Warehouse Management Systems

The Importance of Warehouse Inventory Accuracy

As supply chains continue to get more automated to streamline inventory, through the use of technology and utilizing best practices in operations, accuracy naturally beings to improve.  However, not every warehouse is automated and for various reason, If the physical inventory “on the books” and the physical inventory in a warehouse do not match, the situation is often chaotic.  For example, when a picker goes to retrieve a part and it is not there (or not enough is there), a series of manual checks and back tracking must be completed to fix the problem and get the order out the door.   The importance of warehouse inventory accuracy cannot be underestimated when you consider that your inventory could be the largest asset to a company.  Inaccurate inventory record accuracy results in having wide impact on other system  and areas in warehousing including:

  • Poor buying practices and excess safety stock associated to buyers lack of confidence in record accuracy.
  • Delays in order fulfillment associated to lost or misplaced product.
  • Lost sales due to stock outs and over commitments.
  • Costs associated to placing and managing back orders.
  • Lower labor productivity associated to searching for lost product.
  • Potentially higher freight costs resulting from expediting shipments to customers.

These issues could result in excess inventory, which ties up capital and negatively impacts capacity. The results are higher costs, low productivity and bad customer service. The self-checking nature of  advanced warehousing technology such as Warehouse Management Systems or WMS, in addition to a good cycle counting program, ensures inventory accuracy of 99+%. This high level of inventory accuracy is the foundation for a majority of the other benefits realized in using a WMS.

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Benefits Gained from Warehouse Management Systems-WMS

End-to-End Supply Chain Management Technology is becoming more common to have a unified method to fully optimize the follow of inventory in an organization.  A big contributor for optimization can be achieved through utilizing Warehouse Management Systems as part of this total supply chain solution.  Warehouse Management Systems, WMS, can seamless integrate with popular ERP technology to achieve this result.

HighJump Warehouse Edge (formerly AccellosOne) delivers a powerful, scalable and flexible real-time Warehouse Management System (WMS) for distributors.  HighJump WMS has the power to help your supply chain management objectives from the following benefits.

  1. Increase supply chain visibility:  HighJump Warehouse Systems integrates seamlessly with many popular accounting/order-entry packages and shipping systems to provide the warehouse link in a total supply chain solution. By integrating with leading accounting packages, warehouse automation equipment and shipping systems, you connect your warehouse to the rest of your supply chain. The seamless transfer of information between your systems means more efficient invoicing, order tracking and purchasing for your distribution operation.
  2. Streamline your warehouse processes:  By using the latest in Radio Frequency (RF), RFID and barcode technology to automate your warehouse processes, you can find, pick and pack inventory in the most efficient manner possible. This means that you will be shipping the right items, in the right cartons, to the right customers, on time, every time from your warehouse. Inventory accuracy is key.
  3. Improve your customer service:  By giving your customer service staff, sales team and even your customers a window into the warehouse using web-based warehouse management system technology, you allow them to track and trace the status of inventory and orders resulting in fewer customer calls and better managed sales expectations.
  4. Decrease Labor Cost:  Through Warehouse Automation , including a standard way of warehouse operations, you be sure that you are utilizing both technology and labor in the most efficient manner possible with the potential of enormous savings from a “paper driven” warehouse with little or no guidance for efficiency.
  5. Ensure Inventory Accuracy:  By selecting and upgrading  to an electronic Warehouse Management System from a “Paper-Driven” Warehouse, you can obtain an extremely high level of accuracy across along all warehouse processes and run your warehouse operations in the best manner possible.

Learn more about HighJump Warehouse Management Systems

Managing Warehouse Space Better with Warehousing Technology

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are designed with savings in mind to manage your inventory in the most efficient manner possible.  However, additional benefits can be recognized in other areas, such as cost saving associated with reduced labor and administrative costs, plus also an increase in customer service levels.  Another area as well includes both efficiency gains and reduced cost is in the area of better space management for your warehouse.

Consider the following. Can you eliminate or minimize the need for outside storage?  If so, you have the direct savings of reducing lease cost (normally on a $ per sq ft basis), insurance, and possibly transportation costs. Depending on the size, complexity and activity of the off-site storage, you may even be able to save labor costs associated with managing and transporting the inventory back and forth. Improvements in space utilization generally range from 5-15%.

