Ongoing labor shortages, capacity constraints, increasing customer expectations and changing order profiles and volumes have created additional challenges for distribution operations over the last year. As a result, warehouse management system (WMS) providers have been charged with developing new solutions to combat growing supply chain disruptions and complexities. Below are a few new features and capabilities WMS vendors are offering to help distribution operations address these challenges:

Warehouse Execution Systems (WES)
While traditionally offered by material handling automation providers, more WMS vendors are now incorporating WES capabilities within their solutions. Operating between the WMS and warehouse control systems, WES applications help optimize and facilitate order processing and material flow across an automated distribution center.

Labor Planning
Unlike labor management systems (LMS) that track individual employee performance against defined standards, labor planning solutions enable distribution operations to plan labor requirements against workload over time and redirect resources where they are needed the most.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
While traditional WMS solutions typically require human interaction to monitor and manage work, some vendors are now offering AI and ML capabilities that can sense and adapt to changes on the warehouse floor and support autonomous operations with features like waveless order processing and continuous task and allocation optimization.

Automated Material Handling Systems
Some WMS providers are now offering automated material handling systems including autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), smart pick carts and pick-to-light and put-to-light solutions.

A version of this article originally appeared in SupplyChainBrain.

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Tom Singer
Tom Singer

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