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In some industries warehousing and transportation functions have been considered as separate entities a notion that has become
increasingly impractical in todays business climate in which both warehousing and transportation have become streamlined through the use
of automated systems. It is possible, but not necessarily effective, to automate one part of the supply chain without automating the others.
However, when all systems are able to work smoothly together, businesses are seeing the greatest returns on investment and the largest
potential enhancements in their shipping processes. Warehousing and transportation management systems need to communicate
seamlessly with one another for optimal results.

Distribution centers, in some cases, are the least automated part of the supply chain, and therefore have the largest potential for
improvement. In those cases where automation is minimal, it is necessary to provide for both warehouse and transportation systems at the
same time, since one cannot work as effectively as possible without the other in place.

Information sharing increases productivity in any supply chain, so it is absolutely necessary that Warehouse Management Software (WMS)
and Transportation Management Software (TMS) is able to communicate back and forth. When the systems can talk to each other, customer
service is ultimately improved. For example, it becomes much less difficult to find out if, and when, a specific shipment took place or, if it was
delayed, what were the exact reasons. And, there are three aspects of TMS that can be interfaced with WMS route optimization, onboard
computers and delivery automation.

Route optimization is a critical component in some industries. When carriers are delivering perishable goods, for example, route optimization
is of great importance. Route optimization reduces operator wait times for a load at the shipping facility, thus reducing costs. When multiple
trucks are making multiple stops, route optimization can help ensure that they are working most efficiently.

Onboard computers contribute to the integrity of the shipping process by providing data about where the truck stopped and for how long, the
vehicles location, speed, date and time. Delivery/pick-up manifest information can be included as well as any special handling instructions.
The onboard computer can be integrated to communicate with all of a companys other enterprise resource planning systems. In food
distribution systems, for example, it is important to know precisely what the temperature is within the trailer where the shipment resides and
to know when and for how long the trailer door was opened at each stop.

Delivery automation occurs through use of a mounted radio frequency scanner or a hand-held computer that scans product being offloaded
from a truck. The recipient can sign the hand-held computer device to confirm that the appropriate shipment, in the ordered amounts, has
been received. A receipt can be instantly printed and given to the customer. These devices can direct information to the receiving
warehouse, giving advance notice of what merchandise is arriving and how it should be stored. Delivery automation provides order accuracy,
accounts for variances, and most importantly, provides real-time invoicing ensuring that products are loaded as directed and received as

Even industries that have been reluctant to automate their warehouse and transportation functions are being wooed by the control and
effectiveness that integrated TMS and WMS offers.

Warehouse Management Software
Warehouse management systems were originally designed to control movement of inventory within a warehouse and facilitate product
storage. Picking, replenishment and putaway were the chief functions of WMS. That role is rapidly changing, along with evolutions and
refinements in warehousing, to accommodate a variety of other functions like transportation and order management and accounting

WMS, coupled with automated data collection, is likely to increase warehouse accuracy and reduce labor costs, but these types of systems
are fairly costly and it should be determined whether or not the cost will justify itself through increased efficiency before a purchase is made.
In addition, some vendors claim that WMS will reduce inventory and increase storage capacity, but other experts claim that not much
difference can be expected in these measures.

The setup requirements for a WMS can be heavy duty. The system must be programmed to recognize each location and the characteristics
of each item, broken down by categories. Exact weights and dimensions must be provided for each item stocked, whether those are single
items or stored on pallets or in cases or by some other method. Once the physical characteristics of items stocked are determined and
provided to the WMS system, a specific logic for must be generated out of the various combinations of item, order, quantity and location in
order to make the system work. There are numerous permutations of the logic used for determining locations and sequences. For example,
location sequence simply assigns a number to each location. Thus, pickup is sequenced by flow through the warehouse and putaway is
determined by the first location in which a product will fit. Other options are zone logic, which breaks a warehouse down into predesignated
zones; fixed location; random location; first-in-first-out (FIFO); last-in-first-out (LIFO); or fewest locations. Still other methodologies include
reserved locations; nearest location; cube logic; consolidation; and log sequencing. Sometimes, it is best to use a combination of logic
methods, or to change the logic method based on the workload to optimize different productivity functions.

Picking logic may be the most important factor in some operations. Wave picking is an option, as are batch picking, and zone picking. Task
interleaving, which mixes picking a putaway tasks, may be appropriate for some operations.

Most WMS work best in conjunction with automated data collection systems, which also vary in type and capacity. Data collection may be
facilitated through bar code scanners and use of bar codes. In some cases, radio frequency identification is most workable, but cost is a
consideration. Other technologies for data collection include voice systems or light-directed systems. When installing a new system, it is
important to make certain which automated data collection system works best with the WMS that is already installed or being purchased.

Other items for consideration include how well the WMS integrates with automated material handling equipment and whether the system is
capable of sending advanced electronic shipment notices. Cycle counting, cross docking, pick-to-carton, slotting, and yard management are
additional functionalities that may be important for some warehouse operations. Whether or not the WMS supports labor tracking and
capacity planning and/or activity based costing and billing is also an important consideration.

It is evident that purchasing a WMS system is not a simple process, but one that must be carefully investigated in order to maximize
efficiency in both installation and integration.