Using Cloud POS as your retail mobile device

Handheld functionality for retailers is a question I get a lot. Then typical in the area of counting, replenishment, receive and daily POS operations. In version 8.1 Microsoft have taken a small step forward to make it easier to use any handheld device that supports a common browser. Because Cloud POS (CPOS) runs in a browser, the application isn’t installed on the device. Instead, the browser accesses the application code from the CPOS server. CPOS can’t directly access POS hardware or work in an offline state.

What Microsoft have done is to make the CPOS change according to the screen size, to work more effectively on your device. To make it simple, I just want to show you how it looks on my iPhone.

Step 1: Direct your browser towards the URL of where the CPOS is located. In LCS you will find the URL here:

Step 2: Activate your POS on mobile device by selecting store and register, and log in

Step 3: Log into CPOS and start using it. Here are some sample screens from my iPhone, where I count an item using CPOS.

You can also “simulate” this in your PC browser, but just reducing the size of your browser window before you log into CPOS. Here I’m showing the inventory lookup in CPOS.

What I would love to see more of is:

– Barcode scanning support using camera

– The ability to create replenishment/purchase orders in CPOS

– More receive capabilities like ASN/Pallet receive etc.

– Improved browser functionality (like back-forward browsing etc)

To me it seems clear that we will see additional improvements in CPOS, making it the preferred mobile platform for Dynamics 365 for Retail. As we get a little, I hope to see more of this as Microsoft is definitely investing in this area. In our own customer projects we will be developing more and more functionality using RTS (Real Time Service calls) to add more features to be used together with CPOS.

To take this to the next level, please also check evaluate to create a hybrid app, that incorporate CPOS in a app friendly way. Sources say that this will also allow us to build extensions like camera barcode scanning

The direction is right and my prediction for the future is that: Mobile Retail device = CPOS.

DAX 2009 – Shipping overview, a mirror of arrival overview

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Dear AX 2009 customers. You are not forgotten, and Microsoft have support options available until year 2021 J. I wanted to write a blogpost to show that there still happens a lot of local innovation at the customers that are relying on this version of DAX.

Often, when we talk about purchase orders and sales orders, we often refer to them as mirrors. On the transaction level Purchase and sales can be seen as mirror processes, with just the opposite sign. But in standard AX the processes to handle the supply chain can be quite different. The question was therefore if it was possible to also mirror the supply chain processes. Taking the ideas from arrival overview and mirroring it to a shipment overview.

For receiving many reply on the Arrival overview to group together expected receipts and to create arrival journals. The Arrival overview is actually a quite good tool when you learn to use it. For the more the more advanced outbound logistics shipments are used to handle the picking, staging and loading of the goods. A customer came up the suggestion to create a “shipment overview”, but based on the arrival overview. This way the warehouse operator can search across shipments, but also have some volumetric indication of the load that is being released to the warehouse floor.

The arrival overview differs from other screens, because it actually consists of temporary tables that is build based on a query. The same thing happens here. The shipments are loaded on the upper grid, while the picking lines is loaded on the lower grid. There are advanced queries to control the loading of the data. Since it is a temporary table, the fields like address, weights, pallet quantity is real fields on the temporary table. This means that after the result have been fetched, the user can perform additional search and filtering. Like sorting and filtering the shipments in a based on addresses, pallet quantity, weight etc. Also the ability to multi select shipments or lines to be able to move lines between shipments. The screen will mainly be used for inquiry and for activating shipments.

And in relation to performance.. It is acceptable J

Distribution orders in a cross company scenario.

Many retail enterprises have selected Dynamics AX as their main system to handle their processes for financials, procurement, logistics, merchandising and POS/retail. They have a presents globally and is true international enterprises. We also often see that they are organized through partnerships and francizing, and to be cost efficient a lot of processes like brand, assortment and logistics have been centralized.

Dynamics AX for Retail natively supports most scenarios by providing efficient processes for the retail industry. The flow of products by using intercompany trading simplifies transactions handling.

One question that arises is how clear boundaries between the legal entities should be ? What I would like to discuss in this blogpost is how to structure legal entities in Dynamics AX, and still be efficient. Let’s say we have the following 3 level structure of the enterprise.

Here we have a central enterprise legal entity, that have the responsibility of overall finance, reporting, products, recommended retail pricing, assortments and procurement.

The next tier is the regional logistics units. They can be own operated warehouses, or outsourced to third party logistics providers. The purpose is not only to serve stores and partners, but to perform logistics processes like receiving, quality control etc.

The tier at the bottom is where all the partners and stores are located. This can be based on a franchise model, partner or own stores. At least one legal entity per partner or country.

How to handle transactions between these entities?

Keeping a good track on processes and the transactions is vital. We need to know where costs occur, and how the transactions are handled. Here I would like to discuss a bit how the transactions can be handled. Let’s start with the partners and stores.

Products are purchased through a intercompany purchase order. If products needs to be internally moved, then transfer orders are used. When the stores sell products, then POS and sales orders are used. The transaction handling clean and easy with simple transactions. Some times there may be issues with costs that will arrive later, like transportation costs. This can be handled with misc. charges as described here.

In the figure above we see how inventory costs are originating from the vendor and the costs are propagated through the intercompany chain. Also how we can add additional charges like insurance, freight, and make sure that these costs flow through the intercompany chain.

The next tier, the regional logistics warehouses/distribution centers is also very simple. All goods are purchased from a vendor. This means that the vendor will have a matching sales invoice per regional logistics center.

All sales out of a regional logistics center is a intercompany sales order. If the center is a third party logistics provider, this means that the legal entity is mostly being handled by automated transactions and by integrations. What is important, is that it is an actual legal entity and is being handled as one. By doing this, it means that there are less need for customizations in handling financials and taxes.

Then we come to processes being handled in the headquarters; Enterprise processes and functions. This is the main topic of what I wanted to write about. The idea is to be able to control both the procurement/purchase and the distribution from a central perspective. It is fully possible to do this with standard AX, but it can be a bit resource intensive. I wanted to see if it was an easier way to deal with this, without making too many customizations. The concept is the “distribution order“.

Company wide distribution orders does not exists as a concept in standard AX. A distribution order is close to the “Buyer’s push” functionality that exists in Dynamics AX, but to be able to be handled in a global intercompany scenario. It means that you from a central perspective see and plan all the purchase orders and intercompany sales orders, regardless of whish legal entity that is performing the actual transactions.

The distribution order is not linked to a legal entity, but is created and controlled by HQ. The resources doing planning and procurement, and create a distribution, and add the lines/items they want to distribute. They can also add additional purchase order lines to the distribution. In the distribution lines the distribution quantity can be fetched directly from the purchase lines, or can be manually overridden.

It is also possible to “reverse” the creation process, where the planner starts with a set of manually created distribution lines, and then create the purchase orders created in each regional warehouse/legal entity.

It is also possible to create a distribution order of the type “On-hand” and “end-of-season”, that will base the quantity of the distribution lines on the available physical.

The planner can then run the process “create suggestion”, based on a distribution key. This will create a Distribution result. It will have one line per store. The planner can then choose to make manual changes. When the result is OK, then the planner can activate the distribution order. This will make the necessary intercompany sales orders from the regional logistics companies to the partner/stores.

Since the distribution order will have visibility across legal entities, the purchase lines and the intercompany sales orders can be additional linked through inventory marking. This can then enable the possibility for cross docking scenarios, and also to add the ability for direct delivery scenario’s.

We will then have the possibility to give the buyers and planes an overall view of all inbound and outbound logistics through all regional distribution centers. Also the ability to show current status and progress.

