Warehouse Management Systems Functionality

The Top 10 Benefits of Warehouse Management Technology

Your existing Business Management or Enterprise (ERP) system’s control of warehouse functionality could be somewhat limited or non existent. In order to achieve a greater control over the flow of inventory while optimizing your supply chain for efficiency, warehouse technology such as HighJump Warehouse Edge can help your company reach these goals. This post will briefly touch on 10 benefits to warehouse management technology.

HighJump Warehouse Edge (formerly 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 HighJump WMS, you are able to eliminate manual order checking by automating processes to improve your picking and receiving functions, which allows you to process more orders at a much higher level of accuracy.

HighJump WMS integrates seamlessly with many popular accounting/order-entry packages, including Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP, NetSuite ERP Business Management Solutions and shipping systems to provide the warehousing link in your total supply chain solution.

HighJump Warehouse Management Systems WMS Benefits Include:

  1. Seamless integration: Over a dozen ERPs straight to your WMS and EDI solutions
  2. Order accuracy:  Achieve over 99%+ accuracy
  3. Outbound shipments: Volume increases 15%, double your orders per day
  4. Employee productivity: Improve productivity and keep personnel costs low
  5. Picking times & lines: reduce travel time 20% and triple number of lines picked
  6. Directed putaway: Replenishment accuracy over 99%
  7. Increased speed of warehouse operations
  8. Low TCO (total cost of ownership) Compared to Alternatives
  9. Built for Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMB)
  10. ROI within 4-12 Months

Learn more about the benefits of Warehouse Management Systems here.

Request a free estimate on Warehouse Management Systems

Posted by iCepts Technology Group, A HighJump Warehouse Edge partner in Pennsylvania

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

3 Warehouse Management Fundamentals for better Automation

In the tough global economy that we find ourselves in, companies are increasingly looking for tools to help them do more with less. It’s not OK anymore to simply get the job done, we have to find ways to continue to increase responsiveness, drive down cost and not grow resources at the same time. Not a job for the faint of heart!

Automating operations in your warehouse attacks many of the variable costs that a distribution company or center controls:

1. Labor

2. Physical space

3. Inventory

This post addresses how automating warehouse processes, such in Warehouse Management Systems, can help companies like yours do more with less. It focuses on how system directed processes, like put away, can allow you to maximize the use of your warehouse labor pool, improve the utilization of your warehouse space and assist you in stocking and locating your high velocity items.

Fundamentals of Warehouse Automation:

Let’s start with ensuring that we’re speaking a common language. Many people view the use of a handheld computer as warehouse automation. In some respects, it is hard to argue with that definition as they are unquestionably taking intelligence to the warehouse floor. But, it doesn’t truly provide the gains that can be achieved through the use of a fully featured warehouse system. Generally, warehouse automation falls into three categories:

1. Automated data collection – the use of handheld computer to “record” manually assigned activities on the warehouse floor. Examples would be picking, receiving and counting.

2. Warehouse management – the use of business rules and algorithms to determine the optimal way of picking, receiving, storing and counting and the subsequent of assignment of those tasks by the system to individuals using handheld computers in the warehouse

3. Warehouse control or automation – the incorporation of sophisticated hardware, such as conveyors, diverters, carousels, vertical lift stations, etc, to supplement the capabilities of warehouse workers in completing system directed tasks

System Directed Putaway:

We’re going to focus on the benefits to be gained through the use of definable business rules that drive putaway activities in the warehouse.

Putaway is normally thought of as the process of moving received inventory from its current location (the dock, kitting area, or production department) to a bin or overstock location. The putaway process is also used to relocate inventory within the warehouse and to replenish dedicated bins with inventory from overstock. System directed putaway is when the system recommends or chooses the optimal destination bin rather than the operator selecting it.

While the benefits are numerous, from better management of returns to improved customer service, these are the areas that users typically find:

1. Improved use of labor

a. By utilizing predefined business rules, the system eliminates the guess work that a warehouse worker goes through today to locate a bin

2. What partially full bin could this item fit in?

3. How close is this bin to other locations for this item?

4. Based upon the velocity of this item, where should it be located to minimize picking time?

a. The picking process becomes more efficient because all products follow the business rules developed to maximize utilization AND effectiveness of storage

b. The time it takes a new warehouse worker to become effective dramatically diminishes. They don’t need to fully understand nor appreciate the physical layout of the warehouse nor do they need to be familiar with the extensive product catalog that a company may have

5. Maximized use of physical space

a. By following the predefined business rules, the system will better allocate physical space to allow for more products and if needed increased quantities of existing products within the existing space available

b. The system will create a better plan for sensitive items like those that are lot-controlled, serial tracked, hazmat, etc.

