Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software suite; an integral part of Supply Chain Management (SCM) that delivers the ability to map any warehouse structure (irrespective of the size) according to the specific requirements of the SCM process. It optimizes the management, storage and distribution of products or raw materials. It also helps to increase speed and efficiency in the internal movement of goods.
The established (old) businesses have systems that are ten-plus years old and are too expensive to configure, maintain, upgrade and have outdated functionality. Currently, as existing solutions have matured and more replacements are expected in the near future, which is expected to drive the market demand for WMS systems. These solutions are evolutionary, with built-in enhanced functionalities and better integration with other supply chain management systems, to ensure quick modes of delivery. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is increased adoption of warehouse management systems by small and medium-sized businesses. But, the main challenge faced by these businesses is the high cost associated with the deployment of WMS solutions.
However, integration of software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in WMS has resulted in reducing the ownership cost. It provides WMS as a service by a third party, hosted via cloud-based computing, which these companies can outsource. This gives more flexibility to companies to focus on their core business. It not only brings efficiency in the overall supply chain inventory levels but reduces the allowances for holding executions and recalls at all warehouse sites, thereby contributing to the market demand.
Demand for WMS is high in transportation and logistics industry, with many providers offering transportation management systems (TMS) as part of integrated WMS solutions. Huge demand from pharmaceutical and biotech, retail, food and beverages industry is seen during the forecast period due to the advanced customization capabilities of warehouse management systems with hand-held Radio frequency (RF) devices. Such integrations ensure high mobility among workers and increases productivity by providing high levels of accuracy in picking goods through navigational assistance for movement within the warehouse. In addition, many WMS vendors are now offering labor management systems (LMS).
Integration of warehouse management systems with LMS can offer a significant return on investment with reduced labor costs, minimum dependency on temporary labor hired during peak periods, and other interface applications such as attendance of the employees. Semiconductor, automobile, and electronics industries too has high demand for WMS owing to growing trend of manufacturing units being set-up or outsourced in the emerging countries to lower the production cost. However, benefits of plant relocation or outsourcing can only be realized when there is accuracy in the delivery of right component at the required place without any delays in delivery. This is ensured with WMS, wherein such rich levels of WMS integration helps companies with agility and responsiveness in their businesses, with the changes in market dynamics.
Asia-Pacific regions, such as China, India, Thailand and Mexico, among others, will be the most emergent markets for warehouse management systems due to a shift of manufacturing units to these countries for their cost-effective production advantages. Major MNC’s have their base units and warehouses in North America, Europe and Japan and with consistently rising demand for delivery of important components to and from other warehouses, market for WMS will see tremendous demand in these regions.
Some of the key vendors providing WMS solutions are SAP AG, HighJump Software Inc., Manhattan Associates Inc., Oracle Corp and RedPrairie Corp. Other prominent vendors include AGI Worldwide Inc., Reply S.p.A., Softeon Inc, Asgard Software Inc., Automation Associates Inc., Advanced Systems Consultants Inc., BFC Software Inc., Cadre Technologies Inc., HAL Systems Corp., Deposco Inc., Infor Inc., and Logitity Inc., among others.