I have done this before in AX 2009 as you can read about here. And I would love to add this feature to the free Codeplex AX 2012 Global retail package. If this is interesting for you to have, please reach out to me, and we can have a discussion on an jointed cooperation.

Dynamics AX 2012: At your service!

Dynamics AX Service management can be used for service agreements and service subscriptions, handle service orders and customer inquiries, and to manage and analyze the delivery of services to customers. You can use service agreements to define the resources that are used in a typical service visit. You can also use service agreements to view how those resources are invoiced to the customer. A service agreement can also include a service level agreement that specifies standard response times, and offers tools to record the actual time.

What I wanted was to see how much we could simplify the registration of needed repair materials and service hours.

The Dynamics AX service orders is tightly integrated to the project module, and sometimes our customers react that they feel the registration of materials in a warehouse scenario is a bit confusing. The reason for this, is that there are two ways of registering used items on a service order.

  1. You can key in the material in the service order (As you can see in the picture above), and then post it. Then the items will be SOLD from the specified location using a project item journal. There are now way to implement proper warehouse processes in this scenario.
  2. You can create item requirements, that essential is a sales order line, and so support warehouse processes. The drawback, it that the lines posted in the item requirement isn’t visible on the service order screen.

So I decided to create a very easy to use Data Collection Studio application, that allows a more simpler en easy to use approach, and that it closed to the expected process flow.

In this service order I need some items that is not on the list, so I scan item 100, and I need 2 pcs

On the service order, the new line is added, but is marked as “posted” :

But this is “just-for-show” to create a better visibility for the service operator.

The real transaction is located on the item requirements:

The next stage is packingslip update or invoicing.

By this added functionality it means that we have a very simplified way for allowing service personnel into the warehouse, and still maintaining 100% inventory accuracy.

I end this blogpost with a picture from WMD warehouse:

Turn your Dynamics AX WMS from ‘Where’s My Stuff’ to an actual ‘Warehouse Management System’

Problem 1

“Your receiving area is so packed that you haven’t seen the floor since 1994.”

Ask for Advanced shipping notice (ASN)

With the technology available in Dynamics AX companies have EDI capabilities using the AIF. Sharing container level detail via ASN’s has become common practice. ASN’s can reduce the effort to receive by as much as 70%. It can eliminate the need for detail receiving from trusted vendors. It will simplify labeling, counting and sorting.

Since it is known upfront what is expected, it can also reduce the need for receipt breakdown, with the use of pre-sorted containers and pre-calculated system directed put away path.

Perform receiving sortation

Receiving sortation can improve productivity when receiving breakdown and detail receiving are required. Receipts of partial pallet quantities contain a mix of products that will be stored in different areas can be improved. Products are received in small quantities that don’t justify a trip into the warehouse on their own can be collected and wait until the require quantity if reached.

Receiving sortation involves separating products based on put away area. Master licenses can be constructed for given areas. Put away can be postponed until there are enough items destined for the same area to warrant the travel. System directs operators in the most efficient travel path.

Problem 2

“It takes so long to get product put-away you composed a new song called The Fill Rate Blues

Staying on top of put away tasks

When push comes to pull, put-away is one of the work tasks that takes a back seat to picking, replenishments and loading.

Pulling resources from put-away can have several negative effects like lower fill rates, congestion in the aisles and obstructions to picking that leads to lower productivity.

Managing the put away process

The process becomes manageable by defining the put-away as a process, where you plan, execute and monitor the put-away process.

Plan:

  • Review expected receipts
  • Review current backlog
  • Calculate resource requirements based on standard rates per zone

Execute

  • Assign resources based on plan
  • Consider factors such as:
    • Zone congestion
    • Hot receipt priorities

Monitor

  • How many tasks are outstanding
  • What part of the facility are they destined for
  • How many people are currently doing put away tasks

Then repeat the process!

Problem 3

“Your wave templates have become so numerous and complicated your actively recruiting a rocket scientist from MIT to run the allocation process”

Document and analyze

Document how many waves you run each day for a one week period. Capture reasons why so many waves are needed, and document perceived benefits and negative results.

Analyze your current process and look for ways to:

  • Pre-define and save wave templates
  • Develop a daily schedule that governs
    • Which wave templates to run
    • When to run them
  • Automate the allocation process when it make sense
  • Apply some general rules of thumb

General rules of thumb

One word; KISS (keep it simple stupid). Reduce the number of wave templates used and work to a schedule like “I need to run wave templates at 9:00AM everyday”

Allocate as close to picking as possible. The Dynamics AX WMS has a better picture of inventory at picking time: Pending put away tasks, moves, etc.

Allocate a few large waves vs. many small ones, because when Dynamics AX WMS has a larger group of orders allows optimal work assignment size and allows for better order grouping to optimize pick path.

Problem 4…

“The warehouse is so full you set up an overflow storage area in the lunch room where employees sit at full pallets rather than tables”

Re-warehousing and consolidation

Re-Warehousing is the process of moving goods from one warehouse to another or to a different location within a warehouse. Re-warehousing can be performed in several ways, like based on storage strategies and on picking strategies. Also use Dynamics AX WMS transactions to identify and execute on consolidation opportunities. Then create a set of re-warehousing/transfer moves and schedule them accordingly.

Problem 5…

“Product demand and velocity change so often that you begin using an ouija board to slot product”

Warehouse optimization

Objective is to improve picking productivity by reducing travel time and improving ergonomics for high demand product. WMS supports opportunity based optimization (slotting) through strategy changes and re-slot products through normal picking and storage processes.

As velocity changes so does optimal pick and storage locations. By changing master strategy products can be cleaned out of non-optimal locations as a normal part of picking. Also products can be stored to new optimal location as a normal part of put away.

Storage/put-away examples

High velocity product. Always try to store to prime locations first.

Sequence

Zone/sub zone

Pallet

Carton

Each

1

10 (reserve)

Y

N

N

2

20 (forward)

N

Y

Y

3

30 (forward)

N

Y

Y

4

40 (forward)

N

Y

Y

Low velocity product. Always try to store to non-prime locations first.

Sequence

Zone/sub zone

Pallet

Carton

Each

1

10 (reserve)

Y

N

N

2

40 (forward)

N

Y

Y

3

30 (forward)

N

Y

Y

4

20 (forward)

N

Y

Y

Picking examples

High velocity product. Always try to pick from none-prime locations first and clean stock out of none-prime locations first until there is only stock left in new prime locations.

Sequence

Zone/sub zone

Pallet

Carton

Each

1

10 (reserve)

Y

N

N

2

40 (forward)

N

Y

Y

3

30 (forward)

N

Y

Y

4

20 (forward)

N

Y

Y

Low velocity product. Always try to pick from prime locations first and clean stock out of prime locations first until there is only stock left in new non-prime locations

Sequence

Zone/sub zone

Pallet

Carton

Each

1

10 (reserve)

Y

N

N

2

20 (forward)

N

Y

Y

3

30 (forward)

N

Y

Y

4

40 (forward)

N

Y

Y

Product profiling steps

The saying “A place for everything, and everything in its place” almost sums up the idea behind warehouse slotting and profiling. A more accurate version might be, “An ideal place for everything, and everything in the most efficient place.” Analyze for optimal product placement based on

  • Velocity
  • Demand
  • Bin trips
  • Compare to actual product location.
  • Identify and prioritize opportunities to relocate product.
  • Schedule and execute moves.

Slotting

Balancing picking efficiency and replenishment frequency is an important factor in achieving least-cost labor associated with both activities, while also maintaining adequate inventory in pick slots to attain high customer service levels. Steps to achieve this is to:

Analyze

  • Racking requirements (linear length of racking)
  • Recommended fixture type to SKU (bins vs. pallet flow lanes)
  • Overall productivity rates, replenishment requirements, etc.

