Distribution Centre's need to operate at the highest level of efficiency and utilisation, being responsive to changing customer requirements. An optimised distribution centre relies on the optimum layout to maximise flow, storage and retrievel of inventory at the right cost for your business.
Let our warehouse consultants analyse, verify, design and implement the right automated warehouse solution for your Distribution Centre.
As warehouse managers, do you really understand the true capability of your existing warehouse operation and the cost of poor performance. If capital investment was frozen, which is not uncommon in todays environment, what improvements can be made to raise the capability of the warehouse?
Our warehouse consultants understand the challenges placed on warehouse managers to constantly deliver the impossible for their business, just "Make it happend". With limited investment in capital over the years, some warehouse managers are too fixed on the day to day grind to free up time to look forward, assess improvement opportunities and invest in the warehouse operation. Take a look at a few missed opportunities:
- Inbound deliveries are unplanned and tend to put enormous pressure on receiving personnel to process goods receipt within agreed SLA.
- Product identification standards are not consistent to enable prompt processing of supplier deliveries.
- Mixed drop orders are not on our system, which delays order receipt processing and impacts SLA.
- UOM data is missing and requires manual intervention to allow goods receipt to be completed.
- Shift planning is impossible as too many supplier orders arrive and require immediate processing.
- Stock is not staged in the right area for the putaway crew to process within SLA.
- Putaway items have been placed in the wrong bulk location
- Documentation for the deliveries is missing and slows down the entire goods receipt stage.
- Mixed supplier deliveries are too time consuming to process and put stock away.
- Lack of materials handling equipment is causing processing delays for Putaway.
- Supplier delivery has not been broken down to allow for quick stock replenishment into bulk locations.
- Delays are due to lack of forklift equipment, high reach availability or no forklift equipment on shift.
- Wrong inventory has been placed in the wrong pallet location to support bulk picking.
- Manual pallet labels are not applied to the bulk pallets leaving stock unidentifyable.
- Scanning quipmnent for the bulk racking is not operational due to dead spots and time outs.
- Picker is unable to find the inventory to fill the order as the system shows stock, pick is empty.
- Scanning devices are not communicating with the system due to dead spots.
- Resource scheduling is a manual process and quite reactive to meet customer delivery dates
- There is no pick validation as a secondary check to ensure high pick rates are achieved.
- Despatch labels are printing late and delay the time taken to complee the picking cycle.
- Sortation process is a bottleneck as carton volume is too high for despatch to manage.
- Load consolidation process is challenging as there is no standard methid to build pallets.
- Carton misdirects are high as customer orders are placed on incorrect outbound pallets.
- Weights and measures are not recorder accurately and impact on the final truck weight.
- Connote process is manually intensive and delays the final despatch timeframe.
Warehouse Systems ERP, WMS and RF
Warehouse management systems have enabled organisations to achieve enormous advances in efficiency and utilisation. A WMS provides your warehouse with a engine that drives productivity by being able to translate requirements from an ERP system to a language that warehouse operations and personnel can understand. As an ERP system manages order management data and inventory management at a macro level, the WMS provides that extra layer of details that warehouse operations require.
Wave capability allows for order consolidation to support batch picking or descrete picking which improves order cycle time and resource utilisation. Integration with transport systems can improve load consolidation, freight volume and cost optimisation opportunities. When set up correctly, your WMS modules provide broad functionality that controls the flow of materials, resources, equipment and data to provide your customers with the highest order fulfilment levels.
A location system can be established to support multiple locations from pick, bulk or overflow. Locations are defined by type which classifies the availability of single or multiple products. Rules based logic can be applied to define multiple pick and replenishment paths to optimise resource and equipment utilisation levels against cycle-times. Regular review provides the ability to improve storage utilisation by mining data to improve stock placement and slotting requirements for different warehouse storage systems.
Most warehouse management systems will support inventory tracking capability, the two primary mechanisms being barcodes and RFID tags. The WMS system requires a uniform standard to be implemented throughout a warehouse operation to provide a full end to end inventory tracking solution. Products mostly arrive with barcodes on single SKU's or at pack size level, while others need to have a label applied manually time of receipt into the warehouse. From this point your inventory is tracked from receiving, put-away, picking, replenishment to final invoice.
Receiving and Putaway
Advanced systems can be supported by a bookings process that manages the release and arrival of ASN's into your warehouse. Timeslot vendor management allows for smoothing vehicle arrival times to utilise your inbound resources and MHE's. ASN's are converted to internal booking documents which store order level data, sku, description, pack size and qty's. Products are scanned during receipt and guided for put-away by location control logic or fed directly to a processing destination such as a cross dock requirement or pick location.
Picking and packing
Orders are released via a wave planning module which has the ability to allocate multiple levels of priority to pick slips. As the primary level is usually date based, the main objective is to release a load of picking slips that will give the both picking and packing teams the chance to complete all work within a standard shift at the right cost to serve. Smarter systems are even able to release work using hourly windows, which means that orders can be grouped for more efficient and responsive fulfilment targets. This is the real benefit of a fully integrated WMS with wave planning logic.
As the system is real time, the WMS has the ability to dissect any aspect of the order workflow to provide detailed analysis and review. Common forms of measurement applied in a warehouse included: utilisation controls on resources and equipment, cycle-time processing of vendor orders, transfer, receipts, cross dock orders, picking, replenishment and load build at pallet or vehicle level. Space utilisation for all types of storage systems to ensure that stock is being stored and processed at the lowest cost possible for the business.
Supply chain simulation
Allows our warehouse consultants to develop a warehouse model to view your warehouse operation in a virtual setting. This creates the opportunity to develop a range of scenarios that will assist in developing a future state distribution centre. Most of the problem area's identified above can be addressed through the use of warehouse simulation modelling as a stand alone application or fully integrated with your ERP/WMS. Some clear benefits that can take your distribution operation to the next level:
- Receiving function's inbound order profile becomes more visible and dictates the time and effort for equipment and resources to support inbound due dates.
- The release cycletime of inventory is reduced between receiving and putaway through improved equipment load balancing.
- Picking and replenishment processes can be synchronised where one's success is a function of the other (High Fill rate = High pick rate).
- Despatch workloads can be balanced from crossdock through to final outbound load completion.
- Greater resource visibility at a site level creating an opportunity to manage casual labour costs more effectively.
- Outbound transportation routes are planned and more efficient, which create opportunities for cost recovery.
Feel free to contact our office for advice or to discuss any specific project requirements.