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) tracks every location and knows where each product and quantity received should be stored. Put-away can be directed to maximize space utilization, minimize put-away travel, minimize pick travel, or some combination. The WMS knows the size and weight of each item, case and pallet, and the physical constraints of each location.

Material is placed in an appropriate location based on these criteria and other pre-configured put-a-way rules pertaining to forward pick location replenishment, product velocity, storage requirements, etc. Space utilization improvements are generally step functions. In a typical situation where the distribution infrastructure is owned, the creation of empty space in the warehouse produces no real benefit. The amount of space made available must be enough to provide for other activities.

For instance, if 500 ft2 are freed up, this will provide very little benefit. If, however, 5,000 ft2 becomes available, several alternatives can be presented for the new space. For internal space savings, if enough space is made available to avoid new construction expansion or a green field site, this can be directly qualified as a cost avoidance.

For example, if enough new space is available to be used for light manufacturing, value added services, offices, etc., this can be classified as a savings. If the new space can be subleased, this can also be classified as an incremental cash inflow. However, you must also consider the potential cost of refurbishing the facility as required by the potential tenant. Additionally, location utilization is improved by using a WMS. A non-automated operation is generally considered at capacity when 80% of the locations are being used at any given time.

With a WMS, operating capacity can be increased to 95+%. This improvement is due primarily to the WMS’s ability to continually manage inventory consolidations, re-warehousing activities, and mixed item locations.

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Warehouse Management Systems Guide

When evaluating different technology for better supply chain optimization, a Warehouse Management Systems Guide can help answer questions regard functionality, expected benefits and return on investment. A successful Warehouse Management System (WMS) implementation can provide a quick ROI, serve as a foundation for instituting a continuous improvement culture and facilitates on-going annual benefits, plus greatly increase the efficiency of flow of goods in and out of the warehouse.  For some companies, justification in a WMS is a matter of survival. Having the right material available at the right place and at the right time is no longer enough. In today’s economy potential requirements include:

  • Compliance LabelingBeautiful and happy female boss in warehouse
  • Floor Ready Displays
  • Advanced Ship Notices (ASN)
  • Postponement
  • Light manufacturing
  • Collaboration
  • Unique Customer Demands
  • And More!

Leading companies are realizing information has a specific shelf life value that diminishes over time, often by the hour or minute. Many of the processes and activities being managed and monitored by Supply Chain Event Management (SCEM) applications relate directly to warehouse operations. As the focus on SCEM applications continues to grow, the need for real-time activity tracking and inventory visibility offered by a WMS becomes even more critical to your organization.

Regardless of your perceived need for a WMS, an effective campaign to procure and implement a new system could depend on a solid business case. A good business case will include both tangible quantitative dollar justifications and the qualitative, intangible benefits difficult to enumerate. This paper introduces a tool to use when developing a project justification, identifies benefit categories for potential inclusion in the business case, and discusses areas of opportunity within the various benefit categories

A sound business case is critical to obtaining the management and employee support so important to a successful system implementation. The business case will consist of two components;

1) A Financial Business Case

2) Narrative explaining the assumptions behind justification estimates and providing an accurate picture of the intangible benefits.

A business case is a cost/benefit analysis aligning the project goals, costs, and risks to the company’s business objectives and financial expectations. The bottom line, the value of the benefits over the life of the project, normally 3-5 years, should exceed the total investment of the project over the same planning horizon.

This detailed guide will review both the tangible and intangible benefits associated with Warehouse Management Systems in addition to Return On Investment (ROI) financial considerations:

Download the Guide for Considering Warehouse Management Systems:

How Warehouse Technology can Help Reduce Inventory Errors

Companies, such as Wholesale Distributors, that carry a lot of inventory realize that mistakes are extremely expensive.  Mistakes cost your customer’s productivity, time, money lost sales and customer dissatisfaction.  It costs you lost productivity, lost sales, lost freight and shipping costs, inventory problems and the distinct possibility of lost customers. A small simple error can cost your company in a big way by a loss of future income from customer who is not happy.  New customers are hard to come by so taking care of the ones you have is imperative.  Mistakes are a very big problem for distributors whose net profits are already razor thin. It is imperative, therefore, to find ways and methods for reducing inventory errors with warehouse technology.Tracking Labor Management

What does your customer want? The product(s) they ordered, on time, in the quantity they needed, delivered as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

In manually, “paper-driven” run warehouses it is very possible to reduce mistakes by creating rigid processes that while they may work at reducing mistakes greatly increases your overhead and reduces productivity.  Many of the manual processes I see distributors using look good on paper but when the orders begin to pile up shortcuts are taken and many of the steps that are in place get overlooked in order to ship the orders.

