About Kurt Hatlevik

I appreciate that I can be a part of this worldwide blog community—as a consultant working from Norway, the blog lets me share more than 20 years of experience with Microsoft Dynamics 365. Along the way, I participated in developing retail, PDA/RF, barcoding, master data, kitting and WMS-solutions for Dynamics. My blog focuses on my deepest interests and expertise: along with a 360 degree view of digital transformation topics, I welcome opportunities to dive into retail and intercompany supply chain automation, logistics, and production—everything that is moving around in a truly connected enterprise. As Enterprise Architect on Dynamics 365, I specialize in strategic development and planning for corporate vertical solutions and works to build international networks that increase knowledge and understanding for Dynamics 365. As an advocate for both providers and customers, I'm committed to ensure that customers constantly changing needs are meet, and I see community as key for increasing expertise. I welcome you to connect with me.

To-Increase Warehouse Management and Distribution R2 is ready for release

It has been a long time since I last had the chance to write about the WM&D.  But now a major release is ready.  The last months there has been a lot of implementations, and it is greate to see the positive response we get from the customers.  The WM&D is now setting focus on adding WMS and distribution value to the new Dynamics AX for retail, that Microsoft is launching in august.   

 

2. What’s new?

2.2.1 Standard, professional, and enterprise editions.

To support different distribution scenario, the WM&D is now offered in 3 different editions.

Standard edition – is a value offer to small to medium enterprises, and focuses on the traditional processes like receive, picking packing and shipping.

Professional edition – is used for every day distribution centers, and is extended with support of cross-docking, license plates, kitting and VAS.

Enterprise edition – is multi site distribution centers that often have yard management, mini load, conveyor systems, transportation planning and EDI integrations for both inbound and outbound.

More details of the different editions is available on the To-Increase partner portal, or contact your Partner Account manager.

2.2.2 Full support for WMS processes

The main theme for the R2 has been to give users of WM&D a full featured WMS system. The basic processes can be visualized like this. With the introduction of Kitting and VAS, the full circle is complete.

2.2.3 Additional Language support

In the R2 release the WM&D has been extended with Danish language, and WM&D is now supported with all English, Norwegian and Danish. In addition Spanish demo language has been created. Other languages will be available on request.

2.3 Purchase process enhancements

2.3.1 Create inbound cargo from receiptlist/ASN

To better support the use of inbound cargos, the receipt list posting, has been extended so inbound cargo’s can be created when manually posting a receipt list. In R1, this process was only supported when the Advanced shipping notification (ASN) was received through AIF/BizTalk.

This makes it easier following up inbound for companies that have not a full EDI integration to vendors and carriers. This feature is now available in the professional edition.

2.4 Inbound logistics enhancements

2.4.1 Support put away suggestion for receipts without pallet/location

Receive station has been extended to support a better suggestion for locations, when internal transport are not used. The receive station will now search for locations first in buffer area, and then in the pick area. This simplifies the use of receive stations in scenarios where PDA/RF devices are not in use.

2.4.2 Support put away labels

From the receive station it is now possible to print put away labels that can be scanned by PDA.

2.4.3 Support batch labels

From the receive station it is now possible to print batch labels that can be scanned by PDA in later process

2.5 Warehouse logistics enhancements

2.5.1 Improved outbound processes

With WM&D R2 the Pick->Pack->Stage->Load->Ship process has been improved, and additional screens for staging has been introduced.

2.5.2 Manual wave processing

In R1, the creation of waves was very automated. A new wave overview has been created to give better insight and steps involved in a wave planning scenario.

Users can now manually select, calculate replenishment, activate replenishment, activate picking, and print/release picking list for each wave.

Functions for wave merge and wave shortening has been introduced.

2.6 Sales and distribution enhancements

2.6.1 Kitting

Kitting offers companies that are not equipped with finished goods warehouse facilities or cannot afford the capital expenditure of setting up a finished goods warehousing facility. Your company can take advantage of the services that are necessary to forward a product to market quickly. Kitting involves the assembly of products in boxes, shrink-wrap, blister, or clamshell packaging.

