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How to Enhance WMS with Self-Driving Warehouse Vehicles

Melanie Stone |

Warehouse management plays a crucial role in modern-day operations, as businesses around the world are constantly seeking ways to optimize their warehouse processes for improved efficiency and productivity. To achieve this goal, the integration of advanced technologies has proven to be a game-changer. Among these technologies, warehouse management software (WMS) stands out as a powerful tool, helping organization’s streamline inventory control, order fulfillment, and overall warehouse operations. 

According to the Logistics Management report, warehouse management software is used in 83% of warehouse operations. Nevertheless, the dynamic nature of today's environment necessitates staying ahead of the competition, and autonomous warehouse vehicles have emerged as a key innovation.

These vehicles, equipped with cutting-edge AI and machine learning algorithms, have the ability to revolutionize warehouse operations, making them more efficient, safe, and cost-effective. By combining the capabilities of WMS with autonomous warehouse vehicles, businesses can unlock new levels of operational excellence.

Let’s explore how your organization can supercharge your warehouse management software (WMS) by implementing autonomous warehouse vehicles. 

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The Role of Warehouse Management Software (WMS)

What is a Warehouse Management System?

Warehouse management software (WMS) is an essential element in ensuring efficient warehouse operations. With its comprehensive set of functionalities, WMS plays a pivotal role in automating and streamlining various tasks, offering a seamless and efficient workflow that enhances the overall performance of your warehouse.

More specifically, by leveraging data integration and automation, WMS can provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, facilitate efficient order picking and shipping, and enable accurate demand forecasting and replenishment planning. 

Warehouse management software operates by integrating with various data sources within the warehouse, such as barcode scanners, RFID systems, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. It utilizes this data to provide comprehensive visibility and control over the entire warehouse ecosystem. 

Types of warehouse management systems include —

  1. Standalone WMS: Standalone WMS solutions are independent software applications solely dedicated to warehouse management, often used by smaller warehouses that aren’t looking to integrate a new system. Key examples are HighJump, Manhattan Associates, and JDA Software.

  2. ERP-Integrated WMS: Some WMS solutions are integrated within larger Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. These systems combine warehouse management capabilities with broader business management functionalities. Examples include SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) and Oracle Warehouse Management (WMS).

  3. Cloud-Based WMS: Cloud-based WMS solutions are hosted on remote servers and accessed via the internet. In turn, they offer greater scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, as businesses can avoid upfront infrastructure investments. Examples of this type of WMS include Fishbowl Warehouse, 3PL Warehouse Manager, and Logiwa.

What are the Key Features and Capabilities of WMS?

Depending on the warehouse management system type you choose, this technology comes equipped with a range of features and capabilities to support efficient warehouse operations.

Some key features may include:

  1. Inventory Tracking and Visibility: WMS can provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, locations, and movement within the warehouse, enabling accurate tracking and management.

  2. Order Management: WMS can facilitate end-to-end order management, from order processing to fulfillment. It can automate order prioritization, routing, and tracking, ensuring efficient and accurate order processing.

  3. Picking and Packing: WMS can optimize order picking by guiding warehouse workers through the most efficient routes, which in turn reduces travel time and improves productivity. It also supports packing processes, ensuring products are properly packaged for shipment.

  4. Receiving and Put-Away: WMS can help with receiving and storing incoming goods. It’s able to capture shipment details, generate put-away instructions, and direct warehouse workers to the appropriate storage locations, optimizing space utilization.

  5. Shipping: WMS can even help generate shipping labels, manage carrier selection, and automate shipping documentation, simplifying the outbound shipment process.

  6. Cycle Counting: WMS can facilitate regular cycle counting activities, enabling ongoing inventory accuracy verification and reducing the need for time-consuming physical inventories.

  7. Reporting and Analytics: WMS can further generate comprehensive reports and analytics on key performance metrics, enabling data-driven decision-making and continuous process improvement.

  8. Labor Management: WMS can also help optimize labor allocation and productivity by tracking employee performance, managing shifts, and assigning tasks efficiently.

How to Enhance Warehouse Management Software (WMS) with Industrial Autonomous Vehicles.

The advent of industrial autonomous vehicles has revolutionized warehouse management, transforming traditional operations into highly automated, intelligent, and interconnected systems. The rise of these advanced vehicles has been fueled by the rapid advancement of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, computer vision, and sensors. As a result, autonomous vehicles are now capable of perceiving their surroundings, making informed decisions, and safely navigating complex warehouse environments with greater precision and efficiency than ever before.

