Uncategorized

Operationally Considerations for a WMS System

It has been around long enough to be considered one of those “classic debates”: ERP warehouse management module or best-of-breed warehouse management system? One would think that by now this debate would have been settled. The facts and opinions have been examined for well over a decade, surely there must be a clear winner by now. If only it were that simple.

There are many reasons why this debate persists. One of the primary reasons is that companies are made up of departments and people that often have differing, or even conflicting, priorities. Sprinkled in among these differences are often strong opinions.  Opinions are not easily altered and the people that hold them didn’t get to where they are by quickly letting go of theirs in the face of debate.

Another key factor that keeps this debate fresh is the expansion of the dilemma to small and medium size companies. Early in the debate, most of the buzz was around SAP and Oracle ERP versus tier 1 best-of-breed warehouse management systems (WMS). Today, many ERP providers to small and medium businesses (SMBs) are also venturing down the path of expanding their suites to include warehouse management functionality.

Although still playing catch-up, the likes of SAP and Oracle have made gains in the last few years and are closing the functionality gap versus best-of-breed warehouse management systems. Due to a later start, the same cannot be said of ERP providers to SMBs. In this space there still exists a significant gap with respect to warehouse management system functionality. If the debate were solely focused on functionality, it would be short-lived for SMBs. Since there are other factors to consider, the debate endures.

Operationally Considerations: Workers In Warehouse Preparing Goods For Dispatch

The operations team will ultimately use the system to run their business so their primary focus will be on the system’s functionality. They will be looking for a system that not only meets their complex requirements today, but also a system that will enable them to grow, meet new requirements in the future, and that will provide tools to differentiate themselves from the competition.

The operations team will also be looking for a system that will ensure gains in operational efficiency. Maintaining the status quo in this area will be unacceptable. Systems implementations are difficult as there is a learning curve with new technology. Without the real benefits of increased operational efficiency and cost control, operations may resist the change and therefore adoption will be hindered. There will be the pervasive feeling of having fixed something that wasn’t broken.

So let’s take a closer look at functionality. ERP providers to SMB’s are in the early phases of creating warehouse management functionality. Naturally, any software company that is building a new product is going to start with the foundational elements. Just like constructing a building, if there isn’t a sound foundation, then anything else built on will be of no value. This is an important point. While it is clearly necessary to have a solid foundation and it is the correct place to start, it is not where the core value will be delivered from the system.

As an example, take picking rules. A best of breed system will have dozens of different rules that can be applied in each operation. These rules have been built up over time from implementations of the system across many industries and customers. This functionality not only provides a much higher level of flexibility, but it also provides the assurance that the functionality has been exercised and proven in the field many times

Contrarily, an SMB ERP has far fewer options in this area so the customer has a choice, they can make do with the existing functionality and forego the operational efficiency gains; or, they can implement customizations or workarounds each of which will increase cost and risk.

The list is actually quite long when one scrutinizes the functionality gaps between an SMB ERP warehouse module and a best-of-breed warehouse management system.

The following highlights those that will have the biggest impact on the operation:

 WMS Functionality  

Container  Management:

ERP:  Single Level; often only pallet.

Best-In-Breed WMS:  Multiple levels; including nesting (i.e. case on pallet and eaches in cases).

Business Impact:  Multi-level container management enables varied movements to be created and executed in warehouse and provides the ability to ship customers in multiple units of measure .  With multi-level, ASN information can be provided to customers since item level container detail will be available. 

Picking Rules:

ERP-Generally a single sortable code on locations to define pick paths.

Best-In-Breed WMS-Dozens of pre-existing picking rules as well as the ability to create user defined rules.  Some examples include, both Wave and Batch Picking.

Business Impact:  Advanced picking rules enable increased efficiency and inventory accuracy through order batching, optimized pick patterns, and proper execution of inventory strategies (i.e. FIFO).

Put Away Logic:

ERP-Usually a single primary put away location for each product.

Best-In-Breed WMS-Advanced put away logic and the ability to create user defined rules.

Business Impact:  Advanced put away logic ensures better space utilization and increased efficiency through the ability to top off pick locations, segment inventory across zones, and comingling of products.

Value Added Services :

ERP-No ability to preform value added services in base products.

