A question we often receive when we talk to different companies is:
Why should we choose a dedicated WMS?
We already invested in an ERP-system. Can't we just build on that?
- And that is a very relevant question to ask.
Yes, it is possible to build in a module to your ERP to handle the logistics. Your ERP supplier will probably recommend it to you as it seems like an easy solution to keep all functionality in the same system. It might also look like an "easier investment", but is it the right solution for you?
That question is just as important.
Especially when considering the consequences it can have down the road.
In this article, we want to show you the difference between an ERP with a module and a dedicated WMS, and why it matters which one you pick for your company.
The typical arguments for the ERP solution
“You get everything in one system"
It seems obvious to keep all functionality in one system and for that reason, many will have a preference for that in the beginning. But there is a series of challenges, that you need to think about first.
- When your ERP-system gets bigger, licensing becomes more expensive.
- It becomes more difficult to maintain your ERP every time you expand it.
- Your options for digitizing your logistics are relatively limited in the ERP.
Many who choose to get a module for the ERP instead of a WMS will at some point experience that they have to ask their ERP supplier to do further development to the ERP module with functionality that's needed to support the logistics.
We are talking about functionality that already exists in a standard dedicated WMS - and this is where the ERP starts to be very expensive for the company.
“You don't have to do troublesome integrations"
It will also seem logical to choose the option that avoids having to do integration between two different systems. But this integration actually provides more advantages than you would think.
First, it's important to state that Axacon WMS has a user face that can be used across all ERP systems when we need to do the integration. We are used to exchanging data between WMS and ERP and we have been through this process countless times. It will not be troublesome for you.
The integration will give the advantage that you get real-time insight into your logistics and it enables you to act fast in a situation where it's needed. We will attempt to further explain it in this article.
3 reasons to choose a dedicated WMS
1) You get a real-time overview to act on
* Figuren viser de grundlæggende forskelle mellem ERP og WMS
The ERP system is made to support the financial side of the business. It does not have made to focus specifically on the warehouse and support the dynamic processes that occur there.
You could say that the ERP-system has more of a backseat approach and is simply collecting information. A dedicated WMS, however, takes the driver seat and actively supports the work in the warehouse by guiding the employees directly in the situations and provide real-time recommendations to the person responsible for the logistics.
It means that a dedicated WMS can help the person responsible for the logistics to get a real-time overview and make the right decisions when needed.
Here is an example:
At the exact moment, an order is placed at a webshop, the WMS receives the information from the ERP and arranges a reservation of the item. WMS knows at all time what has been sold, reserved, picked and sent.
Let's imagine that there are 2 separate orders placed at the webshop of 40 and 70 pallets of the same item, but the stock is only 100 pallets which won't cover both orders. Who gets it first? This is where the WMS can figure out if one of the orders needs to be higher prioritized. One customer might be a VIP-customer that demands day-to-day delivery. If that is the case, then the person responsible for logistics will be notified before the order is picked and will be able to prioritize the order as needed.
This type of real-time information is not something the ERP-system can use actively to prioritize and optimize the way jobs in the warehouse are decided.
If it's important that you can quickly and precisely make a change to an order that's coming through the system, then you will need a dedicated WMS.
2) You can control complex logistics with built-in automation
A dedicated WMS is far more advanced for warehouse management.
It makes it possible for you to control all aspects of both the manual and automated warehouse. For example, you can let the WMS run the processes that involve both employees and robots or storage machines and conveyor belts.
Here is an example:
In a manual warehouse, a storage machine has been installed. It has immediately provided more floor space to the warehouse as it can use the square meters better. After a while, it turns out that the machine isn't being replenished with the correct items. There is no certain procedure for this situation and it's difficult for the staff to figure out exactly what to do about it. This would result in the storage machine only being half full most of the time, and the entire purpose of the machine is lost as it isn't using the floor space very efficiently anymore.
A dedicated WMS can keep track of the stock in the storage machines and assign a replenishment job for the employees when it's needed. This ensures that the storage machine is always full without needing to rely on certain employees' memory or experience.
3) You can create a good working environment
An effective warehouse is not only about systems and technology, but also people and processes. That is one of the biggest advantages of a dedicated WMS.
Axacon's WMS can help create a good working environment in the warehouse by making sure the different employees aren't lifting more than recommended based on their profile. We call this "green lifts".
If you decide to enable this function, here is how it works:
Every employee has a profile in the WMS where you can assign how much this person can lift during a day. When the employee is getting close to the maximum amount he or she is automatically assigned to do tasks that are lighter and the heavier tasks will be assigned to someone who still has plenty of kilograms to work with.
- The ERP system cannot help with that.
A question of "when"
The most important question is not "why" you should choose a dedicated WMS but rather "when".
When will your warehouse processes be so complex that you will need the functions that define a dedicated WMS? - And can you afford to spend time and money on a temporary solution?