In this day and age, the efficient running of any warehouse would be unthinkable, if not impossible, without a reliable warehouse management system. The advent of the computer-based WMS has long since revolutionised warehouse management in efficiency, accuracy, and most importantly, scope – it is now possible to keep track of a vastly larger amount of stock than it had previously been.
But how has warehouse management evolved over the years? It seems flabbergasting now to think that warehouse management would even have been possible in the dark ages before the internet, so how exactly did workers keep track of their stock in the past?
The origins of warehouse management can in fact be traced back to ancient Egypt, where warehouses were first constructed in order to store grain. The need for management systems first arose with the beginnings of intercontinental trade, when the introduction items other than grain necessitated the division of storage space.
As history progressed, warehouse management changed very little and was carried out manually with pen and paper. For a fully active warehouse, stock management was an incredibly laborious and time-consuming process, and records could frequently become wildly inaccurate given the lack of secure storage. Factor in import and export movements and ever-changing tax rates, and warehouse management was a certifiable nightmare!
Sadly, our ancestors would have to suffer with this tedious burden right up until the late 20th century, when computer-based systems and the internet transformed the face of business. Modern systems make it comparatively very simple to deal with all aspects of warehouse management: from tracking stock intake and movements to the nitty-gritty of HMRC rates and compliance, almost every task can be completed with ease through a single interface.
Computer-based warehouse management systems have not changed all that much since their inception. Of course, things have certainly moved on – with the speeds at which software and associated technologies advance, many improvements have been made in terms of integration, automation, efficiency, and the introduction of mobile units – but on a fundamental level, this breed of WMS remains as it always has been.