Some companies require assistance preparing their product for shipment and display. There is a better chance of selling your product if it is accurately packaged and prepared for market. There is nothing worse than excitedly opening a new item just to find that pieces are missing from the package.

Just an example of how this process may work: You have several items that belong together in a package. In an assembly line, each individual in the line subsequently adds another component to the package in a specific order. This ensures that everything is included in the package. At the end of the assembly line, an individual conducts a quality review. Part of that review could include weighing the package. If the weight of the package is accurate, then all the parts have been included; no more no less. If the weight is incorrect even by a couple of ounces, then it means that either a component is missing or there is an additional part.

Kitting allows the warehouse to build an order for shipping then distribute or store it. Getting the distribution center to kit your products not only prepares the items for distribution, but may also save your company money, because you do not have the labor costs and capital expenditures to deal with.

2.6.2 Real time wave processing

In R2, a real time wave processing is available. As soon as an order is confirmed, the order processor can automatically release replenishments and activate picking lists. This is well suited for same-day delivery scenarios.

By removing the “wave-picking” check box, the system will do real time order processing and replenishment.

2.7 Outbound logistics enhancements

2.7.1 Batch picking

Batch picking is a process where multiple orders are picked simultaneously, and it is used to reduce transit time. With a “man to goods” system where an order selector travels to the product to fill orders, batch picking can drastically reduce the travel time. In a “goods to man” system where product is delivered to the selector, batch picking can reduce delivery traffic.

Batch picking is only available when using handheld PDA’s

2.7.2 Zone picking

Zone picking has been introduces, so that WM&D creates one picking route per pick area.

2.7.3 Value added services (VAS)

A new value added service solution has been created to support VAS functionality. We define VAS as a set of actions, associated costs, expenses and additional items that we want to be logically bundled in order to be easily and logically presented to a stakeholder (a sales processor, warehouse worker or end customer).

VAS is an atomic item, having a specific VAS type that can be

a) Item. An item that exist in the sales order.

b) Cost. A cost associated with VAS, which corresponds to a misc charge on the sales order. There will be also a functionality relating a cost code that is an attribute of VAS line, to a set of misc charges that will automatically be added to the sales order whenever VAS line of type Cost is included.

c) Service. A service that is associated with a service sales line.

d) Action – a set of instructions to a warehouse worker with the guide of what and how to do in relation to the VAS.

e) Package. Used to specify that some set of items needs to be packed together.

f) Labeling

A VAS designer let’s you define the VAS services that must be applied to a salesorder.

The effect of this is the VAS execution that confirms every VAS step needed.

Warehouse Management is getting momentum

Time is going forward, and so is also the warehouse management solution.  We are currently 6 team members that are constantly extending the solution.

In many different industries the role of warehousing parts and items and the logistics around this process are a core business process. This means that the requirements can be very specific in order to keep the business lean and low cost. In order to support companies that depend heavily on warehouse management and distribution processes, To-Increase has developed and delivered an Industry Solution for Microsoft Dynamics AX2009.  The vision for this relatively new Industry Solution is to provide modern functionality to serve as a best of breed solution.

To-Increase Warehouse Management and Distribution builds on robust Microsoft Dynamics® AX functionality to automate the materials handling process for retailers, manufacturers, Distributors, and third-party logistics providers. By integrating advanced radio-frequency (RF) and bar-coding technologies with core warehouse automation, Warehouse Management and Distribution streamlines order management, receiving, stocking, replenishment, picking, and shipping. Your organization can move forward to enhance customer satisfaction with faster turnaround times and precise order fulfillment.

 

Warehouse Management and Distribution  solution will further verticalize into five distinct verticals in order to provide even better coverage of business requirements.