Slot

  • Ideal SKU to Location assignment throughout warehouse
  • Precise Location sizing (opening size, capacity) to meet on hand inventory requirements
  • Exact SKU slotting characteristics (# faces, orientation) to maximize utilization of racking space

Maintain

  • Analysis of SKU moves required to improve overall profile
  • Generation of moves to maximize utilization of labor in completing moves

Problem 6…

“Your picking productivity is so low you’re considering benchmarking it as a reverse logistics operation”

Picking productivity

Picking is the most labor intensive time critical operation in the warehouse. Optimizing other operations at the expense of picking costs more in the long run. Manage the flow of picking work to avoid congestion, bottle necks and shipping delays

Improving picking productivity

Ergonomics – take the time to make product pick ready. Develop special storage fixtures when warranted. Orient product to make it easy to pick. Remove excess packaging. Locate heavy or odd shaped product in easy to access locations.

Properly slot product based on Ergonomics and demand/velocity, and develop an ongoing slotting program to analyze and relocate products. Even minimal effort can reap significant benefits.

Validate that you are using the appropriate type of picking. The theme is eliminate non-value added steps. Evaluate pick and pack vs. pick and consolidate. Eliminate packing processes where appropriate. Minimize travel time – keep the pickers in the aisles. Look for ways to pick multiple orders at a time by using batch and bulk picking. And measure, measure, measure!

  • Establish a benchmark
  • Implement adjustments and compare to benchmark
  • Incremental improvements add up over time

Communicate productivity expectations to employees

  • Engineered time standards
  • Standardized work assignments

Give employees feedback on performance and evaluate one on one vs. public. WMS provides all the necessary productivity data. Develop daily work plan and communicate it to the team. Communicate progress throughout the day and remember that co-workers are the best motivators.

Problem 7…

“You handle products so many times in the warehouse you may have to start selling them as used”

Eliminating waste

Map your processes. Flow charts or process flows are proven tools and analyze each step for the value it provides. Eliminate non-value added steps and look for ways to streamline and simplify. “We always did it this way”… doesn’t cut it anymore. Great new ideas get bogged down by exceptions. If you spend more than 10% of the time dealing with an exception then it probably is not an exception.

Focus on incremental approach because silver bullets are rare and small improvements add up over time

Problem 8…

“You are considering purchasing turbo charged fork lifts to help your material handlers get Replenishments done in a timely fashion”

Replenishment do’s and don’ts

Stock one day’s inventory in forward pick locations where possible. If space is short – focus on the highest velocity items. Manage the priorities of replenishment tasks through the WMS, can classify emergency vs. regular. Avoid fit problems and let the WMS release replenishments when they will fit.

Employ the correct replenishment model by zone

  • Real time – when flow is fairly even
  • Allocation based – when spikes in demand are common
  • Scheduled – when there is enough stock in forward to support daily picking demands

Avoid excessive replenishments and set thresholds properly. Don’t streamline replenishments at the expense of picking. The true measure of success is keeping enough stock to support picking with a minimum of effort.

Monitor replenishment activities through the WMS

  • Look for backlogs from zone to zone
  • Identify the number of employees currently assigned
  • Adjust as needed

Problem 9…

“The auditors are so carried away with inventory accuracy they want you to cycle count the contents of vending machines in the lunch room”

Warehouse Manager vs. Auditor

Warehouse Managers and Inventory Auditors have different objectives. Managers want accuracy with minimal effort and auditors want minimal risk of errors. Dynamics AX WMS is very good at maintaining inventory accuracy… Take advantage of that fact! Negotiate with your auditors to reduce the requirements and propose a pilot with verifiable results.

Minimize your effort

Reduce your dependence on cycle counting to correct errors. Look for ways to ensure accuracy on the front end.

  • Simplified processes
  • Procedures that promote accuracy
  • Thorough training
  • Validation, validation, validation
    • Bar Codes
    • Check Digits

Look for incentives to motivate employee accuracy.

Minimize the risk

Standardize your accuracy reporting and track accuracy on a weekly basis. Research and correct root causes like training, problem employees or complicated processes.

Leverage the data available in your Dynamics AX. Establish benchmarks both you and the auditor can live with. Build a solid track record to support future changes.

And the number 10…

Turn your Dynamics AX WMS from ‘Where’s My Stuff’ to an actual ‘Warehouse Management System’

Happy DAX’ing, and with R3 we will be closer.

AX2012 : Use queries as criteria

In Dynamics AX 2012 the relation between different records is often defined as a “table-group-all” relation. One example of this is the setup of supplementary items, where you can define the relation as a Table-Group-All relation.

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Even though this approach is easy to use and understand, it does have limitations.  Often you would like to pin-point the relationships even further.  It can be based on other fields in the source record.

I wanted to look against another approach, where I can use a query as a criteria.  Normally queries are used to fetch specific records based on a set of ranges and defined sorting criteria.

I have a label software, that integrates Dynamics AX 2012 with BarTender, and it is generic, meaning that it can produce labels based on all data sources in AX.

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So in this case, I can setup that when the user wants to print a label, I can search through a set of label templates, and check this record if it fits the query criteria.  I then have a endless possibility to specify all kinds of criteria to select the best matching label template.

The trick is to add the source recid as a range to the packed query criteria exactly when checking for it.  Also to add the “firstonly” hint, so that you don’t query for more than you want.

Here is some sample job, I used to test out this approach:

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Microsoft is also using the same approach when selecting is a WMSorder can be added to a existing shipment.  Take a look at  WMSShipment.canWMSOrderBeAdded() or at wmsShipmentTemplate.canWMSOrderBeAdded(), then you see the same pattern.

I hope you see the value in this, and that it can open a complete new way of adding rules and relational information to Dynamics AX 2012.  With this approach we can generically pinpoint our criteria for our rules.

Take care and happy DAXing 

Reservation sequence in AX 2012

I have received some questions on how does Dynamics AX 2012 decide what on-hand to select when reserving. Some thinks it is the inventory model (FIFO etc), but it is not. Some times it can seam like AX 2012 has it’s own will can selects randomly.

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If the same item is located in many different buffer locations, there is a rule. It all comes down so sorting of inventory dimensions, that is specified in the InventoryDimensions group on the table InventDim.

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So this means that the Inventsum is sorted on these inventory dimensions alphanumeric ascending. Meaning that items on location A001 will be reserved before A002 if available physical.

If you dig deep into the following method you find the code (InventSum::newQueryReservation()):

image

image

image

There are ISV solutions that addresses this, and that solves this in a very elegant way.  But now you know where to look if you want to challenge reservation sequence in AX 2012 with a good old customization.

(There are FEFO reservation sequences in AX 2012 but this is not addressed here)

Happy Daxing

Dynamics AX 2012 architecture for carton, packages and pallets

When shipping goods, there are many requirements that needs to be fulfilled. You have the ability to have correct addresses, customer requirements, freight forwarder requirements and legal requirements. To solve this we have many different “systems” in Dynamics AX 2012 (and earlier versions) to solve each of these requirements. Some of these systems are:

  • Sales Shipping Stats – Print the std. AX delivery label, and get volumetric information on the packingslip/invocie.
  • Bill of Lading – A document used with the freight forwarder to keep track of where to deliver the goods.
  • Packing material – A system to keep track of fees related to packing material
  • Ship carrier integration – A system for integrating to shipping software, like UPS Worldship og Clipper ship. Can also be used in „test mode“ if you don’t have such a shipping software.

