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» WMS and ADC Systems
WMS and ADC Systems
Inventory control, while its the primary function of warehouse management systems, is certainly not the only function. Some of the ancillary considerations such as increased productivity, especially through automated data collection, provide substantial benefits as well. In fact, ADC technology, coupled with warehouse automation systems, provides the possibility of break-through gains in overall productivity.

Scanners and portable data terminals can almost entirely eliminate paper forms and documents from the warehouse floor. That means no more pick sheets, no more receiving documents, no more clerical staff doing data entry. The data is all collected electronically when items are scanned and stored in either a central database or hand held devices that can later be downloaded to a central database. Elimination of paper, for the most part, also means a huge reduction in errors. If voice technology is used, operators can function in a totally hands-free fashion and can be directed specifically to each item that has to be put away, moved and/or picked. Thus, search time is also dramatically reduced.

Checking and rechecking are processes that are a significant part of non-automated warehouse operations, especially in the packing and shipping functions. With ADC systems, the accuracy is so improved that there is little need for that type of cross-checking. Verifications can be accomplished by a scanning process rather than manual counting. Advance ship notices can be automatically generated by the scanning process, eliminating the need for more labor.

In fact, most of the warehouse functions in an automated system are directed by computer gic. The put-away driver, for example, doesnt have to search for an empty location, but is directed via RF terminal, to the locations that are open and best suited for that product. If the load is not placed as directed, the system notifies the operator that the load requires attention. Pickers are also directed, by the most efficient path possible, to the exact aisle and spot where merchandise to fill their order is located.

Task interleaving, a process of combining different work assignments into a continuous flow that minimizes workers nonproductive time, can also be accomplished much more readily with warehouse management and automated data collection software. Predefined tables of equipment and task types are programmed into the system, into dynamic queues organized by priority. Operators are tracked by current position and status, then assigned complementary tasks that fall within the same geographical area or work type.

Labor performance statistics and task productivity data are also electronically maintained by higher level WMS systems. A complete audit trail of all transactions, time and date stamped, can be produced by the system as data is scanned into it. Some systems generate a variety of reports, depending on a companys needs.

At the same time, many WMS systems have the capability to determine how much labor is required to meet various task requirements. Supervisors can capitalize on the systems estimates to make sure the right amount of labor is available at any given time. Activities can be balanced to make sure that the work flows smoothly and operators are neither underutilized or overworked.

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