Best-In-Breed WMS-Numerous value added service capabilities such as Kitting/Light Manufacturing.

Business Impact:  The ability to provide value added services for customers fosters innovation, provides operational flexibility and is a key differentiator. 

Ancillary Tools:

ERP-Not available in base product

Best-In-Breed WMS-Integrated functionality  in warehouse management systems such as Dock Scheduling, Transportation Optimization, LTL/Parcel Shipping Integration

Business Impact:  These are key inventory tools in delivering value from the warehouse management system through increased efficiency, and reduced errors from the manual processes

These are but a few important examples where functionality gaps exist. As highlighted in the introduction, if it were solely functionality based, the decision would be easy. However, there are other key stakeholders, so the discussion must move beyond functionality. For the system to deliver value and foster confidence with the operations team, it must function without failure and have near 100 percent up time. That is where the IT team comes into the discussion.

Learn more about Best-In-Breed Warehouse Management Systems

Find about Microsoft Dynamics NAV to AccellosOne WMS Integration

Top reasons to use Accellos Warehouse with Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Please fill out the form below to be directed to the download of the white paper

 

TopAccellosToNAVBenefits

 

First Name (required)

Last Name(required)

Your Email (required)

How Does Accellos Warehouse Management (WMS) Work With Your ERP?

Watch the video below to see how Accellos warehouse works with your ERP such as Microsoft Dynamics, Sage ERP, NetSuite, and others.

Warehouse management systems software

ACCELLOSONE WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (WMS)

Download Accellos Warehouse Brochure Here

AccellosOne Warehouse consists of three editions designed to meet the demanding needs of customers from small to large.  The Collect Edition is aimed at the company looking to extend their paper processes to the wireless world.  Our Manage Edition is built for the organization that wants to start small, but has plans to expand their warehouse processes over time.  And, the Fulfill Edition is designed for the more sophisticated user that needs more control, automation and flexibility in their warehouse.

AccellosOne Warehouse integrates seamlessly with many popular accounting/order-entry packages, including Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP and Infor ERP systems,  and shipping systems to provide the warehousing link in your total supply chain solution.  In addition, AccellosOne Warehouse integrates with the rest of the AccellosOne Supply Chain Suite, making sure all of your applications are getting the right information in real time.  Check out some of the white papers and case studies to see how AccellosOne Warehouse performs in the real world.  Each page has several options to connect with a knowledgeable consultant if you have questions.

ACCELLOSONE WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (WMS)

ACCELLOSONE WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (WMS)

Download Accellos Warehouse Brochure Here

AccellosOne Warehouse Management System acts as the hub of your supply chain solution, integrating accounting/order and shipping software systems, electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, Crystal Reports software, radio frequency and barcode hardware, and warehouse automation equipment. Combining radio frequency and barcode technology with a robust, three-tiered, Internet-based architecture, AccellosOne Warehouse delivers a powerful, scalable and flexible real-time warehouse management system that helps you boost productivity, reduce costs, shorten order fulfillment times, increase customer satisfaction and deliver a rapid return on investment (ROI).

AccellosOne WMS achieves this level of ROI through order accuracy, on time shipping, minimizing inventory carry costs, and decreasing labor costs.  Today’s warehouse managers are consistently finding that 2 to 5% improvement across various performance metrics can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in bottom-line returns to the business.  Using AccellosOne Warehouse you are able to eliminate manual order checking by automating processes to improve your picking and receiving functions, allowing you to process more orders at a much higher level of accuracy.

AccellosOne Warehouse consists of three editions designed to meet the demanding needs of customers from small to large.  The Collect Edition is aimed at the company looking to extend their paper processes to the wireless world.  Our Manage Edition is built for the organization that wants to start small, but has plans to expand their warehouse processes over time.  And, the Fulfill Edition is designed for the more sophisticated user that needs more control, automation and flexibility in their warehouse.

AccellosOne Warehouse integrates seamlessly with many popular accounting/order-entry packages, including Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP and Infor ERP systems,  and shipping systems to provide the warehousing link in your total supply chain solution.  In addition, AccellosOne Warehouse integrates with the rest of the AccellosOne Supply Chain Suite, making sure all of your applications are getting the right information in real time.  Check out some of the white papers and case studies to see how AccellosOne Warehouse performs in the real world.  Each page has several options to connect with a knowledgeable consultant if you have questions.