I have gone as deep as possible into the subject to understand, and my judgment is “The data model for storing and maintaining package information in Dynamics AX 2012 is a mess!” In reality we have more than 4 different systems for maintaining package information. In reality this means we could have 4 versions of the truth. And to cover all eventualities and requirements of a advanced distribution company we need to make sure that we update all the necessary information in all 4 different systems. If Microsoft is reading this post, my suggestion for the next release is to combine these systems into one.

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But it can take several years before our customers could benefit from such a change. So this blog post is about how we can make this work with what we have. First I will go deep on each of these 4 “systems”.

Sales shipping stats

The first “system” is the Shipping Specification. These are fields you register when you do packing slips.

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Here you can also select to print out the standard AX delivery label.

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The design is not very impressive and it clearly needs some customizations to make this acceptable for any customer of freight forwarder. But I guess that the idea from Microsoft is that shipment labels is not printed from Dynamics AX, but from a shipping software.

There also exists an inquiry form, where you can reprint the standard Dynamics AX 2012 delivery labels. I have found this menuitem available in the main manu under sales –> inqueries –> distribution –> Shipments. (Quite confusing since this is a terminology used for WMSShipments)

image

After the packingslip is posted, the user cannot change the data here.

The information of this is stored in a table called SalesShippingStat.

image

The “filling” of this information is manually done before doing a packing slip update, but it gets “marked” with Packingslip ID in the following code.

image

We see from this code, that the Sales Shipping Stat system does not have any uniqueness on the data or cartons. This code just related to get the summary of weight and cartons on the packingslip. Also see that the SalesParameters.useShippingStatOnPackingslip must be enabled for it to work.

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is a receipt for goods that the carrier agrees to transport and to deliver to a designated person. It shows the list of goods delivered for transportation. In case of loss, damage, or delay, the bill of lading is the basis for filing freight claims. The bill of lading includes information about:

  • The customer order.
  • The carrier.
  • The origin and destination of the shipment.
  • The number of units in the shipment.
  • Freight charge terms.
  • Special instructions.

The bill of lading system is originating from the shipping module, and do not share any information with the SalesShippingStat system. It makes it possible to create a formletter like this :

image

The bill of lading can be both automatically and manually created,

image

The Bill of lading system is much more comprehensive than the sales shipping stat system, because it is possible to have some kind of unique ness.

The tables and fields used in this system is the following:

image

As seen here, the tables are missing the WMSPickPalletId or any SSCC-capable fields.

The tables refers to the following :

image

The automatic creation of BOL’s are done in the WMSShipment.ship method:

image

image

What I would expect from the BOL, is that the uniqueness of each package/pallet would be more clear. In a consolidated picking scenario we do have the WMSPickPalletID, that could provide this uniqueness, but this information is never passed into the bill of lading tables.

There is therefore no way to pass information like SSCC etc, or to use the BOL system as a basis for ASN/EDI processes. It is all about creating the Bill-Of-Lading document.

Packing material

The third way of dealing with packing material is the Packing material tables

image

The packing material is primarily for calculating a packing material fee. The table is normally filled in when a sales invoice is posted.

The tables look like this:

image

The packing material system therefore seems to only have one single function. To keep track of packing material fees, and not for logistical purposes.

Shipping carrier integration tables.

The shipping carrier interface feature allows Microsoft Dynamics AX customers to integrate with shipping software. The shipping software packages can pull information from Microsoft Dynamics AX, process packages, and then move their information into Microsoft Dynamics AX, eliminating manual entry and improving tracking visibility.

In the Shipping Carrier Interface for Dynamics AX 2009, Microsoft described this feature as this in the following whitepaper.

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It is intended that the packing is handled in an external shipping, and then later transferred to Dynamics AX. This is described as a process that happens between packing slip and invoicing.

It is possible to manually fill in the information, by placing the carrier integration in “test-mode”. When posting the packing slip update, then the following screen will appear:

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If we look deeper into the implementation of this ship carrier system, we see that it is interesting, because it does contain much what is needed. I would say that it is the best “survival candidate” of the 4 different systems.

What happens, when the packingslip is posted is the following:

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PS! Check out the calculation of the ShipCarrierCODPackage.codAmount. It does not cover discounts!

The fields in the requester table contains the following:

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It is a bit sad, that it does not transfer any information about already created pick pallets into the ShipCarrierShippingRequest. In a consolidated picking scenario often these pick pallets have already been created, and it would simply the process of that was available for the shipping software.

It is in the process made so that the shipping software will return data into a staging table, that contains the following fields.

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What is interesting here, is that the PackageId field, that is actually extended from WMSPickPalletId. So this means that pallet ID can be returned back. What is missing is information about width, height, length and volume. But Microsoft have placed this information in the table ShipCarrierCODPackage:

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But this volumetric information is never filled in by standard AX. The table is only created from AX if there is a COD(Cash On Delivery).

A solution suggestion

There are some facts. We have AX 2012 and AX 2014 is not here yet. Our customers hate large footprint customizations, because they make upgrades more difficult. And there is already many dependencies in AX 2012 that we need to take care of. So what do I do for my customers ? I cheat the system.

  1. When picking all picking transactions will be marked with a pick pallet ID.
  2. When Packing I have a new table, that is quite large and „flat“, but contains almost all I need to fiels for my labels, freight charges, weight, volumetric information ++++
  3. After packing is done per shipment, then I will generate information’s into all the 4 systems from the „New architecture“ system, and prevent the standard AX to generate this information.

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This gives me much more control, and also the ability to have uniqueness on all outbound cargos, tracking +++. And my footprint is ZERO in standard AX, and compatible with my PDA and label printing system (BTI)

Shipping Container Labeling guide

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Major retailers have identified incorrect logistic unit (pallet) labeling as a major emerging supply chain issue. A recent sample audit found that approximately 44% of pallet labels are not meeting agreed upon industry requirements. The issues they face include:

  • No label has been applied
  • Label is in the wrong location
  • Information on the label does not match what is on the pallet
  • Multiple labels with different Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCC) been applied
  • Pallet label will not scan
  • Stretch-wrap has been applied over the pallet label so it doesn’t scan

The following information contains guidelines and general information on how to create and apply good quality logistic (pallet) labels as per the standard requirements of the Retail Industry.

As the Retail Industry adopts the key principles of Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) there is increased demand for high quality data capture at all points in the supply chain. Although the industry has been numbering and bar coding trade items for a number of years, the biggest emerging problem in the supply chain is logistic unit labeling.

With the migration to more and more automated scanning in warehouses and distribution centres, it is imperative that suppliers and their logistics providers ensure 100% scannability of all bar codes which will bring mutual benefits to all trading partners. Printing and applying a good quality bar code label that complies to industry standards and which is scannable by all trading partners’ costs no more than printing and applying a bar code label that doesn’t scan.

This document and its recommendation should be read in conjunction with other GS1 technical guidelines as well as retailer specific documentation all of which can be accessed and downloaded from their respective websites.

The Importance of Logistic (Pallet) Labels

The use of the logistic label incorporating the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) by all parties in the supply chain, from manufacturers to transporters, distributors and retailers, is seen to be inevitable for the identification and tracking of pallets and other forms of logistic units. The purpose of the GS1 logistics label is to uniquely identify specific information about the pallet clearly and concisely in a standard format, to facilitate the process of moving products through the supply chain quickly and efficiently.

