Archives for WMS Software

Better Inventory Flow with Warehouse Management Systems; Part 5 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 Picking:

The Accellos One Warehouse picking process needs to remain flexible to accommodate widely differing environments.  No two warehouse operations are exactly the same.  Warehouses come in different shapes and sizes. Some are “wide open” in a square shaped space.  Others are contained in buildings on multiple floorsworker holds package in warehouse of forwarding, utilizing elevators to transport materials.  Warehouses will have varying ceiling heights. Some might have yard space.

Materials handling will differ by product shape and size. As a result, the warehouse racking infrastructure will vary by product size.  Many warehouses keep large products in bulk stacks or pallet racks.  While with small products, picking efficiency may be increased by storing smaller products in flow racking or static shelving.

Product velocity and order types also affect warehouse layout and consequently the picking strategies.  Companies that ship single-sku pallets of product to customers will have significantly different warehouse operations than ones that ship trailer loads of mixed-sku pallets (grocery is a good example of this).

Even subtle differences in customer requirements for consumer products wholesalers will have substantial effects on the materials handling and picking. Operations that ship to retail distribution centers will have different fulfillment requirements than those that ship directly to stores.

Accellos One Warehouse has an abundance of picking styles that will accommodate a warehouse manager’s fulfillment strategy independent of warehouse layout, product size, velocity and order characteristics.

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

Contact us for additional questions about Warehouse Management Software

Ways Warehouse Management Systems Increase Inventory Accuracy

The proper movement of inventory in a warehouse is increasing becoming very complicated as there are more demands from your customers and volume.  As more and more transactions occur, so does the odds for errors.  Errors with inventory picking, packing or shipping always equate to loss revenue, increased labor cost and potentially unhappy or lost customers.

Wholesale Distribution organizations frequently turn to technology to solve this supply chain management challenge to keep errors at an absolute minimum through a high inventory transaction accuracy level.  Such a technology exist with Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), which are designed to ensure the highest level of inventory accuracy and efficient inventory flow through the use of advanced inventory tracking software and systems.  Below are some examples of ways warehouse management technology can increase accuracy:Warehouse Man with Scanner

1. Product Codes:  Whether you chose RFID or barcoding as a means of identifying various products, product coding greatly adds to warehouse accuracy. Pickers and packers can simply scan the items they are looking for to fill an order and immediately known if they are correct. This contributes to less accidental switches and confusion when picking and packing order.

2. Product Location:  Using a WMS solution to help design your warehouse for efficiency will help your pickers know exactly where they need to go for a product location. This reduces misplacement of items. In addition, pick times are lessened when items are arranged so that quick turnover products are close to packing and slow moving inventory is placed in lower traffic areas of the warehouse.

3. Inventory Management:  Having exact product codes and locations greatly improve the quality of the inventory data your company has for inventory management. Knowing exactly how many items are in exactly which bins, to be placed in exactly which orders, can aid in managing stock-outs, misplacements, mis-shipments and even potential theft within the warehouse. With better inventory visibility, orders can be sent faster without back-orders and costs can be cut by less inventory loss.

4. Filling Orders:  Knowing exactly where a product is in a warehouse and knowing how many are left in the bin help pickers fill orders faster. Packing can be expedited with fast-moving products closer to packing locations. In addition, scanning products help to get the orders filled correctly the first time and almost completely eliminate returns due to picking and packing mistakes.

5. Bin Replenishment:  With product data made available by scanning, bin replenishment can be made easy. The system keeps track of how many items are in each bin and slot and can be programmed with rules so that certain product numbers never drop below a certain amount. This removes the guessing from the reordering of inventory and the back-order problem when there are not enough items to fill a customer’s order.

6.  Big Retailer EDI:  When supplying products to a large retailer, it is important to provide them with correctly labeled items that will be read by the retailer’s computer system. Having incorrectly formatted labeling or no Advance Shipment Notice can result in the return of the order and a charge-back for that returned order. With product codes and inventory tracking in conjunction with EDI capabilities, order accuracy can be increased to 99.9%.

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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

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.

iStock_000007071837XSmall[1]-001

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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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

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

 

Better Inventory Flow with Warehouse Management Systems; Part 1-Receiving

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.

This document highlights a high-level process flow, derived from a subset of available functionality within Accellos One Warehouse:

• Advanced multi-warehouse, multi-zone and multi-bin managementScanner-001Box3

• Automated goods-receipt processing

• Order management including advanced allocation and pick document distribution

• Pick bin replenishment

• Advanced pick and pack strategies for optimal warehouse performance

• Shipping

Once a purchase order has been entered into your ERP system, it is seamlessly transferred to the WWMS (Warehouse Management Software) where receivers await shipment.  They are armed with wireless mobile computers that have integrated bar code scanners.

After an inbound shipment arrives at the warehouse, the receiving team will typically unload the truck and grab the paperwork to identify which purchase orders are being received.

The first job of the WMS software is to receive items accurately into the warehouse and then reconcile the shipment against the original purchase orders entered into your ERP system.

Rather than using pen and paper to reconcile physical receipts, the receiver will bring up the purchase orders on a handheld computer. Once this is done, the receiver only needs to start identifying the product that is being unloaded (in no particular sequence).

With Accellos One Warehouse Management Systems, the receiver counts down against items being received right off of the container. It validates items against multiple purchase orders in the background, and then seamlessly updates your ERP system. No more paperwork!

Because a receipt is recorded as soon as items are entered into the handheld, stock may be immediately put away to a bin location.

Bin location assignment following receipt may be automatic; stock can be transferred to a temporary receiving location if receipts are to be staged prior to put-away.

Most of the time, stock will be put-away following goods receipt.  If there are backorders waiting for product (standard or non-stock) or there is a “low stock alert,” stock may be put away directly to pick locations. Otherwise, stock handlers will move pallets into bulk locations (typically up in the pallet racks or on floor stacks).

Whether you receive floor loaded containers from overseas or small shipments by common courier, Accellos One Warehouse has tools to enable accurate, efficient receiving:

• Receive multiple orders simultaneously in no sequence, without paperwork

• Scan product bar code or use quick lookup functions to identify products as they are being received

• Print carton or pallet-ID labels as product is being received

• Receive multiple pack-sizes on the fly.

• Cross-dock non-stock items to forward pick locations

• Immediately put product away without staging

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How Goods Move through a Warehouse Correctly 

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:

 

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!!

 

Is your Warehouse Optimized?..Consider these 4 Questions.

  1. Do you know exactly where all your stock(money) is in your warehouse all the time?
  2. Do you have dead stock in your warehouse that you don’t even know about?
  3. Is your company’s revenue decreasing?
  4. Does it take to long to find things in your warehouse or is there only one person in your company that knows where things are?

If you answered yes to any these questions, it may be time to consider Warehouse Management Technologies such as Accellos One Warehouse management System (WMS). Accellos One WMS delivers a powerful, scalable and flexible real-time Warehouse Management System (WMS) for distributors.

Accellos One Warehouse management system has the power to help you with inventory accuracy as well as increase supply chain visibility. Accellos warehouse management system (WMS) 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. 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. 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.

Next Steps:

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