AccellosOne Warehouse Features and Benefits:

  • Minimize write-downs and write-offs
  • Integration platform between the warehouse and your ERP, order management, ecommerce or purchasing system(s)
  • Wireless Picking and Receiving
  • Order Management
  • Multi-Zone picking
  • Lots/Serial/Expiry management
  • Kitting
  • Container Receiving
  • License Plates
  • Carton Splitting
  • Putaway/Slotting
  • Multi-Location/Site Transfer
  • RMAs
  • Packaging Carousels/Conveyors
  • Multi-Company/3PL
  • Multi-Carrier Shipping Toolkit
  • RFID Toolkit

Improve Shipping Accuracy! (Part 4 of Four Simple Ways to Pay For a WMS)

Shipping accuracy to some companies is an oxymoron and to others a solid part of their business.  So what causes some to struggle and others to excel?  The accuracy of their pick and verification process.  Lets look a little closer.

I was talking with a prospect recently who shared with me that they shipped an average of 600 orders per day and 800 boxes.  He was very proud to tell me that they were 98.6% accurate on their shipping.  Now 98.6% sounds pretty good (especially in a busy disorganized paper driven warehouse) when you think of the fact that they ship 600 orders per day right.  I pointed out to him that means that about 8 orders go out wrong every day.  Industry statistics show it costs $200.00  to fix each mis-shipped order.  So if you do the math that’s $1600.00 per day for this prospect to cover the cost of their mistakes.  If you look at that over the course of one year the total is $83,200.  That’s a Problem.

 

A WMS will virtually eliminate the potential for making these mistakes.  By providing an accurate way to pick orders by scanning the barcodes and verifying the product  being picked is correct you gain tremendous accuracy.  By using a WMS to consolidate orders you can send fewer boxes and save shipping costs. By creating efficient pick paths and picking processes accuracy is increased dramatically.  Many companies find they can eliminate costly, time stealing check processes once a WMS has been implementing without increasing mistakes.  If the shipping process is integrated into the WMS shipping accuracy is improved and much more efficient.

Eliminating mistakes that go out the door to your customers will offset a large portion of the initial investment in a warehouse Management system like Accellos One Warehouse.  To learn more about how A1W can help a business be more profitable check out our dedicated website http://www.warehouse-management-systems-us.com/wp-admin/post-new.php.

Managing Your Labor Costs Pays Off

This is part 3 of my 5 part series on the four simple ways to pay for a warehouse management system. In the first part I listed the four ways and outlined each one.  In part two I covered how better control and accuracy of the inventory can save money and help pay for a WMS.  In part three I will discuss what is arguably your most important asset, your employees.

Here are a few points for you to consider; effectively managing labor costs in most businesses is difficult.  Labor costs account for a huge portion of your cost of doing business.  Arguably your staff in the warehouse can/will make or break your business.

Reducing or reallocating labor is the primary driver for finding the money to pay for a warehouse management solution.   A properly implemented WMS like Accellos One Warehouse can reduce your labor needs, help you reallocate staff and or keep you from needing to bring on more staff to meet growing sales or seasonal fluctuations.  More people mean more problems most of the time.  There is a long list of labor areas  that are strongly impacted by the implementation and use of best practices while deploying a WMS.

From the moment product hits your receiving dock until the invoice is sent for the shipped out items people are involved.  By using a WMS you increase the efficiency and accuracy of the work they do while eliminating the mistakes they will make.  A best of breed WMS should provide useful labor reports that can help you determine who your best people are and who needs help.  When the WMS is integrated tightly to your ERP/accounting/business management software  you can eliminate the costly clerical work.  This allows the people doing this manual data entry to be re-positioned  into areas that will help the company make money not just spend it.  Another plus here is the accuracy factor a WMS provides.  You can also speed up the invoices process which gets you paid in a more timely manner.