* Apparel & Footware

* Industrial & Wholesale

* Consumer Goods

* Retail

* Food & Beverage

 

At the present moment the WMS and Distribution solution already offers rich functionality in order to automate warehouse processes using integration to wireless devices and forklift mounted terminals.  The main focus of the solution is warehouse automation by means of an integration framework for barcode and PDA devices and conveyor belts and rich functionality for the typical processes in this industry.

 

The direction we are now going is is to further extend the solution with the following features :

* External logistics/external Cross docking, Transport planning and Freight rate shopping

* Batch and Zone picking enhancements

* 3pl and bounded warehouse

* .Net based handheld devices (Not ot dynamics mobile framework, but Ajax)

* Volumetric case/carton picking

* Voice pick and Pick carrousels

* Bom-picking, VAS, Kitting and Pack-to-order

 

For more information, visit www.to-increase.com

 

Best regards

 

Kurt Hatlevik

* Decision data recording and transaction archive

 

Warehouse Management and Distribution for Dynamics AX 2009

Finally, the product is being announced publicly. At the convergence 2008 in Copenhagen. If you visit the Columbus and the To-Increase Booth you can have a live demo and a try of the new WMS product. The last months I have done many demo’s and the feedback is very good. We have also used the last months to quality check, test and prepare the product for general availability. The first customer will be going live on the product on the 2/1/2009. We are aiming for a slow start of new customer, and will not accept more than 5-10 customers in the first phase of the rollout. This to ensure that we have the time to give god partner- and customer training, and to further improve product quality.

Here is a quick overview of the functionality:

More professional factsheets are on the way, but I can give you some sneak preview of the texts:

Warehouse Management and Distribution for Microsoft Dynamics AX

Maximize operational efficiencies, reduce labor costs, and drive proactive logistics planning for warehouse and distribution processes.

To-Increase Warehouse Management and Distribution automates the materials handling process for retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and third-party logistics providers. By integrating advanced radio-frequency (RF) and bar-coding technologies with core warehouse automation, Warehouse Management and Distribution streamlines order management, receiving, stocking, replenishment, picking, and shipping. Your organization can move forward to enhance customer satisfaction with faster turnaround times and precise order fulfillment.

Increase productivity from the start. Deliver a solution that people can learn and use in minutes, on multiple devices. Designed to minimize training time and costs, Warehouse Management and Distribution offers simplified user screens that give your staff the precise information and tools they need to perform tasks quickly and accurately.

Improve efficiency and accuracy to reduce costs and drive customer satisfaction. Automated processes, real-time information flows, and graphical planning tools ensure fast, error-free inventory tracking, picking and packing processes, and order fulfillment. Integrated warehouse robotics and conveyor systems help minimize labor costs and drive faster turnaround time, while still ensuring that goods are delivered to the right location.

Drive speed and quality control across your entire supply chain. Warehouse Management and Distribution offers direct integration with inbound and outbound freight provider systems. You can quickly send purchase orders electronically to both vendors and freight forwarders, receive advanced shipping notices (ASN) from vendors and freight forwarders, and trace all outbound packages in real time. Automated alerts ensure that the right people within your supply chain know when issues arise. Equipped with access to complete, real-time information, your staff, your vendors, and your partners can quickly resolve issues and keep processes running smoothly.

Accelerate performance now and accommodate future growth. Warehouse Management and Distribution is designed for today’s fast, high-volume transaction environments. The solution builds on robust, integrated Microsoft Dynamics® AX capabilities to deliver an end-to-end warehouse management solution.

Seamlessly connect warehouse operations

By taking advantage of RF-based barcoding technologies and seamless integration with order management, Warehouse Management and Distribution tightly orchestrates picking and packing within your warehouse, maximizes staff productivity, and facilitates quick order fulfillment.

  • Support efficient process management for a range of picking styles, including wave, batch, simultaneous, or sequential zone.
  • Give operators the agility to execute picking and packing tasks using only touch screens and barcode scanners.
  • Increase order accuracy and eliminate errors related to paper-based procedures. All picking lists can be picked directly from PDA or forklift screens.
  • Fill multiple orders simultaneously and track inventory in real-time. Minimize your picking area and use wave planning to move only items that are needed to complete an order.
  • Gain a complete view of all warehouse activities through the role-based Warehouse Supervisor screen.

