Proper warehouse management is critical to inventory flow, but it doesn’t start at the warehouse, it starts at order and continues through delivery, which brings into play a transportation management system (TMS).
Combined with a warehouse management system (WMS), these powerful tools collect thousands of data points that can improve inventory flow and storage. Modern warehouses utilize barcodes or radio frequency identification (RFID) on pallets, and in some cases, even individual boxes. This helps track products, but it also helps TMS improve the entire process with more effective ordering that ensures proper levels of inventory are on-hand, through to delivery by the carrier, which can positively verify the product was delivered and done so on-time and damage-free.
Every movement of a piece of inventory can be tracked in this way, and that is only possible with a modern TMS that connects the disparate systems. In addition, in the case of e-commerce, in particular, some systems are capable of automating inventory replenishment, freeing up critical time for managers. It could also ensure vendors are meeting product requirements through exception management, a crucial role that modern TMSs’ are able to play for companies.
Can a TMS lead to better order picking and lower warehouse and transportation costs? The answer, again, is yes, although not directly. By communicating with a WMS, a TMS is able to identify the orders that must be fulfilled and lock those into a pre-planned route for the truck driver. With this information, the WMS is able to tell the warehouse workers in what order to pick the goods and load the trailer. This is especially important in LTL operations. Loaded correctly, the driver does not spend time looking for the correct shipment at a location, does not waste time moving shipments around to get to the proper pallet, and most importantly, is able to haul more freight and make additional deliveries. This reduces inventory on-hand, improves efficiencies in the warehouse and boosts customer satisfaction.
So while a TMS is not an inventory management tool, anyone involved in e-commerce or LTL shipping can leverage its capabilities in ways that lead to more efficient inventory management.
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