Industry Business Benefits of GS1 Logistics Label

  • Logistics Units are identified with a number that is unique worldwide
  • GS1 standards are global and apply through the entire supply chain, from raw materials supplier to manufacturer to distributor/wholesaler to end user/retailer.
  • Provides a link with bar coded information on a logistics unit and the information that is communicated between trading partners via electronic business transactions.
  • Use to identify contents of pallets, including stock data, use-by-dates etc
  • Contributes to efficient management of stock rotation at a glance
  • Saves costs by doing it once
  • Avoids multiple label types (industry standard)
  • Faster receiving, quick turnaround
  • Improves data integrity – use by date and quantity fields
  • Stock rotation based on use by date
  • Pallet tracking from vendor to retailer can assist product recalls
  • Works in conjunction with a Dispatch Advice – Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN)
  • SSCC can be used for both inter and intra-company transactions.

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Fig 1: Example of Numbering & Bar coding Labelling Hierarchy

Logistic (Pallet) Label Requirements for the Retail Industry

The GS1 Logistics Label can typically have many different formats. The SSCC is the only mandatory piece of information that must be contained on the label itself as ideally the information flow, which accompanies the physical flow of goods, is communicated between trading partners by EDI.

In practice, however, fully automated communication channels, which make it possible to rely exclusively on electronic files for retrieving information on the movements of goods, are not always available. In this situation there may be a requirement to add additional information to the logistics label to facilitate the process of the logistic units through the supply chain.

The purpose of the GS1 logistics label is to provide information about the unit to which it is fixed, clearly and concisely. The core information on the label should be represented both in machine (bar code) and human readable form. There may be other information, which is represented in human readable form only.

What can go wrong? – Common Pitfalls

It is imperative that suppliers and logistics providers ensure 100% scannability of all barcodes. There are many reasons as to why pallet labels may not meet industry requirements. Here are some examples:

  • Label position incorrect
  • No pallet label applied
  • Multiple or mismatching SSCCs on the same pallet
  • Duplicated SSCCs
  • Damaged label such as creases and folds.
  • Will not scan due to incorrect bar code symbology or poor print quality
  • Label applied underneath stretch wrap
  • Pallet label applied to only one side of the pallet
  • Product information applied in the bar code does not match the product on the pallet
  • Pallet label bar codes not scanning
    • Ribbon wrinkle with thermal transfer application
    • Print-head element failure leading to a line through a black bar (split bar) within the bar code
    • Poor print quality – faint print due to the label print-head heat being too low or the print speed too high
    • Poor print quality – bleeding print due to the label printer print-head heat being too high with the print speed too low
  • Handwritten changes are not reflected in the bar code and are therefore not permitted on pallet labels
  • Label applied over carton joins/seams causing tearing
  • Label Dimensions

The business requirements for most users of GS1 Logistic Labels are met by using one of following:

  • A6 (105 mm x 148 mm) – 4 x 6 inch, which is particularly suitable when only the SSCC, or the SSCC and limited additional data, is encoded
  • A5 (148 mm x 210 mm) – 6 x 8 inch

However, the label can be any size that suits the labeller’s requirements, but it must be  large enough to carry all the information required together with the GS1-128 bar codes.

Factors influencing label sizes include the amount and a type of data required the content and X-dimensions of the bar code symbols used, and the dimensions of the logistic unit to be labeled.

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Example label used for single product parcels and pallets, with GTIN information.

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Example label used for parcels and pallets with AI 403 – Routing code without GTIN and product information.

Logistics Label Requirements

Label Size

  • The minimum label size is A6, 105mm x 148mm, however larger label sizes such as A5 or A4 are permitted

Label Format

  • The label layout can be either portrait or landscape
  • Information contained in the top bar code can be broken down into more multiple bar codes if required, in order to maintain a larger magnification (bar width)

Label Location

  • Two identical labels, one placed on each fork entry side
  • Label should be placed between 50mm – 100mm from the right hand vertical edge
  • Label should be placed between 400mm – 800mm from the base of the pallet
  • The target placement of the label (top of SSCC bar code) is 600mm from ground level

Label Data and Application Identifiers

  • · SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) – AI (00)
    • It is recommended that additional information not be included in the SSCC (00) bar code unless feasible
  • GTIN of the product – AI (02)
    • The data format for AI (02) is that it has to be numeric and 14 digits in length. Note: that if your carton barcode number is 13 digits, you need to include an additional zero at the beginning to increase it to 14 digits
  • Quantity of trade units on the pallet – AI (37)
  • Date Information YYMMDD – Mandatory if this information is on consumer unit
    • Use By Date – AI (17)
    • Best Before Date – AI (15)
    • Packed on Date – AI (13)
  • Batch Number, if on consumer unit – AI (10)
  • Total Net Weight (excluding wooden pallet weight – A1 (310n) where n = number of decimal places eg. 3102 = x.xxkg, 3101 = xx.xkg, 3100 = xxxkg

What is a Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)

The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) is a reference number or license plate used to uniquely identify logistic units (pallets). In Dynamics AX the Pallet ID is most used for this.

The SSCC acts as a “reference key” which can be stored in a computer system to which information can be added and shared amongst trading partners as the logistic unit moves throughout the supply chain. This unique “license plate” provides the opportunity to track and trace logistic units in the supply chain.

Scanning the SSCC marked on each logistic unit allows the physical movement of units to be individually tracked and traced by providing an information flow. It also opens up the opportunity to implement a wide range of applications such as cross docking, shipment routing, automated receiving etc.

The SSCC is used to uniquely identify goods on the way from sender to final recipient, and can be used by all participants in the transport and distribution chain.

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Figure 3: The Use of the SSCC throughout the supply chain.

Allocating an SSCC

The SSCC is a unique, non-significant, eighteen-digit number which is assigned by the company constructing the logistic unit. It remains the same for the life of the logistic unit. The SSCC is encoded in a GS1-128 Bar Code and is represented by the Application Identifier (AI) 00.

When assigning an SSCC, an individual SSCC must not be reallocated within one year of the shipment date from the SSCC assignor to a trading partner.

How you allocate an SSCC depends on the length of your assigned GS1 Company Prefix. Your company cab ne allocated a seven- to nine-digit GS1 Company Prefix.

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Application Identifier (00)

Used in the GS1-128 Bar Code to identify that the data following is an eighteen-digit Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)

Extension Digit

A digit (0-9) used to increase the capacity of the Serial Reference within the SSCC. The company that constructs the SSCC assigns the Extension digit to the logistic unit.

GS1 Company Prefix:

The GS1 Company Prefix is allocated by GS1 Member Organisations. GS1 allocates nine- or seven-digit GS1 Company Prefixes. It makes the SSCC unique worldwide but does not identify the country of origin of the unit.

Serial Reference:

A Serial Reference usually comprises seven digits (nine digits if the GS1 Company Prefix is seven digits) and uniquely identifies each transport package or logistic unit. The method used to allocate a Serial Reference is at the discretion of the company coding the package. In Dynamics AX this can be the number sequence of a WMS pallet

Check Digit:

Calculated using a mathematical formula.

Logistic Label Location on parcels

For parcels, symbol placement will vary slightly in practice; however the target placement for the bottom of the bar code symbol is 32 mm (1.25 inches) from the natural base of the item. The symbol including, its quiet zones, should be at least 19 mm (0.75 inches) from any vertical edge to avoid damage.

For smaller packages, which may be sorted automatically on a conveyor, the label should be placed on the largest surface.

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Logistic Label Location on pallet

Industry Requirements is a GS1 Logistics Label to be placed on each fork entry side.

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If the pallet height does not permit the pallet labels to be at least 400mm from the ground, then the pallet labels should be placed as high as possible on the right hand side on each of the fork entry sides of the pallet.

If the pallet needs to be stretch wrapped for stability, the pallet labels must be applied to the outside of the stretch wrap as shown above in order to achieve optimum scan rates.

