What’s the Difference Between Warehouse Automation and Warehouse Management?

difference-between-warehouse-management-and-warehouse-automationAs we discussed earlier this week, we are expanding our borders to include warehouse management in our area of expertise. We believe our clients should have a well-rounded solution to fit their unique needs, whether that be through basic warehouse management or more advanced enterprise technology. Over the past year, we’ve released both and have since helped many manufacturers and distributors take full control of their operations.

Since our release of our warehouse management products, we have received a lot of questions about the purpose of our products, particularly in the areas of warehouse automation and warehouse management. Which one is best? Does my company need a full warehouse management solution, or should we just stick with automating our manual processes? What are the benefits of one, the other, or both?

In order to clear up any confusion, we’d like to take some time to explain the purpose of both automation and warehouse management. While they may seem the same on the surface, the reality is that warehouse automation and warehouse management solutions are actually very different in nature and should be regarded as such.

Warehouse Automation: The Key to Getting More Done Faster

With the rise of dot-com fulfillment and the far-reaching effects of globalization, warehouses are under a lot of pressure to deliver products and goods into the hands of their customers faster than ever. This almost instantaneously turnaround expectation has led to a lot of stress on companies, particularly on the warehouse floor. Customer satisfaction is everything, and if the right product is not delivered into the hands of the right customer on-time each and every time, the company stands to lose business and even its reputation in some cases.

Every warehouse is riddled with inefficiencies that harm the operation, but inefficiencies resulting from unnecessary manual processes are the most harmful. They hold up the fulfillment process, increasing the time it takes to deliver goods and meet customer expectations. In order to gain speed and accuracy in the warehouse, companies need a solution capable of automating these inefficiencies, decreasing the margin of human error and waste.

That’s what warehouse automation is: replacing manual processes with automated, high-level solutions designed to maximize efficiency and eliminate waste. Barcoding tools and software, RFID, and voice-activated picking solutions all fall under the category of warehouse automation technology as they all focus on replacing manual, time-consuming and error-riddled processes with streamlined efficiency. When incorporated with a warehouse management or ERP solution, warehouse automation tools can provide companies with the visibility they need in the warehouse to fulfill orders with ease. These tools take the guesswork out of warehouse management, allowing companies to track products as they move through the warehouse and into the hands of their customers.

Warehouse Management: Tying Up all the Loose Ends

When we talk about warehouse management, we are talking about everything involved in running your warehouse operation: picking/packing, inventory management and control, shipping, reporting, vendor relationships, etc. More than simply streamlining your processes and improving efficiency, warehouse management tools help you control your entire operation – from bottom to top. Full warehouse management solutions include warehouse automation but are not limited to the technology.

To put it simply, warehouse management technology is capable of managing the entire warehouse operation while warehouse automation tools are designed to streamline certain processes involved in the operation and support warehouse management technology. A good warehouse operation cannot have one without the other, as both technologies provide something different – and necessary – to the operation.

Warehouse automation tools can be integrated with warehouse management software to provide your company a high-level warehouse solution. Give us a call today to learn about how we can help you link the two and bring you to a new level of success.