation play in a WMS?
Automation is useful in situations where there is room for human error, for example repetitive tasks, where safety is concerned, or where fast calculations are needed. Automation works best alongside an effective WMS which is why it’s so important to select the right option for your business.
Although it can be tempting to rush in and automate everything, all at once, introducing it slowly will give you time to monitor and measure its impact to ensure it complements your WMS.
Automation and SaaS go hand-in-hand with each other because they’re both standardised – in other words, they are both designed to make operations more efficient, faster and smooth-running.
How can Sprint Logistics help with warehouse management?
As an experienced and trusted logistics provider, Sprint Logistics can help you to optimise your supply chain with well-functioning and effective warehouse management software. If you’re not sure where to start, or which option is best suited to your business then we can support you in making the most of technology available.