According to ABI Research, the global adoption of warehouse robotics is set to rise in the coming years. Specifically, it’s predicted that by 2025, over 4 million robots will be installed in more than 50,000 warehouses worldwide. This rapid growth reflects the increasing recognition of the power of autonomous vehicles in optimizing warehouse operations.

Therefore, integrating autonomous vehicles with Warehouse Management Software (WMS) has emerged as a crucial factor in unlocking the full potential of warehouse efficiency. By seamlessly communicating and exchanging data, autonomous vehicles and WMS can work together harmoniously to achieve enhanced productivity, accuracy, and safety within any warehouse environment.

What are the Benefits of Integrating Autonomous Industrial Vehicles into Your WMS?

Integrating industrial AVs into your warehouse brings numerous benefits to WMS and more generally, overall warehouse operations:

1. Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity:

Deploying industrial autonomous vehicles can significantly enhance the efficiency and productivity of your warehouse. These vehicles can autonomously perform a wide range of tasks, such as goods transportation, pallet stacking and retrieval, and inventory movement. With AVs, you can automate and optimize these processes, reducing the time required to complete tasks, minimizing errors, and in turn, maximizing throughput.

Autonomous vehicles can also work continuously, performing these often mundane and repetitive tasks or routes, from point-to-point transfers to long-haul inventory replenishments, with increased accuracy and precision. In doing so, these vehicles are shown to free up an estimated 30-50% of a skilled worker’s time. As a result, organizations will experience a noticeable ROI, as warehouses are able to accelerate the pace of operations and streamline workflows, boosting warehouse productivity.


2. Real-time Data and Insights:

This integration also allows for real-time data exchange and insights, enabling better decision-making and proactive warehouse management. AVs can communicate with the WMS system, offering insights into their activities, performance metrics, and operational patterns. This flow of information empowers warehouse managers to make data-driven decisions, optimize resource allocation, and dynamically adapt to changing demands. 

By leveraging the data collected from your autonomous warehouse vehicles, your WMS can generate valuable insights and analytics. This includes information on inventory levels, task durations, vehicle utilization, and operational bottlenecks. Armed with these insights, organizations are able to better identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions that enhance overall operational efficiency.

For instance, Cyngn Insight, our autonomous FMS system, tracks key metrics such as location, battery life, and cycle time to get a clear picture of how much work your vehicle is doing. Additionally, organizations can see throughput and vehicle productivity metrics to identify opportunities for optimization and cost savings.


3. Improved Accuracy and Inventory Management:

Another critical benefit of integrating industrial AVs with your WMS is the improved accuracy in inventory management. AVs are often equipped with advanced sensors and scanning technologies that enable precise tracking of inventory movements and real-time updates in your WMS. This ensures accurate inventory counts, reducing the likelihood of stockouts or overstock situations.

Autonomous warehouse vehicles can also assist in cycle counting, inventory audits, and ensuring proper product placement within the warehouse. With their ability to navigate through aisles and locate specific items, these innovative vehicles can help minimize errors in picking and packing, ensuring the right products are selected and placed in the correct orders.

4. Enhanced Safety and Risk Mitigation:

Safety incidents in warehouses are a serious concern, with millions of workers at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. Fortunately, industrial autonomous vehicles are equipped with advanced safety features, such as collision avoidance systems, obstacle detection, and adaptive navigation. By integrating autonomous vehicles with your WMS, you can enhance safety standards in your warehouse environment. AVs consistently follow predefined safety parameters, ensuring compliance with safety protocols and minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries.

Additionally, AVs can contribute to risk mitigation by reducing human error. Human-operated vehicles are susceptible to fatigue, distractions, and errors, which can result in accidents and damage to inventory. By replacing manual operations with AVs, you can minimize the risks associated with human error and create a safer working environment.

At Cyngn, every aspect of our autonomous technology stack was designed with safety in mind. As a result, our system is equipped with multiple sensors, communication lights, and redundancies to keep workers out of harm's way.

Implementing Autonomous Warehouse Vehicles and WMS Integration.

What are Steps to Consider When Integrating Autonomous Vehicles with WMS?

