WMS data integration: keeping it simple
Fully automate the process of inventory tracking with the integration of the Verity system and your WMS system.
Wednesday 2 August 2023
Warehouse inventory drones from Verity empower users to take control inventory by fully automating the process of inventory tracking. The drones fly through the warehouse during downtime in warehouse operations—often on nights or weekends—capturing accurate inventory data. But despite the proven benefits of this type of automation, the path to adoption can feel daunting. This is especially true for companies that have experienced escalating IT integration costs and project delays when integrating new systems into existing enterprise systems. To mitigate the challenges of WMS integration, we use a simple, effective approach that ensures the Verity system receives all the WMS data it needs to provide valuable inventory insights—without the need for a lengthy and costly systems integration project.
Quick, secure data transfer
The primary goal of the Verity system is to identify discrepancies between where the WMS indicates goods are located and the actual location of the goods in the warehouse. Identifying these errors can immediately reduce time-consuming ‘pallet hunting,’ improve customer service, boost sustainability, and improve productivity in the warehouse. But to give users the insights needed to achieve those benefits, Verity requires visibility into inventory data stored in the WMS.
Fortunately, acquiring the needed information can be accomplished securely with minimal effort using a simple batch export via a flat (CSV) file created by internal IT staff. Just three simple steps are needed to transfer inventory data from the WMS to the Verity system:
Step 1: Define & refine the dataset
Working together, a Verity solution specialist and the client’s in-house WMS or inventory analyst define the data requirements and format of the export file in just a few hours. The resulting format typically includes just a handful of core data fields, plus any other data fields that would provide useful visibility and insights when using the Verity system.
- Location (aisle, bay, position)
- Pallet unique identifier
- Time & date stamp of most recent location transaction
- Time & date stamp of the data query
- Warehouse unique identifier
- Item identifier (often a SKU)
- Item description
- Quantity on hand
- Customer name and/or identifier (if client is a 3PL)
Step 2: Establish a recurring query for the WMS data
Once the content and format of the batch export file is finalized, the WMS analyst schedules a database query to run at a recurring interval. This may be just once a day if the warehouse shift schedule is the same every day, or many times per day if the shift schedule varies daily or weekly. The query defines the areas and scope to be scanned during each drone mission. This typically includes specific racking areas, as well as any areas (such as shipping and receiving) where misplaced pallets identified by the drones should have been placed.
Step 3: Share the data securely with the Verity system
Once the recurring query is in place, the information is sent to the Verity system, typically via a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) connection. The information is then accessible by Verity to compare with the physical data collected by the autonomous drones.
Though quite simple, this method of transferring WMS data is often all that is required to achieve all the benefits of the Verity system. With this method, there are no concerns of WMS inventory data being overwritten by the Verity system.
When is a more advanced integration appropriate?
Though the batch data export method described above meets the needs of most Verity clients, certain client needs may require a more advanced API-based integration. In the retail sector, for example, goods may be stored in warehouses that are adjacent to their stores. In this environment, the need for inventory accuracy in the warehouse is extremely high because the goods are so close to the point of sale. Here, a more immediate and proactive API-based exchange of information that delivers real-time, bi-directional inventory data is appropriate.
Though not always necessary, bi-directional API integration gives users the flexibility to exchange data between the WMS and the Verity system on an as-needed basis. It also is an efficient way to make sure the discrepancies shown by the Verity system are continuously kept in synch with the ongoing warehouse operation. In this way, the discrepancy reports in the Verity dashboard are always kept up to date.
Even in instances where this level of rapid data exchange may be appropriate, Verity typically recommends starting with simple batch exports for the first few installations to understand the ease of use and the benefits that can be achieved with the simple approach. In most cases, our clients have confirmed that API integration is not necessary to achieve value from the Verity system.
Benefits of keeping it simple
Warehouse automation offers the promise of greater efficiency, higher productivity, improved sustainability, and reduced costs. Often, however, reaping those rewards requires significant IT investments that erode the benefits and delay the value of the new automation. Fortunately, complex IT investments are not necessary when implementing the Verity system. In most warehouse environments, a simple batch data export is sufficient to provide the Verity system with the information needed to provide accurate insights. By keeping it simple, Verity helps accelerate every client’s path to fast, accurate inventory management and a zero-error warehouse.
To learn more about how Verity’s autonomous inventory system integrates with your WMS system, get in touch with one of our experts.