Where there is only one layer high of the trade unit on a pallet and the trade unit height is less than the height of the pallet labels. Please ensure that the bar codes of the labels are on the vertical face of the trade unit with the human readable portion of the labels folded over onto the horizontal surface of the trade unit as shown below.

Typical Retailer Receival Processes

  • On arrival, a receiving checker will key the purchase order number or appointment number (for a multiple PO truck) into the PDA/Radio Frequency (RF) receiving unit.
  • The receiver will then proceed to the first pallet on the truck and scan all of the bar codes on the pallet label.
  • The RF scanner will send the information back to the WMS that will verify the quantities on that pallet against the order quantity on the PO. The WMS also verifies the pallet information is correct and checks that the date code on the item is suitable against the minimum and maximum dates set in the WMS.
  • If the pallet is accepted then the receiver moves along to the next pallet and repeats the process. If the pallet is not accepted the checker will conduct an investigation to identify the issue and will re label with a generic label if required.
  • Once all pallets are received, the checker will confirm the total quantity against the invoiced quantity and then close the load ready for the pallets to be put away by forklifts using RF scanners. The WMS determines the final location in the warehouse during the receival process.

Typical B2B ASN Receival Processes

  • On delivery into any receiving location, a receive checker will count the logistics units, (eg: number of pallets) and compare them to the driver’s consignment note and stamp the document accordingly. This is the initial proof of delivery.
  • The merchandise is then electronically scan receipted once it arrives at receiving locations. The Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) must have been transmitted to the receiving company before the goods arrive in order for it to be validated (and rectified if necessary).
  • Receiving staff will validate that all SSCCs, as noted in the ASN, are physically received by scanning each Logistics label at the receiving dock.
  • When all SSCCs are accounted for, this will trigger the internal processing to update the stock and PO records and provides information to payment systems.
  • Logistic unit contents will be checked to ensure contents exactly match ASN details.

Manufacturer/Supplier Considerations

Pallet Label Quality Standards

Controlling label quality variation requires an integrated quality process incorporating people, processes, procedures and equipment.

Typically there are two options for the application of the pallet label:

  • At the point of manufacture, or
  • At the point of dispatch

The decision on when to apply the pallet label is dependent on individual organizations practices, including manufacturing, warehousing, order assembly or third party service providers.

The SSCC label standards should be incorporated into internal standards and available (electronically) to all factories and warehouses. The same standards are communicated to third party providers both at contract time and by the use of training packages, if necessary. Visual aids are encouraged in factories, warehouses etc to impart SSCC label standards, especially positioning of the labels.

With many automated and manual labeling systems check scanning controls can be purchased as part of the system, providing a level of automated bar code quality checking and control. These systems incorporate a check scanner at the front of the label printer so that as each label is printed the bar code is scanned to check quality. If a fail to read occurs the printer can print void on the erroneous label and re-print. After multiple failures i.e. 2 or 3, the unit will stop and raise an alarm.

Considerations

  • Automate the data sources to simplify printing and reduce the need for data entry.
  • Label design tested and sent to GS1 testing service for its verification report
  • Document processes
  • Train staff to visually
    • check the pallet label and position applied
    • scan label barcodes to ensure readability

Incorporate checks for

  • Correct Bar code symbology (GS1-128)
  • Label placement
  • Label verification
  • Label Defects

Visual Checklist

Does the data encoded in the pallet label bar codes match the product on the pallet eg

  • GTIN
  • Batch number (if applicable)
  • Quantity
  • Date code information, eg. best before or use by date

The pallet labels applied to the pallet must contain the same SSCC. Pallet labels should not be placed over two separate cartons. Pallet labels should be placed on the outside of the stretch-wrap. Determine if any white lines running vertically through the black lines of the bar code that may hinder the bar code from scanning are evident.

Audits

It is recommended to perform a compliance audit of the labels coming from each factory, warehouse and third party provider every quarter. Results should be reported back as percentage compliance and the issues found highlighted, together with photos, if necessary.

Training

It is imperative that anyone that is required to print or apply pallet labels understand

the industry requirements. Training and documentation is widely available.

Use of KPIs

Establish performance metrics as part of the pallet quality checking procedures. This could be plotted graphically by warehouse upon feedback from trading partners.

The data should be circulated to all factories and warehouses including third party logistics providers, each week with any relevant comments. Provide all of the raw data obtained to help find solutions to particular issues. Include the overall trend of performance for the last twelve months

Communicate progress to factory and warehouse managers at regular operations meetings to ensure the focus is maintained on the importance of achieving this and other key supply chain standards.

Third Party (3PL) Logistic Service Providers

  • What role/service are they providing
  • Are they applying labels
  • Have you incorporated them into your logistic unit labeling requirements
  • What label application and quality control process do they have in place
  • Are they scanning any part of the label prior to dispatching goods
  • What is their label printer cleaning and maintenance process

Dynamics AX 2012 WMS training material is now available on partner source.

Partners can download it here. The documentation is for AX 2012 (without feature pack).

The following topics are covered in this training material:

  • Setting Up Warehouse Management
  • Receipt and Storage
  • Item Picking and Shipping
  • RFID in Warehouse Management
  • Quarantine Management
  • Quality Management
  • Inquiries and Reports

Thx Microsoft. Much appreciated.

Split Case Picking: Like a Trip to the Grocery Store?

Sometimes called piece picking, split case picking is one of the most common order fulfillment methods. It is also the easiest way of picking in Dynamics AX 2012, and do not require a lot of setup.

What can a trip to the local grocery store teach us about split case order picking?

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In a split case picking system, individual items are picked from bins or open cartons. This method is sometimes called each-pick or piece picking operations. Most of the time, these operations involve a great many SKU’s – in the tens of thousands at times – and low pick quantities. This is prevalent in e-commerce operations, here items are shipped directly to the customer; parts operations, and other item-intensive operations.

The methods for broken case picking are:

The basic order picking method.

Basic order picking is the way most of us use the grocery store. We have a shopping list, a cart, and we’re off to the races grabbing the things we need for our order (and quite probably some things we don’t).

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In a basic picking system, the product is stored at a fixed location in racking or shelving (sometimes in flow racking or other semi-automated equipment) and pickers walk to it in a manner not too different than the way you buy groceries – items are stocked in a spot and you go get it. Using a pick ticket, the order picker picks a single order, following his route through the static storage area.

The way your warehouse is laid out in relation to the pick ticket is key. You want the route to be the most efficient possible, allowing the picker to work through his picks and end up back at his workstation. The pick ticket should be arranged in the same order the storage is, so that the picker doesn’t have to backtrack to pick any particular order. In a Pareto analysis, the fastest moving items should be the most accessible, closest, and easiest to pick. Analysis of what the fastest-moving items are should be done frequently enough to ensure that your picking flow isn’t a detriment to productivity. If a seasonal change or a market change has altered the fastest movers, it’s worth the time to reconfigure your storage layout.

Travel time is probably the most important basic split-case picking system issue. You should look at your order volume and the number of picks per order – the higher the picks per order, the fewer orders, the more viable a basic system can be.

Basic order picking equipment

  • Industrial Shelving
  • Pallet Rack
  • Carton & Gravity Flow Systems
  • Bins & Totes
  • Packing & Shipping Workstations
  • Order picking carts
Batch picking systems

pallet jack moving an order

To take the grocery shopping analogy further, imagine a store where you and eight other shoppers each split the store up into zones for picking. You pick up the eggs and dairy for everyone while someone else hits the produce aisle, and another person picks up bottled water, soft drinks, and juice. You and the other shoppers in this batch meet at the checkout area to distribute the groceries to each person in the batch. While this sounds like a silly way to shop, it works in a distribution environment.