Integrating autonomous warehouse vehicles with WMS requires careful planning and execution. Consider the following steps to ensure a smooth and successful implementation:

  1. Assess Operational Requirements: Begin by evaluating your warehouse's specific operational needs and identifying areas where autonomous vehicles can add value. Determine the types of tasks and workflows that can be automated effectively, such as material transport, picking and packing, or inventory replenishment, and prioritize integration accordingly. Cyngn understands that every business is unique and has its own set of needs. That's why our team of deployment experts will assess your operation and determine the best use case for our autonomous vehicle technology.

  2. Select the Right Autonomous Vehicles: Choose autonomous vehicles that align with your warehouse requirements and workflow. Consider factors such as payload capacity, navigation capabilities, and compatibility with your existing infrastructure. For example, Cyngn's autonomous stockchaser offers a high load capacity of 6,000 lbs, and can be easily retrofitted into your existing vehicles. Additionally, AVs equipped with advanced safety features such as collision avoidance systems should be prioritized.

  3. Define Integration Objectives: Clearly define your integration objectives, including the specific functionalities you want to achieve through the integration of autonomous vehicles and WMS. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and align them with your business goals. 

  4. Mapping: Before an autonomous vehicle can operate, it needs a detailed and accurate map of its environment. At Cyngn, we take care of this crucial step for you. We'll visit your facility to create a high-precision, digital map of your domain.

  5. Training: It’s important to train warehouse workers on the operation and interaction with autonomous vehicles. Cyngn additionally provides robust training and support services to ensure your team maximizes the value of your investment.

What are Best Practices for a Successful Integration?

To ensure a successful integration of autonomous vehicles with WMS, several best practices should be followed:

  1. Piloting: Thorough testing and piloting before full-scale deployment is essential. Conducting extensive testing in controlled environments helps validate the integration and identify and resolve any potential issues or performance gaps.

  2. Monitoring and Optimization: Continuous monitoring and optimization should be implemented after integration. By analyzing the data collected from the integrated system, businesses can identify opportunities for further optimization, improving efficiency, and productivity.

  3. Regular Maintenance and Updates: Regular maintenance and updates are important for the seamless operation of autonomous vehicles and WMS integration. Establishing a maintenance schedule and staying updated with software upgrades and patches provided by manufacturers ensures optimal performance and access to the latest features and enhancements.

    By following these steps and implementing best practices, warehouses can unlock the full potential of industrial automation, optimize operations, and drive significant improvements in efficiency and productivity.

How Does Cyngn’s AI-Powered Autonomous Vehicles Help Supercharge Your WMS?

Cyngn's DriveMod enables warehouses to unlock the full potential of industrial automation, taking warehouse management to new heights. At Cyngn, our industrial AVs can integrate with virtually any warehouse management system, allowing businesses to leverage the benefits of autonomous warehouse vehicles without disrupting existing warehouse management infrastructure or operations.

Cyngn’s Autonomous Stock Chaser:

Stock chasers are compact and agile industrial vehicles specifically designed for navigating narrow warehouse aisles and efficiently transporting goods, making them ideal for optimizing material handling in dynamic warehouse environments. Specifically, Cyngn’s autonomous stockchaser automates repetitive hauling workflows such as transferring finished goods or delivering supplies. By shifting these responsibilities to a robot, warehouses can reduce costly safety incidents and free your team up to focus on other responsibilities.

These vehicles, running DriveMod, can take commands, drive to different stations, start, stop and adapt to the situation on the ground. Moreover, if your facility ever needs to adjust its workflow or layout, DriveMod can adapt with ease. 

Cyngn’s Autonomous Forklift:

In 2024, DriveMod will also come to BYD's fleet of lift trucks. Already, these vehicles are in use across thousands of facilities. Soon, they will be able to make intelligent, real-time decisions, delivering materials to the right place at the right time — automatically. 

Our DriveMod-enabled autonomous forklift offers flexible pallet detection, with the ability to detect and analyze pallet dimensions in real-time. It further incorporates advanced safety features, equipped with safety redundancies and a 360° field of view while unloaded and loaded. Lastly, with a load capacity of 10,000 lbs., it can handle heavy loads and stack multiple units autonomously. The combination of these features makes our autonomous forklift a reliable and efficient solution for warehouse optimization.

Embracing the future of warehouse management systems is crucial in today's rapidly advancing technological world. The integration of advanced technologies, like Cyngn's DriveMod, enables warehouses to supercharge their WMS and elevate overall efficiency and productivity. By leveraging these advanced vehicles and embracing innovation, businesses can stay at the forefront of the industry and position themselves for success in the evolving landscape of warehouse management.

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