The Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software application that supports operators in the management of goods handled in a warehouse: from the controls of incoming goods during the acceptance phase, to the management of goods during the storage phase, through the preparation of shipments to customers (or departments), thus keeping track of each item during each phase of the production process and much more.
The WMS facilitates the management of all aspects of a warehouse, whether manual or automated, from the information regarding items to the systems designed to support picking operations, through the tracking of all the goods that are not even stored but pass through the warehouse during the manufacturing process.
Integration of the WMS with other systems and software:
The WMS can be an independent system but provides further added value in warehouse management if installed upstream of the company’s ERP, and integrated with other systems/software both downstream of warehouse operations and in the warehouse itself.
It is paramount for a WMS to interface with the corporate ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) which in contrast is intended for administrative management and therefore for those activities that concern the warehouse from an accounting, tax, and business standpoint. ERPs are essential for proper warehouse management. Thus, it is important to clarify that the Warehouse Management System does not replace the corporate ERP, but is rather integrated into the normal management functions of a company, adapting to the specific needs.
The WMS, in particular, interfaces with the ERP by exchanging information regarding 3 fundamental flows:
- acquires handling requests from the ERP: automatic loading/unloading of goods, supplying production lines with the necessary material
- sends the ERP the results of the handling that was requested and performed
- updates the shared information: data, stock, inventory, alignment of provisions.
The WCS (Warehouse Control System) is the software that controls all the warehouse operating systems (conveyor, sorter, AS/RS, picking systems, etc.) and ensures the correct performance of all operational activities.
It is connected upstream of the WMS and their integration enables the exchange of information which is essential for the daily operations of the warehouse.
Modula WMS: How to best integrate automatic vertical storage systems
The Modula WMS system was designed to be connected to any ERP simply and quickly thanks to solid exchange protocols.
Modula is integrated with the company’s ERP by means of layouts provided for the creation of standard interfaces, for example with ASCII, ODBC, XML and Webservices protocols.
Modula’s WMS is also able to manage all orders and direct requests to the manual warehouse, to Modula, or to both.
In the case of a warehouse operated manually, the WMS transfers the order page to be assigned to the RF terminal and the terminal becomes associated with that order. The terminal receives all the information for the picking through the respective control, so that the picking operation can be easily executed.
The box assigned to the order number is then tracked in the different areas of the warehouse.
In contrast, if the order is sent to the automatic picking areas, Modula will make the correct tray available at the bay for the quick and easy picking of the item; the Copilot console replaces the RF terminal and signals the next activity to the operator.
With a dedicated Modula system, requests are handled just in time: the loading or unloading handling operations are requested to the WMS by the ERP, the WMS transfers the request to the Modula system which brings the required tray to the bay making the goods available to the operator.
The Modula WMS solutions, if the company does not have a WMS yet, are the following:
- MODULA WMS Base: a basic solution that allows the management of 3 workstations (including 1 server) and the management of everything related to the warehouse database, goods handling and location in the automatic storage system, inventory and user management with the ability to access only specific items and trays based on the user’s role in the handling chain.
- MODULA WMS Premium: compared to the Base solution, this WMS offers many advanced features, including production batch management, FIFO, dynamic location management, statistical analysis, and customized reports.
In addition, Premium WMS also offers optional packages such as advanced picking, advanced warehouse database, manual warehouse management, as well as radio frequency terminals.
Advantages of the integration of WMS, ERP and automatic storage systems
Integrating your warehouse with the company’s ERP and a WMS facilitates the optimized management of all resources and consequently results in greater customer satisfaction. Below is a brief summary of the most significant advantages:
With the integration of Modula automatic storage systems, the WMS, and the company’s ERP it is possible to optimize the sending, receiving and picking of orders. The order list is managed on the company’s ERP. Once the order is entered, it is transferred to the WMS and becomes a picking order. If there is a Modula automatic vertical storage system with trays, the system identifies the tray and sends it to the picking bay. In this way the goods are already available to the operator, who simply picks them up without wasting time searching.
Among the advantages of introducing a WMS is the reduction of paper supports as the picking listsare displayed directly on the terminal with no need for printing. This, together with the ability to know the exact location of each item at all times, limits the reliance on the operators’ memory and therefore reduces errors related to warehouse inventory, inventory management, and preparation of orders.
By interfacing Modula WMS with the company’s ERP, the Modula automatic storage system receives the picking list directly, so that the time needed by the operator to prepare the order is reduced to a minimum. Furthermore, given the almost automatic tracking of the picking, it is possible to have updated real-time statistics on the stock at any time, because the Modula WMS sends the updated data to the ERP, guaranteeing continuity in the inventory of the goods.
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