Orders in a batch system are grouped into “batches” where an order picker picks related groups of SKU’s for each batch in a single pass. Typically, less than a dozen orders comprise a batch.

The picker selects one item or group of similar items for every order in the batch at the same time.

This is especially true when the batch picking system is automated so that the order pickers can easily and quickly identify all the items necessary for their batch. It reduces travel time – after all, you’re only going to one aisle instead of all of them – and you can make additional picks in the same area. Since you’re picking multiple orders simultaneously, you’d have to be sure the orders didn’t get mixed up and one shopper’s cart isn’t given two jars of peanut butter while someone else gets none.

One disadvantage is that orders waiting to become part of a batch aren’t being shipped. This can slow your process and may not work for some operations.

Batch picking equipment

  • Industrial Shelving
  • Pallet Rack
  • Carton & Gravity Flow Systems
  • Bins & Totes
  • Packing & Shipping Workstations
  • Order picking carts
  • Carousels

 

Pick & Pass systems (zone picking systems)

automated conveyor system

Imagine yet another trip to the grocery store. This time, order pickers assigned to a station along that aisle fill your shopping cart as it moves along the process. The pickers don’t move – your cart does – and a picker is responsible for only one small group of products, his specific pick zone.

Consider it the equivalent of an order-picking assembly line. Orders move from zone to zone and the picker responsible for that zone fills the order for picks from his zone only. Typically a conveyor system  is used in this kind of order picking system.

The challenge with pick & pass systems is that you must balance the zones so that one zone isn’t trying to cope with a mass of orders while another is idle. In that fictional grocery store, imagine assigning milk, eggs, and dairy to one zone and beef jerky to another. The first zone will always be trying to keep up while the second zone picker has nothing to do. The busiest zones should be adjacent to the conveyor line, ensuring that the most common picks require little travel time.

Pick & Pass systems are best for large operations where you have lots of sku’s and orders, but not too many picks per each order. In the grocery store analogy, pick & pass might work well for a quick, evening trip for a few things, but not for the weekly family-shopping spree. Pick & Pass also gives you the flexibility to assign certain items to secure pick areas, automated systems, and other specialized pick systems as needed.

Equipment list
  • Automated Conveyor Systems
  • Industrial Shelving
  • Pallet Rack
  • Carton & Gravity Flow Systems
  • Bins & Totes
  • Packing & Shipping Workstations
  • Order picking carts
  • AS/RS Systems
  • Carousels
Wave picking

Wave picking is a hybrid of both pick & pass and batch picking, except that everything for all active orders is picked simultaneously. All the zones are picked at once and consolidated into individual orders & shipments. It would be difficult imagining this working for that mythical grocery store, but the parallel would be that pickers race to get all the banana orders for every shopper who needs bananas as the same time, filling a central shopping cart, then distributing them to shoppers after all banana orders are filled. At the same time, pickers would be working in waves to get peanut butter, cat food, and other items for everyone who wants them, at the same time.

This would typically be the fastest way to get all of a particular item dealt with in a multi-order system where there are plenty of orders, lots of SKU’s, and a good number of SKU’s per order. It’s good for categorizing orders by shipper, route, or region.  Wave picking is not supported directly in AX 2012, but with some investments in a ISV or customization can be well worth. 

Start picking, and happy Daxing.

Source : Cisco-Eagle

AX2012 FP Product receipt from X++

Here the other day I have seen a change in functionallity between AX 2012 (6.0) and AX 2012 Feature Pack (6.1).  At several customers we are using simplified product receipt, where the warehouse worker and do a product receipt from a small PDA screen, after the items has been registrered :

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A small demo X++ code for doing the product receipt is like this (for AX 2009 and AX 2012):

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Put-away Concepts – Part I

This article explains system directed put-away in detail; what it is and how it works. The goal of this article is to help the reader understand the concepts and terminology of system directed put-away. In later postings, I also want to show some tricks how to allow both a system directed put-away and a free put-away, using To-Increase Warehouse Management and Distribution for Dynamics AX.

Locating free locations (put-away) is a key capability of a warehouse management system (WMS). Put-away is normally thought of as the process of moving received inventory from the dock, kitting area, or production department to a storage bin. The put-away process is also used to relocate inventory within the warehouse and to replenish dedicated storage bins with inventory from a reserve storage bin. Any time inventory is being placed in a storage bin it is being put away. System directed put-away is when the WMS chooses the destination storage bin rather than the operator.

The benefits of system directed put-away versus operator directed put-away are

  1. The WMS consistently follows inventory storage rules to improve space utilization and increase storage capacity
  2. The system consistently follows inventory storage rules to make picking more efficient
  3. Warehouse workers do not need to be familiar with all of the products the distributor carries in order for inventory to be placed in the correct bin
  4. It is faster – the operator does not have to look for a bin that contains the same item or search for an open bin. For example:
    1. The WMS can determine if the inventory to be put away will fit in the dedicated bin for the item and send the operator there depending on available capacity and/or lot mixing rules
    2. The WMS can determine if the inventory to be put away will fit in a partially full bin that contains the same item (not the dedicated bin for the item) and send the operator there depending on available capacity, zoning rules, and/or lot mixing rules

A good system directed put-away function finds storage bins based on velocity, storage requirements (refrigerated, hazardous, wire storage system, etc.), and usage requirements. Velocity is how often an item in a specific package configuration (most often called package type) is picked to satisfy sales, transfer, kitting, or production orders. Some examples of package types are carton, pallet, bundle, and bag. There are two key words in the above phrase. The first is package configuration; put-away rules are not just by item, but consider the manner in which the item is packaged as well. The second key word is “picked”. The directed put-away function stores inventory in order to make picking more efficient.

All discussion of system directed put-away is with respect to a single location (warehouse or distribution center). An item in a specific package type at a given location will be referred to as a SKU (stock keeping unit) for the remainder of this article.

An ABC coding scheme is used to assign velocity codes for put-away. A velocity code of “A” is assigned to the SKUs picked most often. A velocity code of “B” is assigned to SKUs picked the next most often, and so on. Note that a velocity code is assigned to a SKU, not an item. For example, a carton of an item could be assigned a velocity code of “A” while a box of the same item could be assigned a velocity code of “C”. Velocity code is not concerned with type of item, weight, dimensions, cost, customer, or vendor; just how often the item is picked. This is a different ABC code than is used for purchasing.

System directed put-away based on velocity stores items picked more frequently in bins that are more accessible (knee to chest high near the shipping dock) and items picked less frequently in bins not as accessible (up high in the back of the warehouse). This reduces travel time during picking which helps to improve picking efficiency.

Package type and storage requirements are considered next when selecting a storage bin. Pallets and individual cartons are usually stored in different areas of the warehouse. The same is true for bundles of threaded rod, spools of wire, and hazardous materials; items that require special storage. Storage areas for cartons may be further broken down for large vs. small cartons or heavy vs. light cartons. Package type and the type of storage used determine the material handling equipment required to put away and pick the inventory.

The third factor to consider for system directed put-away is how the inventory is used. Inventory may be used for sales orders, production, or for kitting. Do orders for clean room supplies only include clean room supply items? If so, then it can be productive to store all clean room supply SKUs together. If sales orders for products from a given vendor only include items from that vendor then it would be productive to store the SKUs from that vendor together. If a customer predominately orders items that only that customer uses, then those customer-specific SKUs should be stored together. Otherwise SKUs should be stored based on package type. No matter how SKUs are grouped for storage (package type, customer, vendor, or type of business) storage bins within each section of the warehouse are selected based on SKU velocity. Other factors can come into play for selecting storage bins, but velocity, package type, and how items are sold work most of the time.