Simplify and streamline receiving and shipping

Rich capabilities for shipping, receiving, and put-away processes ensure efficient transfer and movement of goods—whether they’re inbound, in transit, going from your receiving dock to the warehouse, or outbound.

  • Speed up receiving processes with barcode scanning of cartons and automatic volume and weight registrations.
  • Create Gantt charts that offer accurate overviews, schedules, and critical details for planning and receiving processes.
  • Cross-dock goods directly to outbound docks.
  • Produce shipping labels, packing slips, carton content labels, and advanced shipping notices on demand, eliminating transcription errors from customer orders.
  • Maintain complete status records, including images, to monitor quality control issues. Automated, real-time updates to sales and purchase orders ensure information flows seamlessly across the supply chain.

FEATURES

Vendor and freight integration

  • Ensure tight integration with inbound and outbound freight providers.
  • Send purchase orders electronically to both vendors and freight forwarders.
  • Receive advanced shipping notices (ASN) from vendors and freight forwarders.
  • Trace all outbound packages in real time via your freight forwarders’ systems.

External logistics and yard management

  • Easily create order routings for inbound goods.
  • Track all inbound containers and trucks.
  • Align planning for the receiving sequence with actual requirements.
  • Create Gantt schedules for inbound ports.
  • Easily track "customs clear" dates.

Receiving execution

  • Receive complete ANS, containers, and purchase orders/lines.
  • Automate the receiving process using barcodes.
  • Create license plates for every carton.
  • Plan the put-away process.
  • Enable internal and external cross docking.
  • Streamline receiving with Express Receive functionality.

Reverse logistics

  • Simplify customer returns with wizard-driven processes.
  • Create Returns Management Authorizations (RMAs) and business rules for returned goods.

Quality control

  • Maintain status records for quality-control issues, including images.
  • Include your vendors and business partners in the quality chain.
  • Send e-mail alerts to employees, vendors, or partners when quality issues arise.

Vendor statistics

  • Measure vendor delivery performance.
  • Use vendor statistics in negotiation processes.
  • Establish best practices for standardizing packing materials.

Delivery execution

  • Keep order management informed with automatic updates to sales and purchase orders, and provide graphical views of Available to Promise (ATP).
  • Use store/transfer orders to ship goods to stores.
  • Automate the reservation process.
  • Improve efficiency for packing processes by using packing stations.
  • Maintain performance statistics for picking processes.
  • Simplify shipping procedures with easy-to-use screens and functions.

Movement execution

  • Separate buffer and picking locations.
  • Use wave planning to refill picking locations.
  • Release fulfillment orders according to plan.
  • Access real-time picking lists from PDA and forklift screens.
  • Create seasonal/campaign location plans for optimizing the picking process.

Warehouse Management and Distribution engine

  • Optimize inventory allocation with intelligent soft and hard reservation functionality.
  • Real-time cost calculation eliminates time-consuming inventory closing.
  • Scale to manage high-volume transaction environments.
  • Quickly reconcile inventory values with financials to optimize inventory analysis.

License plate tracing

  • Enable warehouse workers to focus on cartons, pallets, and barcodes rather than item, sizes, and quantity.
  • Uniquely identify every carton.

Serialized inventory

  • Improve accuracy by serializing valuable items.

Barcode-enabled

  • Speed transaction processes with barcode scanners and touch-sensitive screens.
  • Items scanned using barcodes are automatically recorded in the ERP system, increasing accuracy and minimizing manual effort.

Easy label designer

  • Design and print your own labels with support for more than 2000 barcode printers.
  • Archive labels for reprinting.

Telnet and WinPDA for handheld operations

  • Support more than 50 warehouse processes using handheld devices.
  • Create additional PDA programs with an easy-to-use design tool.
  • Streamline resource allocation with automated release of work tasks.

