In the past, ERP platforms tended to have relatively narrow windows of focus. These systems could tell logistics decision-makers a lot about certain aspects of their companies, but in other areas, they were effectively blind. To that end, the emergence of broader technology gives warehouse executives greater power to take in and interpret a wider variety of information about their operations, including collection of information from outside the physical bounds of their facilities.
ERP and warehouse management systems can now account for information about delivery efficiency and the supply chain as a whole, even when items and materials have yet to arrive at a facility, or have already been delivered to a recipient, according to Logistics Manager. This kind of insight can be immensely helpful, because it may allow companies to better understand how issues arise in the supply chain or help work out kinks in the picking, packing and shipping processes. It may be particularly helpful to companies as they expand and seek to ramp up operations.
"WMS is moving beyond the warehouse to provide and support a growing number of business functions, such as delivery confirmations, and customer facing systems, like stock availability to e-commerce platforms," Alex Mills of Chess Logistics told the site. "WMS are also supporting an increasingly complex set of multichannel supply-chain functions."
Taking the next step
Indeed, many emerging ERP and WMS platforms now include at least some artificial intelligence technology that allows companies to not only collect all the necessary data related to their operations – which was, of course, the long-standing promise this software provided – but also interpret it more quickly and easily, according to Nathan Brown, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Escape Velocity Systems, writing for EBN Online.
When using legacy systems, logistics companies may have relied upon hours of work to properly interpret all the data their ERP systems collected, but AI can take over that job in short order, and perhaps provide insights and plans of action that humans could not. Generally speaking, if the name of the game is efficiency across all areas of operations, the AI in modern ERP and WMS is likely to help increase it significantly.
Examine the options
Of course, not all logistics firms have the same needs, and as such it's vital for companies to carefully examine what they want out of any new WMS or ERP system they adopt, and find the options that best suit those needs, according to Computer Weekly. For instance, while many companies now store their warehouse data in the cloud, it's up to each executive to determine whether that kind of plan will work for them, and to what extent they want to operate in that way.
The more companies can do to understand what advantages modern ERP or WMS software can do, the better off they're likely to be. While no two companies are alike, developers have created so many unique options that can be fitted together that a wide variety of options are available to just about any firm.