A major component of some business’ success and survival is supplying exceptional distribution services to consumers or other businesses through third-party (3PL) logistics companies.

The opinion of a certain product or business can be greatly influenced by all players within a supply chain, including the third-party logistics company. This has created competition within the logistics, trucking and warehousing industry to offer solutions that are extremely effective, well-managed, and customized to the client’s requirements.

To manage complex tasks within the supply chain, logistic companies have implemented internal systems called Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). These highly configurable and functional systems allow companies to take control of their product and manage every aspect of storage, shipment and distribution.

What Can a WMS Do?

When looking for a Warehousing and Logistics Company to trust with your product, there are certain features that should be provided through the logistic companies’ chosen WMS system.

Key WMS Features/Functions Include:

✓ Internet Enabled

To provide accessibility and control of your product the WMS system should be accessible through standard web browsers. Employees and customers should have immediate access to critical information such as: receipt information, new orders, inventory levels, reports, and distribution activities.

✓ Real-time Capabilities

An advanced WMS system is necessary, but it is becoming increasingly more important to receive information in real-time. Through integrated hardware and software programs, products can be integrated to enable real-time inventory processing.

✓ Packaging Options

A modern 3PL logistic company can take your bulk goods and package them for your end customer thus saving you space and the hassles of running a packaging department. This is especially useful if you sell the same product to different customers under their private label brand. The product can be stored in bulk and then only the amount needed to fill your customers demand is packaged.

✓ Kitting / De-Kitting

Based on customer requirements, BR Williams has been providing kitting functions by creating work orders that direct warehouse associates to combine several items to form a new item… or convert an item into a new item. “De-kitting” can also process returned kitted merchandise and place salvageable kit components back into inventory.

✓ Stock Rotation Methods

A strong WMS system will support a variety of stock rotation requirements, including FIFO, LIFO, lot number, receipt date, manufacture date, expiration date, and support for serial number tracking. Orders can identify specific serial numbers of items to be picked, or can perform serial number capture during the outbound process.

✓ Inventory History Transaction Logs

It’s important that the inventory system log all activity related to inventory inbound, outbound, internal warehouse movement, and even inter-warehouse transfers. This provides a complete audit trail of activity affecting your inventory.

✓ Returned Goods & Backorder Processing

Logistic Companies that only ship a product from point A to point B have been left behind. Now, routes are complex and deliveries are unique to the consumer. Another part of the supply chain process is dealing with returned goods and backorder processing. With an effective WMS system it is possible to know of a shipment or delivery issue the minute that it happens. It also allows for more control of the returned product, helping businesses manage re-inspection, quality control, rework, repackaging, re-inventory, salvage, destruction or “return to vendor” status. These systems should also allow for backorder rules to be set at both the customer and item level, providing automatic backorder generation and management

✓ Customized Reporting / Compliance Labeling

While standard reports are crucial and used throughout the entire supply chain process, your WMS should allow for customized reports to be saved and used, as well as sorted, stored and distributed electronically. Shipping documents should also be customized based on consumer needs and available electronically. For your customers that require compliance labeling the 3PL should have the ability to create and manage this process so you don’t have to worry about software and systems to meet those customer requirements.

✓ …and more:

The core functions of a powerful WMS system should also include:

  • General Inventory Maintenance
  • Inventory Adjustments
  • Placing Products on Hold
  • Kitting and Product Conversion
  • Stock Rotation Methods
  • Cycle Counting
  • Physical Inventories
  • Inventory Reporting
  • Inventory History Transaction Logs
  • System Security

What Else a Logistics Company Should Provide

These features are just a few of the basic warehouse management system requirements that a logistics company should provide to their clientele though a WMS.

But, they should also provide:

  • Consistent communication
  • Management updates
  • Product/shipment updates throughout the supply chain process.

What We Use

BR Williams (an Alabama-based trucking, warehousing, and logistics company) proudly uses the Synapse WMS system.

WMS System Used by BR Williams Logistics in AlabamaThe Synapse system offers these capabilities to customers, including many more, to ensure that each client’s unique supply chain process runs seamlessly.

The Synapse System Major Features and Capabilities Used by BR Williams Include:

  • Internet Enabled
  • Real-time RF Technology
  • Barcode Technology
  • Pick & Pack Options
  • Automated Material Handling System Integration
  • Returned Goods Processing
  • Backorder Processing
  • Item Substitution
  • Inventory Cost Tracking
  • Retail Price Tracking
  • Activity and Performance Monitoring
  • Automated Knitting and Assembly
  • Automated QC and Product Inspection
  • Compliance Label and Document Generation
  • Shipping Documents Capabilities
  • EDI / Electronic data transfer
  • Customized Reporting and Electronic Distribution

Why Should This Matter?

Understanding why logistics companies invest in best in class WMS systems to power your supply chain needs, is important because if you don’t have a strong need to outsource distribution services TODAY…you may after only one strong year of new sales.

Be sure, when choosing a warehousing, trucking, and logistics solutions company to find one that will suit your needs, big or small, and will allow the opportunity for your business to grow or expand.

About BR Williams:

With humble beginnings back in 1958, BR Williams has grown into an award-winning supply chain management company servicing all 48 contiguous states and Canada. With facilities in Mobile ALPiedmont, ALTallahassee, FL; Anniston, AL (two facilities); Eastaboga, AL; and Oxford, AL, B.R. Williams’ distribution network supports over 50 customers and another 2,550 in the Trucking and Logistics divisions. Industries served include the following: automotive, defense, home improvement, education, food raw materials, textiles, chemical, industrial packaging, metals (finished goods), highway safety and more.

To discuss your Distribution, Logistics, or Transportation Services options, please contact Matt Nelson at matt.nelson@brwilliams.com or (800)-523-7963.