The need for warehouses and factories to update their warehouse management systems has been stressed time and again in the past few years. Experts point out that while there is often a transition period, the end result for new adopters is almost always greater efficiency and transparency for all aspects of production, handling and shipping. However, it's also important for decision-makers to remember what goes on when they don't have that transparency.

One of the biggest issues that legacy WMS platforms keep their operators from fully understanding is how inefficient their processes can be, according to Steve Adams, a director of Catalyst at Aptien and a contributor to Manufacturing Business Technology. There are many ways in which a few wasted minutes here and there on the shop floor can cost companies significantly over time. Failure to upgrade to the latest WMS will prevent businesses from fully understanding just how efficiently all aspects of their operations could run. 

Other benefits can come quickly
That level of revelatory transparency also applies to inventory management. Lingering items can take up shelf or floor space that could be better used, Adams noted. Depending on their age and other factors, legacy WMS may lack the ability to track inventory throughout a facility as accurately as possible. By upgrading, executives and workers alike can know exactly what they have on hand, as well as what's running low and will need re-ordering soon, in real time.

This kind of insight is especially important when it comes to shipping products out of a facility, according to Jesse Kaufman, the CEO and founder of cloud-based logistics and e-commerce fulfillment services provider ShippingTree, writing for Supply and Demand Chain Executive. The more that's done to get all aspects of a facility working in concert to deliver goods efficiently, the better off companies will be as it relates to meeting modern demands and avoiding any errors that could otherwise hold them up.

What does the switch entail?
Typically, older WMS platforms don't allow for easy integration with the latest inventory management technology or effective communication between individual departments, Kaufman added. Given that so much of modern logistics springs from precise inventory tracking, business in the industry must have the ability to find any items that may have been misplaced.

Where it concerns adoption of the latest WMS platforms, good news for the industry as a whole may be bad news for those still on the fence, according to Market Research Reports Search Engine. The latest estimates show that the market for warehouse management systems is expected to grow an average of 14.1 percent each year from 2015 through 2024. Over that time, the value of the industry as a whole might almost double, from $1.2 billion in 2015 to $4.1 billion in 2024.

With this in mind, it's vital for logistics or manufacturing executives who haven't yet evaluated their companies' needs for modern WMS to do so in the near future. Those who fail to keep up with these industry trends could end up falling behind when it comes to efficiency and success going forward. Consequently, starting the transition process as soon as possible isn't just a good idea. It's a necessity.