Customizable e-mail delivery confirmations

  • Send automated delivery confirmations to customers.
  • Create standardized e-mail templates with an easy-to-use design tool.

Delivery rules

  • Create your own delivery rules for part delivery, minimum order values, and automatic cancellation of sales orders.
  • Automatically print/release your picking lists.

Automatic BOM explosion

  • Combine items into cartons that contain a mix of sizes and colors.

Conveyor integration

  • Move goods to the right destination using conveyor systems.
  • Support multiple conveyor systems with a single integration.

Transit locations

  • Easily monitor physical storage of goods.
  • Sell goods in transit, while still maintaining accurate inventory records.
  • Maintain inventory values for in-transit goods in financial records.

Microsoft BizTalk Server®

  • Standardize and centralize data and system integrations.
  • Map data across a wide range of message formats using file conversion capabilities.

TI-Wireless

  • Use Telnet devices to receive, transfer, count, pick, and ship items.

TI-RCM

  • Connect Warehouse Management and Distribution with Retail Chain Manager capabilities.

Workflow

  • Create workflows tailored to your specific needs.

Microsoft Dynamics AX Role Center

  • Work within the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Role Center to report KPIs, statistics, and performance.

Sneak preview of the WMS E&E

Last week I had the first preview of some of the new features in WMS E&E.  The development is going forward and at current stage we are 30% finished.  We are currently 11 people working on the solution, so this is a major investment for us.  We have been so lucky to get 4 developers from Russia and Ukraine. We are using Skype and Live Meeting, together with Citrix/Terminal Server and I really works out. 

The Inventory II module from FSB-development is paying off, and secures that this new solution gets its performance and scalability.

The first clients have looked at the solution and are so far happy with the progress.   

Here is some pictures from the presentation:

Gantt Scheduling of Input port

Here is one of the cool features we are woring on.  A gantt based schedulingtool for inbound logistics.  This is the process of directing trucks and containers to spesific input ports.  The user interface is simple and allows for moving the containers between ports and in time.  The gantt will also include a scheduling program, so that the user can recalculate the real ETA-date/time.  When moving a container in thime, the expected deliverydate for that shipment will update the rest of the system and the receive process will be visible for the user.

 

 There is a requirement to schedule the receive of containers. Each container can be placed at a specific input port, and is also allocated a timeslot for emptying the container. 

Each port as attached a working calender and a capacity . The capacity can be expressed in cartons/hour. 

In the gantt view, there must be possible to reschedule containers and also to move them between ports.

The scheculing engine must first allocate a container to a free port, and then find the apropriate timeslot for the container. As soon as the container has been given a port, the receive can start.    
When dobble clicking on a container, the container form must be brought up to front.   
At the botton the planned capacity must be shown, displaying number of cartons expected per hour.

E&E WMS extended with licensepalate

Yesterday we extended the system with a new storage dimension, called LicenseplateID.  This is a unique ID of a carton, that is barcodeded, can can be used anyware in the warehosue system both on put-away and on picking.  The ID is also used in the integration with the conveyor and miniload systems.  The process for extending the system to include a new dimension was quite easy.  Just search in the AOT of the Dynamics AX for the macro "inventdimdevelop", and all places that needed to be extended came up.  The hole process was done in under 3 hours.  Now the tricky part is starting, and that is to build all the funtionallity on to.  I included a small picture to the license plate.
 

Module to be included in E&E WMS II

The original guys behind the inventory transactionsystem (FSB – Flemming, Søren and Benny) is now out with a new module called Inventory II.  This module eliminates the need for large periodic inventory closing timeslots, and will also introduce some new technology called Watermark and SnapShot.  The module also clams to have fixed one of the major drawbacks in the current system, and that is the reservation mechanism.  In Inventory II It is possible to do a reservation on a higher dimensionlevel.  Here you can reserve against the total warehouse, and still be able to move the goods around within the Warehouse.  The exact location or serialnumber can be specified at a latertime, lets say when the items arrives in the pickingarea.  Today I will take a close look on this new module, that I know Microsoft also have evaluated.  My plan is to have this module as the Backbone in the E&E WMS module.  Here is some details that FSB has officially announsed:

Watermark technology

The architecture of Inventory II is based on the new revolutionary Watermark database technology. This technology ensures that even large and complex inquiries can be addressed by the database without performance slow down, even on growing databases.
All database inquiries will target a very small amount of data, as transactions are divided into relevant and non-relevant data in a very effi cient way without use of complex index keys, resulting in a second to none performance.

