A WMS uses a database configured to support warehouse operations, containing detail describing a variety of standard warehouse elements including:
Individual stock keeping units (SKUs) that are handled and stored, e.g., weight, dimensions, case pack, automatic ID labels (bar codes, etc.), and inventory by location with manufacture date, lot code, etc. SKUs may include basic materials, fabricated parts, assemblies, and industrial and consumer finished goods, etc.;
Warehouse storage locations, e.g., individual location number, picking sequence, type of use (picking, reserve storage, etc.), type of storage (each, case, pallet), location size or capacity, storage restriction (flammable, hazardous, high value materials, outdoor, etc.), etc.;
Dock doors, e.g., individual number, etc.; and
Expected labor productivity rates by function or activity, e.g., cases picked per man-hour, etc.
Daily management functions include
Planning – finalizing the daily plan for receiving dock activity, selecting the workload/orders to be processed in the day or shift, (this may also be done by the business system), and calculating an estimate of the labor and vehicles required to pick and ship the orders to ensure the staffing is appropriate, and carriers are notified in time to meet the daily requirements.
Organizing – sequencing the orders to be picked. Organizing orders for picking can be accomplished in many ways, meeting the needs of the user. The primary objective is to be intentional, and not to pick the orders in the sequence in which they were received unless the company wants to pay a carrier make sense for transportation and delivery. The initial way of organizing was called Wave Planning or Wave Picking, with two objectives, a. to minimize need for dock staging space, by having orders arrive at the shipping dock in trailer load sequence, and b. to create an order of flow that will support monitoring the progress through the day and eliminate/reduce last minute requests for overtime or delay of carrier departure, etc.
Staffing – assign staff to work functions and areas, by Wave, to minimize staging.
Directing – ensuring the documented processes and procedures are embedded in the WMS and are consistently applied, used and appropriate for the nature of the work and service level intentions of the company (e.g., International Standards Organization 9000 (www.iso.org)). This function may also be used to divide individual orders into logical work units and the ability to assign them to separate individuals for performance, consistent throughput requirements and physical layout, e.g., separating individual case picking from each unit picking, and individual pallet load picking, to improve productivity and supporting Control.
Controlling – providing milestones for management to monitor progress through the day, providing the opportunity to respond to problems in a timely way, and report data for performance analysis.