WMS may very well be the missing piece in your ERP

For many batch process manufacturers, inventory is the core of their day-to-day operations, and for manufacturers in the competitive food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical industries, the struggle for accurate, real-time inventory is ongoing. To keep a competitive edge, many have improved processes, productivity, and profitability by using enhanced barcoding and Warehouse Management System (WMS) to record and share important inventory data. Warehouse management functionality can easily be integrated within an existing ERP solution to help process manufacturers better manage raw materials, ingredients, and product inventories.

ERP for batch process manufacturers provides a single-source business management system that can integrate siloed departments, accumulate and maintain data in a centralized database, and make visible in real-time the entire process manufacturing operation. ERP can also manage and simplify critical data for analysis, reporting, and evaluation with an integrated business intelligence (BI) suite. Increasingly, small-to-medium sized manufacturing companies are investing in ERP because of its functionalities, including WMS, to offer them a competitive edge.

warehouse data can be collected and made available in the ERP system for immediate action and decision-making at the front-end of the production cycle, thus reducing costly delays.

The use of a barcode as a scannable identification for objects (products, supplies, raw materials) has been available for almost 50 years, becoming more useful and affordable over time, and more popular as process manufacturers incorporate WMS into their business’ ERP. WMS is a vital part of any supply chain that entails the receipt, storage, and movement of goods in a warehouse. WMS utilizes wireless technology to capture inventory data in real-time through the use of handheld barcode scanners and supporting infrastructure to monitor the flow of material and transactions in shipping, receiving, and picking of raw and finished goods.

ERP with an integrated WMS module provides a process manufacturer with the following benefits:

Reduce manual processes & dual data entry

It is inefficient to track inventory manually. Not only is the process open to human error, it consumes valuable employee time for which the company will also pay in wages. Often the manual inventory process can disrupt the speed of production, resulting in additional costs in time and money as well. Accuracy and timeliness are key. For example, a forklift driver in the warehouse can transact the inventory on a pallet via scan, completing the transaction immediately, rather than handing off the data to other production staff to key. This eliminates the dual entry and out-of-sync inventory of the current manual processes. In addition, warehouse data can be collected and made available in the ERP system for immediate action and decision-making at the front-end of the production cycle, thus reducing costly delays.

Recommended reading: 7 steps to selecting process manufacturing ERP

Reduce inventory deviation

Are you aware of your current inventory deviation from actual inventory on hand? Many process manufacturers will be surprised to find out that, due to inaccurate data entry, they are experiencing an inventory deviation upwards of 20 percent. Imagine your company carries six million dollars’ worth of inventory, and at year end, your perceived one million dollars in profit is actually reduced by a 25 percent inventory deviation. That’s a humbling realization when preparing to report to the owners or top executives of the company.

Many process manufacturers will be surprised to find out that, due to inaccurate data entry, they are experiencing an inventory deviation upwards of 20 percent.

Operator errors in manual inventory methods cause immeasurable bottom-line consequences to a process manufacturer every day. Whether it be improper use of inventory resulting in a rejected batch, shipping errors, or transposed lot information resulting in inaccurate paperwork, reducing and/or eliminating these errors are literally in the palm of your hand with use of the proper ERP system, integrated barcode scanning, and WMS. WMS inventory data is stored, collected, and disseminated through one centralized database within the ERP solution creating accurate inventory levels and reducing deviations. The real-time availability of the data also provides a more accurate picture of the status of ingredients, raw materials, and products in inventory.

Real-time visibility

With ERP and integrated WMS inventory levels are updated and monitored with real-time accuracy, providing insight to inventory usage and planning that is up to date instead of out of date. Imagine having visibility to your Work-In-Process (WIP) information, including physical inventory, pallet tracking, and inventory movement transactions! By having data in real-time, managers are guessing less and planning more, promoting adherence to lean practices and reducing inventory stocking costs and recovery from costly mistakes, protecting your company’s bottom line.

Facilitates better warehouse practices

WMS not only improves productivity and data accuracy through the use of barcoding and hand-held scanners, it also promotes systemized warehouse practices which are required to support the integrity of the scanning environment. By implementing these practices and procedures, new gains are realized in efficiency, planning, and execution throughout the warehouse. This leads to continuous improvement in practices as issues are recognized much sooner and can be dealt with as they occur rather than discussed as an afterthought, increasing the value of the Warehouse Management System to the organization and further shortening the time to return on investment (ROI).

By leveraging WMS functionality with the company’s ERP software solution, a process manufacturer can improve handling of raw materials, ingredients, and product inventories, therefore gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace. WMS saves process manufacturers time, increases data accuracy, facilitates real-time inventory transactions, and creates more effective warehouse practices. All of these benefits help process manufacturers through process improvement, error reduction, better productivity, higher accuracy, and increased profitability.

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Daniel Erickson

About the author…

Daniel has been with ProcessPro since 1999 and has held numerous roles within the company including implementation, account management, product management, and sales. Currently as Director of Product Strategy, Daniel focuses on driving overall market success by ensuring the products meet both current and future market demands. Leveraging his extensive understanding of process manufacturing, the unique business trends of this industry, and information gathered from market analysis, customer feedback, regulatory compliance, and certification requirements to drive product decisions. Connecting the benefits of ProcessPro’s robust ERP solution to batch process manufacturers and helping solve their key business challenges effectively.

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Daniel Erickson

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