Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) vary in their precise functionality, but will typically manage a number of supply chain operations within the warehouse, with the objective of boosting productivity, reducing costs, shortening order fulfilment times and increasing customer satisfaction. Balloon One has defined three distinct tiers of classification for WMS software applications
WMS functionality covers all warehouse tasks, from receiving, putaway and inventory control, through to order picking, packing and shipping. With sophisticated metrics, WMS solutions also aid planning and financial management in the warehouse
WMS applications often incorporate additional components, such as voice-directed picking, handheld radio frequency devices for bar code and RFID tag scanning, parcel manifesting, light manufacturing and kitting, and third-party logistics (3PL) fulfilment and billing
The variety of available functionality means that WMS applications differ widely, and also span a wide cost range. As such, a three-tier classification goes a long way in helping companies when it comes to researching solutions and finding the best match for their warehouse operation.
What are the three WMS tiers?
The three tiers Balloon One has defined are: Core, Intermediate and Advanced.
Functionality found in WMS applications defined as Core covers receiving putaway, storage stock counts, picking, packing and shipping.
They typically cost £20-£80k and take 6-12 weeks to implement.
It is either a standalone, basic WMS programme, or is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that has WMS capabilities. Simple operations based around the core functions are available, but often describes a paper-led warehouse. A basic WMS system may include additional functionality, including directed putaway or stock counting, and they suited to single site operations and smaller businesses, such as shops and startups.
An Intermediate WMS covers the same functionality found in Core systems, but also has some advanced, configurable functionality.
Intermediate systems cost around £50-£250k and project implementations last from three to six months.
Suitable for small and medium businesses, they are more likely to be paperless, using scanner systems, and have more complex, configurable processes. They support multi-warehouse businesses, employ greater automation and integrate with ERP, transport management (TMS), carrier, voice and performance-based logistics (PBL) systems
At the top level of warehouse management functionality, Advanced WMS systems are – out of the box – able to deliver comprehensive functionality to any business operating a warehouse.
It’s usual for them to cost in excess of £500k and to take two years or more to implement.
These enterprise-grade systems include the most advanced functionality and can be multi-site and global installations. They provide a complete integration of the supply chain and fully automate warehouse operations.
In which WMS classifications does Balloon One offer solutions?
Balloon One is a leading UK WMS provider and as such offers solutions that meet all three classifications.
Core tier: ERP Solutions
Both SAP Business One’s inventory module and NetSuite WMS Lite offer basic warehouse management functionality.
The SAP Business One inventory module is a stock control management system that is designed to more efficiently manage stock and to integrate a company’s supply chain more effectively. With basic bin rules, it is suitable for small businesses that have a low warehouse throughput. Scanning is available with an add-on.
NetSuite WMS Lite is a cloud-based system with basic WMS functionality. It has limited direct putaway, a limited stock take function and barcoding.
Intermediate tier: HighJump Warehouse Edge
At the Intermediate tier, HighJump Warehouse Edge offers the perfect solution.
It is configurable around complex business needs and based on best practice warehouse procedure. It integrates with various ERP systems – including SAP Business One, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Acumatica and more – and with carrier systems, including Balloon’s own Springboard Hub Carrier Integration Suite.
It enables a basic level of warehouse automation and it is possible to use it to employ advanced WMS processes.
Advanced tier: HighJump Warehouse Advantage
In the Advanced tier, Balloon recommends HighJump Warehouse Advantage for enterprise customers. Whilst offering all the functionality of an advanced WMS, HighJump Advantage customers also offers a market-leading adaptability and configuration environment.
Inherently customisable, Warehouse Advantage’s functionality includes tool kit installation, resource management and yard management, and employs advanced automation and manufacturing.
Its architecture includes built-in adaptability and configurability tools that allow for customer-specific modifications to be made that don’t affect the underlying source code, protecting a business when it comes to future upgrades.
For more information on the two HighJump WMS products, please download the Korber WMS brochure.