While most directed putaway systems allow for a virtually unlimited set of business rules to be defined, there are typically a few key factors that drive the rules:

1. The product or product categories utilization

a. Is the product a raw material that is used in kitting or production? If so, locating it near the production facility along with its peer products will drive better effectiveness in the warehouse

b. Is the product a replacement part used in a warranty and repair operation? Same logic as production. Locate it near the repair facility and minimize the physical movement of the goods within the warehouse

c. Is the product typically sold in “eaches?” If so, locating it in a high velocity location such as a carousel would be advisable

d. Is the product generally shipped on a sales order? And, do sales orders usually include a mix of vendors? If shipments are usually homogeneous by vendor, organizing your warehouse around vendor specific guidelines will net positive results. And, directed put-away rules can systematically enforce that organization

2. The type of packaging and storage requirements for a product

a. Does the product require special handling such as refrigeration?

b. Is the product stored in large spools or in bundles (i.e. lumber)?

c. Is the product typically sold by the case or by the pallet?

d. Does the product have specific weight characteristics that require specialized racking or storage?

3. The product or product category’s sales velocity

a. Does the product have a high number of bin hits, but a limited quantity sold?

b. Does the product have a minimal number of bin hits, but a high quantity sold?

c. Is the product “held” for one specific customer or group of customers?

d. Do different packages of a product exhibit different sales velocity?

In Summary:

A warehouse manager’s job is to ideally locate all of the products within a warehouse taking all of these factors into consideration. You can imagine the level of difficulty when you try to accomplish this manually. A directed put-away system allows you to build rules by product, product category or product and packaging to accommodate the parameters that we’ve just discussed. It allows the warehouse manager to nest rules – meaning that there is a primary rule that would ideally be applied, but in the case where that rule can’t be adhered to there can be secondary or tertiary rules that apply.

At the end of the day, the directed put-away systems’ job is to assess the available space in the warehouse and direct the warehouse worker to locate the product (either initially from receiving, from replenishment or by a move) to the bin that best meets the rules that the warehouse.

Learn more about Warehouse Management Systems 

Better Inventory Flow with Warehouse Management Systems; Part 4-Wave Picking

From order entry to fulfillment, Accellos One Warehouse works together with your ERP system to provide the end-to-end solution for the materials handling management and real-time inventory visibility throughout the enterprise.  Accellos One integrates with many popular ERP systems including the Microsoft Dynamics Suite of ERP Systems. The following highlights a high-level process flow, derived from a subset of available functionality within Accellos One Warehouse  focusing on Wave Functionality and Picking:

Once an order is ready to pick, it may be issued for picking using the Wave function.

Worker Scanning Package In Warehouse

Worker Scanning Package In Warehouse

The Warehouse Manager will typically sort and select order groups for picking using the Sales Order Grid, then issue the orders for picking using the Wave function.   As a result, warehouse managers have unlimited flexibility when determining their picking strategies:

• Order lines may be split by pack-size for optimal productivity (pallet quantities picked from pallet locations, units from pick-bins).

• Customer specific labels may be printed for EDI / ASN compliance and integrated into the pick process. UCC128 serial container codes are created and scanned to build a detailed pallet or carton level ASNs.

• Orders may be grouped together for picking directly into serialized shipping cartons.

• Batch pick documents may be issued to enable the picking of multiple orders simultaneously with subsequent break-down in an order staging area.

• Paper pick-tickets may be printed for paper picking, with scanpack validation.

• Pick documents may be printed in multiple zones for simultaneous zone picking.

• One label per unit/carton/pallet may be printed with a bin location for ‘label picking’

Once the pick strategy has been determined, Accellos One Warehouse will print picking documents according to the configured rules; pickers will be directed to the pre-assigned pick locations that were automatically assigned during the allocation process.

To guarantee accuracy, hand held computers should be used during the picking process to validate the picked product and its bin location as well as the shipping container / sales order.

Finally, packing slips are printed as a result of the workflow defined in Accellos One Warehouse. Packing slips may be printed after the last item on the order has been picked or once the shipment has been scanned before loading on to a truck.

Download the entire White Paper: How Goods Flow Through the Warehouse

Contact us for additional questions about Warehouse Management Software

Better Inventory Flow with Warehouse Management Systems; Part 3-Order Management

From order entry to fulfillment, Accellos One Warehouse works together with your ERP system to provide the end-to-end solution for the materials handling management and real-time inventory visibility throughout the enterprise.  Accellos One integrates with many popular ERP systems including the Microsoft Dynamics Suite of ERP Systems. The following highlights a high-level process flow, derived from a subset of available functionality within Accellos One Warehouse  focusing on Order Allocation.

Warehouse allocation is responsible for the logical reservation of product for sales orders. Allocation may be based on specific criteria such as FIFO, LIFO, FEFO, batch, pack-size, zone and warehouse.Above Warehouse Pic

As items are received into the warehouse, they are immediately available for order allocation, eliminating any time delay or sequencing issues between receipts, receipt confirmation and pick-list creation.