A well implemented warehouse management system will help you create highly efficient processes for handling inventory and picking orders that will eliminate the inefficiencies and mistake riddled processes that plague most distributors.  This will enhance your customer satisfaction numbers and most likely help you attract new customers without adding to your workforce.

Happy customers and lower costs equal higher profits.  Inventory is probably one of your biggest assets as a distributor; what not optimize the entire shipping, receiving, picking, and packing process to streamline the flow of inventory in and out of your warehouse.

Learn more here about Warehouse Management Systems Features:

Posted by iCepts Technology Group, Inc. An Accellos Highjump Warehouse Management System Partner in Pennsylvania.

 

Achieve over 99% Picking Accuracy with WMS

Warehouse Management System (WMS) allow you optimize your business processes, space and labor in order to achieve tremendous inventory movement efficiency.  Warehousing technology can have a surprising short return on investment (ROI) once fully implemented and utilized along a company’s warehouse(s).

Although there are typically “non-quantitative” results from choosing a Warehouse Management System such as a boost in customer service levels, for example, or keeping personnel cost down and an increase in warehouse operations.   There are, however, several measurable numbers on how this technology can help the movement of goods in your warehouse such as:

Order Accuracy:  Achieving over 99% AccuracyWarehouse Man with Scanner

Outbound Shipments:  Volume increases 15%; double your orders per day Inventory

Accuracy: Over 99% and up to 85% less inventory loss

Picking Times and Lines:  Reduced time 20% and triple number of lines picked

Directed Put-away: Replenish accuracy over 99%

In addition, Warehouse Management Systems generally have seamless Integrations to many Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP) and other supply chain management technology such as EDI solutions.

Warehousing technology, such as HighJump AccellosOne WMS, can play a vital role in completing and optimizing your supply chain to achieve a total optimize solution with measurable results.  In our technology-driven business environment, customers are increasing demanding these solutions to properly support their requirements.

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Posted by iCepts Technology group, Inc. An Accellos Warehouse Management Systems partner in Pennsylvania.

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

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

Big Gains in Inventory Management Accuracy using Small Bar Codes

Have you ever given the bar code label much thought about it’s origin and what is can do? The barcode label is everywhere and it is no longer just a bunch of odd shaped vertical lines with numbers under them.  Today you can store a tremendous amount of information in a small rectangular shaped bar code.  Retailers have been scanning bar codes at check outs for years.  But how are they used in conjunction with a warehouse management system and more important why?  In the below concise post, we will focus on how this small wonder can give you big gains in inventory management using small bar codes.

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The bar code label is the key or backbone of the proper and efficient movement of inventory in the supply chain.  Along with Warehouse Management Systems, or WMS, the advanced technology can dramatically increase the overall accuracy of your inventory.  The second product hits your dock to be received you begin using the bar code on the product to receive it into inventory and track it throughout its life in your warehouse.  If you receive product that does not have a barcode you can print one for it based on the information you want to be imbedded in it.  Barcodes can hold quite a lot of info, item numbers and lot numbers to mention a couple.

Once we have scanned the bar code during the receiving process we then can put the product away, move it, replenish pick bins and pick it using the bar code on the item.  Inventory never gets lost.  You can always see what you have and where it is in the warehouse.  Bar coding keeps your inbound staff from making mistakes by not receiving the correct items and keeps your pick staff from making mistakes by not picking the correct items.  Your material handlers keep from making mistakes like moving the wrong items to the wrong location or replenishing the wrong pick bin. Bar codes make cycle counting the inventory a snap and this allows you to stop doing time consuming and expensive physical inventories.

This is all tied together by the warehouse management system which tracks all the work and movement in the warehouse of your products and people and delivers the correct real time pertinent information back to your ERP system.

WMS solutions like Accellos One Warehouse are all about cost savings.  These savings can be added directly back into the business. This is crucial in today’s business market.  The bar code, no matter how simple or complex it needs to be, is at the center of these savings.

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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.