What is the impact of this technology?

Having the Inventory II architecture built on this technology gives significant advantages in the daily operation. These include:
Cost prices are calculated real-time
Master scheduling during daily operation
True 24/7 capabilities
No traditional inventory closing

Real-time reliable cost prices

The Inventory II module is monitoring all inventory movements,resulting in immediate action upon arrival of new or changed cost prices. Cost prices are real-time calculated, adjusted and updated throughout item transfers and bills of materials.

No inventory closing function

Adjustment of item consumption is calculated and posted immediately, whenever identifi ed, eliminating the traditional inventory closing function.

Cost price deviation monitor

Cost price deviations are identifi ed and presented real-time in the deviation monitor, giving the finance department a unique tool to act on. Cost price deviation alerts can be defi ned, reducing the risk for simple errors, like key-in errors in the purchase department or from suppliers that may reside in the system for a longer period, resulting in complicated cleanup tasks.

Physical cost valuation

Inventory valuation can be fi xed on packing slip prices instead of on delayed invoice prices. Upon receipt of invoices, deviations are posted on dedicated General ledger accounts.

New model for weighted average cost

A new simplifi ed periodic average cost price model is introduced.  Average cost prices are always calculated as clean weighted average prices for individual periods. Issues related to uncontrollable number of settlements are eliminated, as settlements are not created anymore.

Intelligent reservation

Rule based reservation levels

With the introduction of reservation levels a new degree of fl exibility is applied to the inventory. This will allow for reservation at less detailed levels, e.g. reservation at a warehouse without determination of location or batch at the time of order intake. Reservation levels can automatically be further specified prior to the time of picking to include e.g. what specific location to pick from. The process of picking is now a matter of reporting what specific items were picked: e.g. batch number, serial number, etc.

Transferring reserved items
Reserved inventory items can now be transferred. The warehouse staff is now free to manage the warehouse in an efficient way not having to struggle with restrictions on reserved items.

FIFO/LIFO reservation and picking order

Inventory II allows for controlling and optimizing the order in which items are reserved. A FIFO or LIFO reservation order can ensure that the oldest or newest items are picked fi rst, while a location reservation order can ensure that the physical process of picking is more optimal according to physical locations.

Lot reservation

Reservations directly on specifi c incoming lots leading to full traceability and transparency on reserved items.

24/7 capability

Run your Master scheduling any time
The Master scheduling can be executed at any time in daily operation and still delivers a consistent profi le even though new transactions are created concurrently.

Open slots for Inventory closing not necessary

The traditional Inventory closing function is not relevant any more as cost prices are calculated real- time. Because of that there are no needs for allocating exclusive time slots for this task during weekends or nights.

No worries regarding blocking locks

Neither Inventory closing (which is now just a matter of changing a date) nor Master scheduling causes blocking locks preventing daily operation to take place.
Simply run your operation 24/7 if you prefer

Performance and scalability

The foundation and architecture of the Inventory II solution has been designed with specifi c regards to high performance and scalability. The unique design patterns such as the Watermark and Snapshot technologies have been chosen out of performance reasons.

The result of this architecture is revolutionary:
Blocking lock issues in inventory are nonexistent. The improved concurrency will set new standards for scalability.

Inventory inquiries execute incredibly fast, independent of transaction volume, even on historical data.

Real cost prices

are calculated real-time, but the individual users are not affected by this processing since it is handled by a smart background process.