APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework, Third Edition

9.2 Warehouse management systems (WMS)

WMS refers to software applications that manage the flow of materials into, through, and out of storage facilities. A typical WMS can provide detailed directions for receiving, storing, bin selecting, picking, and shipping tasks required in all warehousing operations. By shifting some of the decision making from independent human operators to a centralized planning system, measurable benefits can be achieved. These planning systems support warehouse workers through standardized processes, instructions, rules, and parameters established during system implementation.

9.2.1 Automated order picking

There are three methods of order picking: manual, semi-automated, and fully automated. Manual picking involves a human picker physically retrieving an item from a bin. Semi-automated systems bring the item to the picker. Horizontal and vertical carousels are used extensively in this approach. In automated order picking, product is picked without direct human interaction, eliminating a picker from any direct, hands-on activity.

9.2.2 Automated storage and retrieval systems

An automated storage and retrieval system is a high-density rack inventory storage system that uses vehicles to automatically load and unload the racks. It is best suited in places that machines can put away and retrieve materials and free up workers to perform other (perhaps-less dangerous) tasks. The capital costs required to purchase and maintain automated storage and retrieval systems limits their application solely to high-volume operations.