ERP warehouse management system (WMS) modules follow the distribution process involved with finished goods or materials from delivery into the warehouse for storage through replenishment and picking for shipment to fulfill orders.
"This is where you record actual shipments, keep track of inventory when you ship to fill orders and when you receive new finished goods," said Greg Aimi, a research director at AMR Research who analyzes clients' demand-driven supply networks.
Unlike inventory management, which focuses on moving goods or inventory across the complete supply chain, ERP WMS tracks orders that come into the warehouse through the order management system so they are filled accurately and on time.
"It's where the manufacturing center has pushed the finished goods out into the distribution environment," Aimi said. "In the warehouse you do receiving, you have dock doors on one side where you're receiving and the goods are put on the shelves. Then as orders come in from customers, you have mechanisms by which you pick, pack and then ship out of the warehouse."
All the functions of the warehouse management system are geared toward performing order fulfillment, on time, with the right product, at the lowest possible cost. The principal focus of ERP WMS is inventory accuracy: With a warehouse management system, companies know how much product (of any given SKU) they have at any given time in that facility. Given that inventory accuracy, they can determine how to manage order fulfillment at the most productive means possible.
ERP WMS functions typically include:
- Picking strategies (according to stock, with rules of priority by expiry, location, etc.)
- Physical inventory tracking
- Inventory planning for replenishment
- Stock tracking (arrivals/departures, expiration date, inventories, locations)
- Synchronization and control of the stock in the shop floor
The warehouse management processes provide up-to-date information on inventory so it can be correctly valued. ERP WMS offers return-on-investment (ROI) through manpower savings, space utilization, product turns and customer sales based on efficiency, responsiveness and accuracy.
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About the author: Catherine LaCroix is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. She covers technology used in business, education and healthcare.