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What Is a Warehouse Management System?

Warehouse management systems run machine learning software to maintain a warehouse or distribution center (or a fleet of them). Any industry can use these systems.


Why Is It Important to Have a Warehouse Management System?

A good warehouse or distribution center management system accelerates the entire inventory management and shipping process. The warehouse receives inventory, records it accurately, stores it for easy retrieval, and prepares for deliveries. The management system also ensures safe storage of inventory in the case of hazardous or flammable items.

Warehouse management systems also track productivity and integrate with other business software so that all processes run smoothly.

What Internal Data Should I Have for a Good Warehouse Management System?

In addition to inventory data (SKUs, RFIDs, etc.), a good WMS also needs the following: warehouse location and type, employee numbers and productivity rates, and customer orders. Also useful are historical transaction and promotional campaign data.

What External Data Is Essential for a Good System?

To run an effective WMS, businesses need delivery location and road quality data. Season data or calendar data is also useful, to prepare for holiday or seasonal shopping trends.

What External Data May Prove Useful for a Good System?

Useful external data includes ERP (enterprise resource planning) and TMS (transportation management system) software. Warehouse management software may be included as part of a larger company ERP software, but if not, it would be good to integrate the WMS with the invoice, order, and inventory management systems of the company.

What Are the Main Challenges of this Use Case?

One of the greatest challenges of this case is scale: while there are many options to purchase WMS if a business cannot build one custom, these software solutions do not always grow with the company as it does. As well, continuously changing software systems is costly and increases the likelihood of employee error in using it.

Another issue is customer expectations of near-immediate delivery and exceptional service. While WMS software makes delivery as fast as possible, they leave no room for errors or unexpected problems like stolen packages; industry giants can issue full refunds or send replacement items, but small businesses cannot always eat the cost.

Finally, the industry is moving toward replacing human employees with robots. While large companies work to make the process of integrating robots—especially different kinds of robots—into one software system, it remains difficult and very time-consuming.

Interesting Case Studies and Blogs to Look Into

TechTarget: warehouse management system (WMS)
Tecsys: Aetrex Case Study

Tangible Examples of Impact

DHL Supply Chain and Blue Yonder Inc. over the past year have been collaborating on Robotics Hub, a software platform designed to more quickly integrate robotics systems into warehouse operations.

The platform is currently online at one location near Madrid, where it has already reduced integration time for new robot systems by 60%, said Markus Voss, DHL Supply Chain’s global chief information officer and chief operating officer.

The Wall Street Journal: DHL’s Warehouse Management Business Makes It Easier to Onboard Robots

Relevant datasets

IBM MarketScan Research Databases

by ibm-the-weather-company

IBM MarketScan Research Databases provides one of the oldest continually-updated collection of health claims data in the USA. Organizations use this data to prove their value to healthcare professionals, insurers, and private individuals.

The data includes drug claims, dental claims, lab results, hospital discharges, and EMR data for millions of people in the country. It also contains workplace productivity data, telling institutions how many workplaces absences they suffer and how many of their healthcare workers suffer disability due to their work. 

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EcoSteer Data Security and Interoperability (Ecofeeder)

by ecosteer

Data Security and Interoperability services provided by EcoSteer work to provide shareable data streams for businesses.

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DTB Logistics Management Information

by dtb logo

Logistics Management Information systems provided by DTB are used to create data frameworks for businesses.

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Track Star GPS Fleet Management Solutions

by track-star-gps

Track Star GPS Fleet Management Solutions is a world leader in GPS-enabled vehicle tracking and fleet management. They offer mobile, web-based, and other fleet management software as well as a range of FMCSA-certified ELD and HOS products, including dash cams.

Their devices work with a range of existing software programs and offer real-time tracking with notification, diagnostic, driver behavior tracking, and many more features.

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