Understanding The Houston Inventory Management & Warehouse Management

The Difference Between Inventory Management & Warehouse Management In Houston

“Inventory management” and “warehouse management” are a pair of related terms, but to say that they’re interchangeable would be a mistake. Both of them involve the way a company handles operations and products, but they approach this same business in very distinct ways.

Business owners and particularly warehouse managers need to understand the subtleties that separate inventory and warehouse management. Using the right kind of management system can make your company more efficient and more profitable. Using the wrong kind, though, can have a negative impact. To learn the key differences between inventory and warehouse management, simply read on.

Inventory Management Defined

Inventory management is an umbrella term that includes all the processes required to deal with managing a supply chain, controlling inventory, forecasting demand, and reverse logistics. Key concepts in inventory management include the cost of goods, inventory turnover, safety stock, economic ordering quantity, and management of inventory by customers and/or vendors. Exactly how much attention needs to be devoted to inventory management varies from industry to industry and company to company. The fundamental concepts are universally applicable. Smaller businesses benefit from a very detail-oriented approach to inventory management. Good inventory management allows a company to apply lean practices throughout its supply chain, reducing unnecessary expenditures on rental, standing inventory, shipping, and reverse logistics.

Bringing an inventory management system online can open up a lot of promising opportunities. While there are endless ways to put your new tools to work, you need to make wise decisions guided by a rational supply chain strategy. Whether you are opening an entirely new warehouse, expanding an existing one, or looking for better inventory control, your new system can help – provided you use it wisely!

Warehouse Management Defined

Warehouse management is devoted to track and control products and other materials as they enter, leave, and move within a storage facility. Software tools and systems built to manage such operations are called a warehouse management system, or WMS. With a good WMS, a company can track its inventory precisely and manage stock locations. Earlier, more basic WMS systems can provide intuitive functionality for warehouse workers, but many modern WMS systems are complex and powerful enough to require a team dedicated exclusively to running them.

How a warehouse management system is implemented depends on several factors. The most important is typically the size and structure of the organization operating the system. A WMS can be implemented as a stand-alone unit or integrated into a larger management system (e.g. an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or supply chain execution suite).

The benefits of a good WMS include greater inventory accuracy, reduced labor costs, more flexible and responsive operations, reduced picking and shipping errors, and better customer service. A major advantage of modern WMSs is that they work with real-time data. This increases transparency and allows the entire organization to stay completely up to date on warehouse operations like goods movement, shipments, receipts, and orders.

How Are Inventory & Warehouse Management Similar?

Certain basic functions appear in both inventory and warehouse management systems. They both track products and materials via barcode and allow a company to manage shipping tasks, monitor product levels, receive orders, perform cycle counts, and manage multiple locations. In a sufficiently large operation, inventory management solutions are integrated into the WMS to deliver complete warehouse visibility.

The Differences Between Inventory & Warehouse Management

Many factors set an inventory management system apart from a warehouse management system. Scale and complexity are the key differences.

In an inventory management system, concentrating more on the products and materials rather than the facility gives you a broad overview of where your inventory is. In a warehouse management system, you typically get greater granularity in describing the physical locations of products. A warehouse management system allows you to monitor and manipulate a storage system internally, offering an increased awareness of sub-locations like compartments or bins.

When all you need to know is how much of a particular product is in the warehouse, an inventory management system will suffice. If you want an exact location for a specific item, though, you need a WMS.

On a larger scale, inventory management is typically performed in isolation. Warehouse management involves interconnecting with other departments in your organization.

Here are further distinctions between the two management systems:

Complexity

An inventory management system typically tracks products and materials as a running total. With a WMS, greater complexity allows the organization to track product inventory even when it is split into multiple storage locations. A WMS facilitates both external management and inventory tracking and internal warehouse affairs, such as moving products and materials through multiple storage systems within the same facility.

Integration

Inventory management is the first step toward holistic warehouse management, but it is largely an internal tool for the personnel managing a warehouse. When stronger connections to other departments are required, a WMS is an answer. The WMS facilitates ongoing operations and handles complex tasks like sales and distribution, quality management, and production supply.

Control

With inventory management systems, the key information that gets out of the warehouse is simply the quantity of a given product that it is stock. In a WMS, personnel throughout the organization can tell exactly where specific materials are currently stored. Operating a warehouse management system delivers much greater operational control and shares information that may be helpful or entirely essential for carrying out other tasks.

Solutions

With a WMS, a company can analyze its storage utilization and adjust its inventory handling to maximize efficiency. This cannot be done (not to the same extent) with an inventory management system. The volume of inventory data captured and shared by a WMS offers tremendous transparency and a range of different opportunities to streamline operations and increase efficiency.

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