The Remarkable Evolution of WMS Equipment
From Clipboards to Augmented Reality
In the ‘Before Times’, before the invention of the WMS, navigating the world of warehouse management used to be a task that was marked by manual counts, ledger entries, and the ever-present clipboard. Then the evolution of WMS happened.
These days, we operate in an era where the Warehouse Management System (WMS) landscape is characterized by cutting-edge technology, real-time data, and interconnected devices. And it’s been an interesting journey getting from there to here, with some impressive evolution of WMS equipment over the years.
In the early days, warehouse management was an entirely manual process. Inventory counts were performed by hand, with employees noting down quantities on clipboards. The room for error was enormous, with miscounts, misplaced items, and stock discrepancies being all too common.
Then, in the late 20th century computers started to make their way into the business world, and warehouses were pulled along with that evolution. Simple software began replacing paper-based systems.
Does anyone else remember Lotus123? No?
Just me then.
Digital records increased accuracy and sped up data retrieval, but they were still primarily static databases without much real functionality to speak of.
The introduction of barcoding in the 1970s and 1980s was a game-changer for WMS equipment. Instead of manual entry, employees could now scan items, instantly updating inventory levels in the system. This not only increased efficiency but also significantly reduced errors. And it had a significant effect on productivity as well.
As technology advanced, the tools warehouse employees were using started to become more mobile. Radio Frequency (RF) handheld devices allowed workers to update the WMS from anywhere in the warehouse. And this mobility meant real-time updates and more efficient picking, packing, and shipping processes.
Then the Internet of Things (IoT) came along, bringing with it a new layer of sophistication to WMS equipment. Devices started communicating with each other. Sensors on shelves could detect inventory levels, smart forklifts knew where to pick up and drop off pallets, and conveyor belts started to be able to sort packages based on real-time demand schedules.
Recent years have seen experiments with drones for inventory counts and augmented reality (AR) glasses to help in picking processes. These tools, some of which are still in the preliminary stages, hint at a future where warehouse management is even more streamlined, efficient, and integrated with the latest tech trends than it is today.
If you’ve ever wanted to sum up the technological changes that have happened over the last few decades, then the evolution of WMS equipment is a splendid example of continuous innovation, with each era building upon the last to create a more optimized, efficient, and error-free environment.
And as we stand on the cusp of what might be the next big thing in warehouse management, one thing is clear: the world of WMS is as dynamic as the warehouses that it seeks to manage. The challenge and excitement lie in keeping up—and anticipating what’s next.
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