The Changing Face of Supply Chain WMS

Warehouse management systems have transformed the supply chain world for a lot longer than you might realize. Here is a look at how WMS have evolved to become the indispensable tools they are today.

Warehouse management as a concept actually dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, where people needed ways of managing the grain they collected from crops. They kept their records on papyrus in hopes of preventing famine when droughts struck. This basic concept persisted until the 19th century, when good transport by rail took center stage.

Many railroad companies held monopolies on the shipping and storage of goods, and the hauling and lifting at railroad terminals was carried out by hand in those times. Toward the end of World War I, hand trucks were used to facilitate the movement of products. However, inaccurate deliveries were a big problem, and precise inventory counts could not be tracked.

From 1939 through the early ‘70s, wooden pallets and forklifts brought new levels of efficiency to the management of inventory and the bulk cataloguing it allowed. Warehouses started focusing on pallet numbers when tracking inventory. Computers also started to emerge, which meant broad inventory reports could be created and automated retrieval and storage systems (AS/RS) could be used.

Although they were useful in their time, AS/RS became obsolete in the ‘90s as companies shifted their focus to reducing their inventory levels and gaining greater control over the individual movements in their facilities. Database-driven systems were used to update inventories at scheduled intervals, allowing for just-in-time deliveries.

WMS in the 21st Century

In the early 2000s, warehouses advanced significantly as technological gains, particularly in databases, allowed them to keep up with higher demands and prevent overstocking. Robotic systems started to emerge in the auto industry and computers really gained speed.

Since cloud computing entered the scene in 2006, major companies started to offer off=site storage at competitive prices. This is when software firms started moving their operations to the cloud and offering Software-as-a-Service platforms for managing WMS from any place or device with an internet connection.

While it’s hard to say for certain where WMS will stand a few decades from now, one thing is for certain: transformations will continue to help meet the demands posed by real-time fulfillment and deliveries.

This blog post was based off of an article from Cerasis. View the original here.