Inventory managementLogisticsWarehouse management

What is a WMS?

A WMS (Warehouse Management System) is a software that allows you to carry out an intelligent and real-time control of the operation, increase the speed of the transactions and have a wide visibility of the movements in the warehouse or the CEDI. In other words, it is a tool that supports operations management.

The objective of a WMS is to provide the information necessary to efficiently control the movement of materials within a warehouse or CEDI.

The way warehouses or CEDIS are managed has changed: Manual lists and mnemonic exercises to remember the quantity of products in the warehouse and its location are practices of the past.

It seems obvious, but it is extremely important to consider that a WMS is a system, it is integrated. Its correct operation depends, to a great extent, on the quality of its integrations.

WMS systems can be standalone applications or they can be integrated into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. So its implementation requires a process of assembly, adaptation and application that could take more than a year.

Functions of a WMS

WMSThe warehouse or distribution center is at the core of the supply chain operations. It is closely related to materials and / or finished products. In logistics and supply chain, the key is flow; And the purpose of a WMS is to support flow, that is, to help ensure that goods and materials move through warehouses in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

To achieve this purpose, a WMS offer basic capabilities or functions such as:

  • Reception
  • Storage
  • Stock location
  • Inventory management
  • Cyclical inventory
  • Task interlacing
  • Wave planning
  • Order allocation
  • Order preparation
  • Replenishment
  • Packaging
  • Shipment
  • Manpower management
  • Automated Material Handling Equipment (MHE) Interfaces
Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, considers embedded functionality what we refer to as extended WMS capabilities as components of a WMS assessment.

The extended functions or capabilities of a WMS include:

  • Labor / labor management
  • Slotting (smart unit arrangement)
  • Courtyard control
  • Voice picking
  • Shipping manifests
  • Value-added services such as light manufacturing / kitting
  • 3PL billing

Magic Quadrant for WMS 2021 – Gartner ©

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of the market situation for a technology product at any given time. The graph is divided into four parts where the main companies are distributed according to their rating based on the capacity to do and the integrity of the vision.

Ability to do

“The depth and breadth of WMS functionality remain very important factors when choosing a new WMS, especially for companies replacing outdated legacy systems. Increasingly, the technical architecture of the WMS is an important consideration for customers. new WMS customers where adaptability, extensibility, user experience and the cloud are priorities. ”

Vision integrity

“Domain expertise, technology vision, and vendor vision for the WMS of the future figure prominently. We consider vendor insight and insight for warehousing and, more broadly, logistics management both through and through. local and international level “.



The irruption of industry 4.0 has achieved the generalization of connection capacities between products, materials and the management systems of organizations. The data collected in the logistics processes can be integrated into a WMS in such a way that it helps to manage the flow of units from reception to dispatch.

The volume and capacity of data processing is contributing to the development of functions that until very recently were considered widespread, and that are increasingly possible and necessary, such as slotting (intelligent accommodation), which can be supported in intelligence artificial; IoT-based digital twins, which contribute to remote warehouse management; the integration of location intelligence, such as the use of geospatial data to optimize storage processes.

Bryan Salazar López

By profession, Industrial Engineer, Master in Logistics, specialized in productivity, with interest and experience in modeling processes under sustainability indicators. Founder of, site where research contributions, articles and references are collected.

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