Archives for Warehouse Inventory Management Systems

Warehouse Management Automation Benefits

Warehouse Management Systems are becoming more popular as supply chain logistics continue to develop with ever more complicated requirements that effect warehousing along with increasing customer demands.  With an expanding volume of inventory movement, many organizations are turning to technology to streamline operations and meet these challenges.

With advanced functionality through Warehouse Management Systems, WMS technology allows companies to respond to evolving market pressures and deliver on ever-shrinking time to delivery windows.

These system are designed to create highly efficient processes for handling inventory and picking orders that will eliminate the inefficiencies and mistake riddled processes that plague most manual-driven warehouses or absent warehousing functionality systems.

Another result of WMS technology is the ability to  enhance your customer satisfaction numbers and most likely help you attract new customers without adding to your workforce.

This post can give you some insight into how Better Warehouse Management Strategies through Automation are key to meeting the demands of a  modern business supply chain logistics  environment along with reaching your organizations goals.

Warehouse Management Automation Benefits:

Enhanced Productivity:

Utilize advanced functionality to increase inventory turns and provide detailed worker accountability, resulting in heightened productivity and maximized efficiency. Optimized warehouse processes reduce picking time and product touches by allowing you to seize cross-docking opportunities. It also minimizes travel paths with slotting/re-slotting functionality, optimizes picking execution with user-configured algorithms, and intelligently directs put-away to the appropriate bins based on product handling characteristics. Furthermore, our solutions virtually eliminate the need for non-value-added activities such as manual checking and shipment audits.

Achieve Up to 99%+ Inventory Accuracy:

Through robust cycle counting capabilities, real-time information confirmation and verification, our solution gives your employees and their managers immediate feedback on work accuracy. An accurate system ensures workers are not looking for missing inventory or overloading any given location. This also helps you avoid costly errors.

Boost On-Time and Complete Shipments:

The accurate order picking functionality “best-inbreed” WMS systems allows you to deliver complete orders on time. Increased fill rates and decreased cycle times enable you to avoid costly shipping delays and backorders that jeopardize valuable customer relationships. In addition, overall process efficiency decreases cycle time, resulting in more on-time shipments.

Warehouse Space Optimization:

HighJump Warehouse Edge provides directed stock rotation, intelligent picking directives, automatic consolidation, and cross- docking to maximize the use of valuable warehouse space. The system also directs and optimizes put-away based on accurate, real-time information about the status of bin utilization.

Reduce Shrinkage and Spoilage:

Better Warehouse Management Systems solution facilitates real-time monitoring and enforces FIFO (first-in, first out) rotation to reduce spoilage. In addition, high levels of worker accountability empower you to detect shrinkage problems

Exceed Customer Expectations:

Another benefit, sometimes intangible, is to empowered to consistently deliver on customer promises with the ability to reduce cycle times, stock-outs and backorders; improve order accuracy and on-time shipments; and offer unique services

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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.

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Find about Microsoft Dynamics NAV to AccellosOne WMS Integration

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.

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