Here is an overview of areas of improvement;Workers In Warehouse Preparing Goods For Dispatch

  • Lines picked per shift are improved
  • Fill rates increase
  • Inventory accuracy is dramatically improved
  • Reduced staff and increased work volume
  • Higher pick/pack rates
  • Reduced shipping department needs
  • Shift elimination and or hour reductions
  • Transportation cost are optimized

It is not unusual for a WMS to reduce labor costs by 20 to 30 percent.   Lets look at a simple example.  If your annual labor cost for a staff of 15 warehouse employees including clerical support is $561,000.00 (18.00 per hour loaded, X 2080 per year, X 15 employees) and you save 20% with the implementation of a WMS you would save $112,000.00.  That is huge!  Of course every business is different but I have seen this kind of savings by many of our customers.  Maybe its time you took a good look at what you could save.

My next post will how cover how a WMS saves money by improving shipping accuracy.

Learn more about iCepts Technology Group and the many ways we work daily to help our customers improve their businesses.

Four Simple Ways To Pay For A WMS (Part 2)

In my last post (which I admit was a while ago) I outlined four simple ways a WMS solution can be paid for.  In this post I will discuss the first way, reduced stock.

It may seem obvious that if you reduce your stock levels you would probably save money.  But how to do this without causing disruption to fill rates and customer service is a key issue. With real-time and online data collection that a WMS like Accellos One Warehouse provides, inventory accuracy can be drastically improved.  This leads to a significant improvement in stock location, quantity and lot/serial number accuracy, as well as reduced “buffer” or “safety stock” levels.  If you reduce your inventory value while maintaining adequate stock levels to meet order demand you can save a tremendous amount of money and in addition reduce carrying costs as well.

Lets take a look at a simple example.  Let’s say you carry 5,000,000 dollars of inventory.  And you find a way to reduce that by 4% to 6% Industry average range when implementing a WMS) you could save $200,00 to $300,000.  Carrying cost range from 15% to 25% so if yours is say 20% you will pocket $40,000 to $60,000 dollars.  This will go a very long way in helping you invest in a system that will produce for you these kind of results.

In my next post I will discuss how reducing or reallocating labor will help you pay for a WMS solution.  stay tuned!!

 

4 Simple Ways to Pay for a WMS

Implementing a warehouse management system is one of the biggest “bang for the buck” things a business engaged in the distribution of products can do for their business.  The profits that can be re-captured when a business becomes more efficient and productive can be staggering.  Like wise when a business is not operating at top efficiency, is making to many shipping mistakes and is having problems with inventory accuracy and control it is most likely leaking profits.  Sadly this can happen without knowing it.  If you think all is well because products manage to get out the door in the warehouse it may be time to take a hard look at the warehouse operations.

Many times when talk with a business, they seem to understand the value in a WMS but can’t seem to see how to make the investment needed to pull the trigger and implement a solution.  Here are four areas where a WMS makes a serious impact and can quickly create the return that will pay for a WMS

1. Reduced Stock (Inventory)

2. Reduced or reallocated labor

3. Improved shipping accuracy

4. Reduced space requirements

In the next series of posts we will dig into each of these areas and explore where the money can be found to pay for a WMS solution. For information on our WMS solutions click here.  For more information on iCepts Technology Group and our other technology offerings click here.  

 

Will Your Business Thrive or Wither?

With costs and competition rising faster than ever, only businesses that find new ways to improve and increase value to both their customers and shareholders will survive let only thrive in today’s market.  Only certain activities within a business represent opportunities for adding value to the product or service the business provides.  In general, these activities are profit-generators that can be distinguished from the overhead and support functions of commercial/wholesale distributors web-based retailers and company warehouses.

Value added functions often relate the specifics of a particular business. The following are some value-adding functions that are common to most business and should be familiar to anyone who depends on their warehouse as a critical part of their operation:

  • Kitting Services
  • Marketing and sales
  • Production/operations
  • Inbound logistics
  • Outbound processes

Warehouses are generally seen as  cost-centers to a business and rarely are considered as an area for profit creation.  Yet some businesses have discovered ways to turn their warehouse into a significant competitive advantage.  Of the value-adding functions listed above, inbound/outbound processes relate directly to wholesale distributors or distribution centers.  In addition the quality of these processes along with storing, delivering and moving inventoried products can impact sales, production and services in a positive or negative manner.  In my next post I will discuss warehousing practices in the value chain and how a warehouse management system plays a significant role in creating revenue inside the warehouse.