How to choose the right WMS in an automation project?

You’re planning to automate your warehouse, but how to choose the right warehouse management system (WMS) to go between the automation and ERP? There are many options as the automation suppliers offer their own WMSs and there are also companies selling WMSs separately.

Analyze the needs of your warehouse

Clarify the future needs of your warehouse

Think about the lifespan phases and needs of your warehouse

Three view points on acquiring a WMS:

1. Analyzing the system to be managed

One of the major factors in the total efficiency of a warehouse is that the various processes of the warehouse function together seamlessly and the combining of material flows from different warehouse areas is controlled, faultless and efficient. Additionally, there is an increasing amount of refining work done in warehouses.

Analyze the steps of your warehouse:

  • List the processes that have to be controlled by the WMS.
  • Sort them into ‘only automation-related’ and ‘other’
  • If the processes are ‘only automation-related’, the WMS of the automation is likely to be the better choice.
  • If there clearly are ‘other’ processes, you might want to read about third-party WMSs. The further material management goes from automation, the better a separate WMS would serve you. Examples are the shelving and picking of a manual warehouse, manual packing and combining, material transfers to production or preparing display/kits.

2. Considering the future of the automation

When large acquisitions are made, it is wise to look beyond the present into the future. What does your automation look like in five years? Do you see yourself needing other warehouse automation solutions in addition to the first automation, such as AGVs or stacker cranes?

If you choose a separate WMS, you won’t be bound to a specific supplier and the possibilities they offer. This way, you can choose the best alternative for your warehouse also in the future. If your strategy is to commit to a single automation supplier, then the WMS offered by the supplier is a good solution.

3. Lifecycle services

Even though a large portion of Finnish companies operate internationally, production and logistics is done in Finnish. Often problem situations are complicated and it is good to receive support in your own language.

Business is continually changing meaning that the chosen systems have to evolve too. In this case, it is easy when the service provider is in the same country and speaks the same language as you.

Choose a partner and system that are continuously evolving. This guarantees the lifespan of the system.

Teollisuus ja sen järjestäminen ovat vaikeita kysymyksiä, konsultoinnista oikea ratkaisu käyttöön

Automation and WMS

When new acquisitions are being considered, it would be best if the automation and WMS acquisitions were not done at the same time. WMS requires that the master data is in order (e.g., product information, purchase and sales orders) and teaches the staff to work under system management. After this, automation implementation is much easier. When the acquisition order is this, it is also easier to control risks.

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