While orders may be allocated on a first come first serve basis, the warehouse manager will more likely want to assert control over the warehouse process by prioritizing which orders are selected for allocation using the Sales Order Grid.

After an order is allocated it will fall into one of several statuses, depending on the availability of inventory and where the inventory is located in the warehouse. A few common examples include:

Held Short– There is not enough stock to satisfy the order

Ready to Wave– There is enough stock and the order is ready for picking

Held for Replenishment– There is enough stock, but there is not enough units in pick locations to fill the order, a replenishment task needs to be completed before the order can be picked.

Learn more about Warehouse Management Systems Functionality here

Request a free Estimate on WMS Software

Posted by iCepts Technology Group, Inc. A Pennsylvania Partner for Accellos One Warehouse Management Systems 

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

Better Inventory Flow with Warehouse Management Systems; Part 2-Order Management

From order entry to fulfillment, Accellos One Warehouse works together with your ERP system to provide the end-to-end solution for the materials handling management and real-time inventory visibility throughout the enterprise.  Accellos One integrates with many popular ERP systems including the Microsoft Dynamics Suite of ERP Systems. The following highlights a high-level process flow, derived from a subset of available functionality within Accellos One Warehouse  focusing on Order Management.

Forklift in warehouse-2

Sales orders placed by phone, fax or email are typically entered into your ERP system manually using the Sales Order Entry function. Orders may also be placed using a B2B (Business to Business) e-commerce web-site, remote sales through mobile devices or by EDI.

As a result of sales orders being entered into your ERP system, the warehouse management software is immediately updated.

Accellos One Warehouse is now responsible for orchestrating the order management activities. This is the prioritization of stock allocation and the assignment of work in the warehouse. The effectiveness of these tasks is critical to the efficiency of the warehouse and the service level that it provides.

Order management with Warehousing Software, is a dynamic process that requires the flexibility to accommodate many different warehousing styles. Some sales orders need to be immediately released for today’s pick run. Some may be held for a future date with or without stock reservations. Orders may be prioritized by backorder status, preferred customer status, fill rate, pick-up time, and truck route or by date. There are countless criteria by which orders are prioritized, allocated and released for picking.

Learn more about Warehouse Management Systems Functionality here

Request a free Estimate on WMS Software

Posted by iCepts Technology Group, Inc. A Pennsylvania Partner for Accellos One Warehouse Management Systems 

 

Making Room In Your Warehouse

Space management is a big deal!  Your warehouse (or vault as I like to refer to it) has only so many square feet.  You need to utilize the space to its fullest potential.  In part 5 of my series of blogs on the 4 simple ways to pay for a warehouse management system I will discuss how a WMS (warehouse management system) can help you use your space and save you money.large warehouse

A WMS should improve space usage through improved inventory placement and tracking.  Because the WMS gives you a full view of your warehouse and where your items are, which ones are moving and which ones aren’t you can manipulate your stock with ease.  Putting the fast items in locations that are readily available for picking and replenishment.  You will have full visibility of where empty slots or bins are in order to put products away.  You can mix pallets and use pallet license plates to identify with one scan what is stored on the pallet in the slot it is assigned to.  This can be a big space saving technique.  Here are some other areas where savings can be derived

  • Eliminate existing overflow space  (this is usually a second location used solely to store items that won’t fit in your main location)
  • Reduced transport costs with elimination of overflow space
  • Avoid or greatly delay new construction of additional space or move to bigger space

When you can use the space you have more efficiently this allows you to reduce the space used for existing inventory.  Because a WMS allows you to reduce your on hand inventory levels this saves you money in carrying costs and purchases.

We had one customer put off the need to build on to their distribution center by nearly 4 years.  And when they did it was in order to do more fulfillment work which had a very positive impact on their profits.  Warehouse space is expensive so use what you have in the best possible way.  A WMS will certainly help you do this.

It a Matter of Time

Over the last 5 posts I have reviewed the 4 simple ways a WMS can be paid for.  The time for achieving a return on investment (ROI) of an investment in a warehouse management solution should be very short.  Many companies find that the system can pay for itself in as little as 6 to nine months.  A good average to plan on is 12 to 18 months.  Once you have reached the break even point all the found money flows directly to your bottom line and it can be thousands of dollars each month.  What could you do to grow your business with an extra 5 or 10 or 20,000 dollars each and every month.

Wouldn’t You Like to Know

As you can see a warehouse management solution reduces labor costs, improves space utilization and reduces inventory cost.  The big question to ask yourself is “By how much”.  Each business is different, you should investigate how a WMS would fit into you business.  We recommend that you work with a company with a great deal of experience in how a WMS works and how a warehouse operations functions.  We suggest engaging with a organization that will collect, compile and total all the information and provide you with a sound useful and believable ROI.  Once you have done this the decision to purchase and implement a WMS should be very clear.

Find out more about Warehouse Management Systems by contacting us here: