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What does the future hold for WMS systems?

Updated: Dec 14, 2023


The Future of WMS

The History of Warehouse Management Systems 


The concept of warehousing and inventory management has deep historical roots, stretching back centuries. For many years warehousing was at a core of many towns and villages. However, it was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that warehouse management underwent significant transformations and changed for good. 


1925 marked a pivotal moment in warehouse management with the introduction of pallet racks, revolutionizing the way goods were stored. This innovation shifted the focus towards maximizing warehouse space by building vertically, significantly increasing storage capacity. 


Following this in 1926, the debut of the forklift transformed the handling of goods. The ability to move large volumes of goods efficiently became a much easier and quicker task that enhanced warehouse productivity. 


The Dawn of Computerised Warehouse Management Systems


A major leap in warehouse management occurred in 1967 with IBM's development of the first computerised Warehouse Management System, initially used by NASA. This system managed a range of complex tasks such as high-volume transactions, which include:


  • Order entry

  • Inventory management

  • Other transaction-oriented applications


By 1971, with Walmart opening its first distribution centre, the concept of the supply chain continued to evolve even further, bolstering the prominence of WMS.

 

In 1975, J.C. Penney introduced the first real-time WMS, another significant milestone that boosted warehouse efficiency by streamlining product location processes. 


Fast forward to the 21st century, Warehouse Management Systems are now experiencing a new resurgence, becoming increasingly efficient thanks to cloud-based and on-premise solutions. 



10 Key Trends Shaping the Future of WMS Systems


As we look to the future, WMS systems are poised for further transformative changes. Here is what to expect:


Integration with emerging technologies

WMS software will increasingly integrate with IoT devices, drones, AR, and autonomous robots, enhancing efficiency and productivity. A Logistics Management report indicates that 85% of warehouses use WMS for their integration capabilities with innovative technologies. 


Artificial intelligence and machine learning

These technologies will be crucial in WMS for predictive analytics and process optimization, with Deskera noting that 19% of companies investing in WMS are using machine learning to improve forecast accuracy. 


Cloud-based solutions

Growing in popularity, cloud-based WMS offers scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Software Path reports that 53% of businesses prioritise a cloud-based solution when selecting a WMS.


Advanced robotics

Warehouses will continue to see an increased use of sophisticated robotics, including cobots. The Wall Street Journal highlights a rise in warehouse robotics usage from 15% in 2018 to 20% in 2022.


Blockchain for traceability

To ensure transparency across the supply chain, blockchain will be increasingly utilised for product tracking and compliance. It can help with tracking products, verifying authenticity, and maintaining accurate records for compliance and audit purposes. 


Voice and natural language interfaces

These will streamline order picking and warehouse navigation. Workers can interact with the system more intuitively, leading to increased productivity and reduced training time 


Autonomous vehicles

Beyond drones, autonomous vehicles like self-driving forklifts and transport robots may become more prevalent in warehouse operations. They can streamline material movement, reduce the risk of accidents, and improve overall efficiency.


Sustainability and green warehousing

In response to environmental concerns, WMS will integrate sustainable practices to reduce energy consumption and waste. Helping develop more eco-friendly packaging solutions.


Cross-border and global warehousing solutions

Addressing the needs of global e-commerce, WMS will focus on cross-border logistics and global fulfilment. 


Enhanced security and cybersecurity

With increased digitization, investing in robust security measures will be crucial to protect sensitive data and prevent cyber threats.


Technology a key factor in the future of WMS

These trends underscore the significant role of technology in evolving WMS systems. As supply chains continue to develop, WMS will be integral in optimizing processes in a competitive, fast-paced market. 


Futureproof your warehouse with Prime Horizon Group

Navigating the selection and implementation of a future-ready WMS can be challenging. As an official Blue Yonder WMS implementation specialist, Prime Horizon Group, with consultants in the UK, Europe, and APAC, offers comprehensive support throughout the implementation process and beyond. 


Our services include 24-hour support, testing, project management, and WMS training. To harness the power of a Blue Yonder WMS, contact us today. 





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