The three factors described above (velocity, package type / storage, and how items are sold) are used to build put-away zone lists. Put-away zone lists tell the WMS how to find a bin for inventory that needs to be put away. There may be put-away zone lists for “A” velocity items stored in full pallet quantities, “C” velocity items stored in boxes, “B” velocity items only used by a single customer, or “B” velocity bundles of threaded rod. Put-away zone lists are specific to a warehouse. Depending on your software you assign a put-away zone list to a SKU or the WMS deduces which put-away zone list to use for each SKU depending on the value of the three factors for the SKU.

A put-away zone list is literally a list of put-away zones. The warehouse is divided into put-away zones. Each put-away zone contains a group of storage bins. The bins in a put-away zone are of roughly equal value for some group of SKUs when the WMS is searching for a storage bin in which to place inventory. For example, a put-away zone may contain bins for fast moving carton items or slow moving bar stock. A section of shelving, floor storage bins, one or more sections of pallet rack, or a cabinet of drawers could be put-away zones.

The first put-away zone in a put-away zone list is the preferred put-away zone for the SKU. The WMS looks first for a bin in which to place the inventory in the preferred zone. If a satisfactory bin is not available in the preferred zone, the WMS looks in the second zone in the list, and so forth, until a suitable bin is found or the put-away zone list is exhausted.

Other rules can come into play when the WMS is looking for a bin in which to place the inventory to be put away.

• The WMS could look for a bin that is dedicated to the SKU first to determine if there is enough capacity available

• The WMS may look for an empty bin in the preferred zone before it looks for a bin with available capacity that already contains the same SKU in another put-away zone

• There could be limitations concerning mixing lots of the same SKU

• Rules about filling a bin that contains the same SKU where the age difference is too great (when there are expiration or recertification considerations) could apply as well

• Additional rules apply to the storage of hazardous inventory

A put-away zone could contain many bins. Each bin in a put-away zone is assigned a put-away bin ranking. The put-away bin ranking tells the WMS which bin is better to choose when the WMS finds more than one bin in a zone in which the inventory could be placed. For example, a bin closer to the dock would be assigned a better (higher or lower depending on your software) put-away bin ranking than a bin that is further from the dock.

 

Source : http://www.distributionstrategies.net

Cross docking (Three)

As I promised in my previous posting I would now like to go through an approach on transportation cross docking in Dynamics AX. This article is meant for experienced Dynamics AX professionals that have deep knowledge both functional and technical to Dynamics Ax, and is a follow up to the last two articles on Cross docking (See Cross docking I (one) and Cross docking II (two))

First a small reminder what transportation cross docking is. Transportation cross docking is used in distribution scenarios, where you have pure cross docking services. The cross docking facilities are often not the legal owner of the goods. The following figure shows the supply flow.

Here the cross docking warehouse is a pure service provider and do only push forward the goods from received from the vendor and internally transport the goods to the correct outbound dock. The warehouse A is not the cost owner of the goods, and it prefers pallets or cartons. At the distribution warehouse B, C the goods are properly received. Some are placed into the warehouse, but some is cross docked again to the outbound dock.

So what do we need to achieve this in Dynamics AX? As far I have seen it is possible, but will require many manual processes. Here an extension to dynamics AX is required. The first steps are to identify the main concepts needed.

Inbound logistics

I would often describe the inbound freight as a trailer or container that delivers goods to a destination or a HUB. If you are using third party bulk transportation, then the cargo is the entity that communication to the carrier is overall based on. The inbound cargo does not have any directly information of the contents, cross docking information, but contains volumetric information, status and delivery time information. Like when it is planned to ship from the vendor/source hub, and when it is planned to arrive to the warehouse/destination hub. There are some industry standards that are commonly accepted, and that is the Cargo 2000 standard, that contains all needed milestones statuses for a carrier. Getting insight into these milestones is vital to be able to plan forward in the supply chain and to be able to plan cross docking. The milestones should be stored as transactions related to the inbound freight to track the goods. Another register called Yard movements should keep track of the goods/trailer/container as it is received at the yard, and scheduled for receive.

Inbound cargo is the first required concept for cross docking, and standard Dynamics AX do not have this term, but in the To-Increase WM&D solution, the Inbound cargo screen looks like this in AX 2009, together with the cargo 2000 milestone statuses:

When receiving goods that should be cross docked, the goods will be directed to the outbound dock, and associated with the right transportation route(See outbound logistics later for a description).

SSCC(Serial Shipping Container Code)

The next requirement is a unique identifier for the goods arriving. This is very often required to be able to handle the incoming goods. With handling we mean being able to plan and execute the needed steps to cross dock. Without a unique identifier this becomes very difficult. What exists in standard AX is the concept “Pallet”. But in AX the pallet is just an identifier, and do not contain any more information than the identifier and the location it is placed. The content of the pallet can be seen as the “On-hand” overview or the transactions related to the pallet.

But in transportation cross docking the warehouse performing the cross docking services do not necessarily have any insight into the purchase order, sales orders or inventory transactions. Another concept is required to support a transportation cross-docking scenario. In WM&D this is the SSCC (also called Outbound Cargo).

The idea behind the outbound cargo, is that it is an entity that do contain all the required information of the SSCC, without having a transactions associated to the SSCC. This is information like ID, status, carrier, addresses and contents information. But there do not need to be any associated inventory transactions related to it. It could be that the SSCC do have reference information at the final receive warehouse/hub. The information on the SSCC is either received as ASN information, or is registered and labeled at the first receive. Labeling is often very important in these scenarios, and must often be carrier compliant.

In WM&D there are also possible to transfer a pallet ID or license plate to a SSCC, and this is automatically done at picking, packing and shipping.

Outbound logistics

Having a good system for outbound freight is vital, because often the planning done here ‘beats the drum‘ for a large portion of the operations. Quite a large portion of the people in a warehouse has tasks related to the picking packing and shipping. In standard AX, the shipments are the tool used for doing outbound logistics. A shipment is a collection of items that are packed in the same container for transport by, for example, ship, rail, truck, or plane. A shipment includes an entire order, a part of an order, or a consolidation of multiple orders. Based on the contents of the shipment, one or more picking routes, one or more internal transports, or both are created. Output order is a request for picking requirements and is the basis of a shipment. From the shipment you can activate an internal transport, a picking route, or both. The shipment status is based on the lowest denominator of the shipment lines status. The shipment is mainly a tool to create picking routes and pallet transports. But more advanced picking, planning and execution is lacking.


Figure: standard AX shipment form.

The architecture in standard AX consists of the following tables :

Figure: standard AX architecture for shipments

As we see here the standard AX do not have any good systems for handling SSCC. It is possible to simulate that the picking routes could “simulate” SSCC, but this leads to many customizations. You may have problems in doing planning and automation, since not much of that exists. Ability to short ship is manually possible, but do require good insight into the transactions. The processes are manual and people must control most of the planning. In WM&D it has been introduced a overlaying system called transportation planning. The transportation planning approach can be visualized like this :


Figure: How transportation planning is related to standard AX processes.

Here all the functionality of std. AX is used, but a planning system has been created. The shipments and picking routes are then the result of the transportation planning.

A transportation route line is the actual route that the transportation needs to go. It can be several pickup addresses and several delivery addresses on a truck route, and each of this combination will have a transport route line. Each transportation route line will have properties like estimated weight, volume and body length/width. A sequence of transport route lines is the destination addresses.

A transport route is in this defined as a planned transportation. The transportation is most often related to a mode of delivery. The transport route has some physical limitations like max payload weight, max volume, max cargo body length/width. The transport route is the “header” of a set of transportation route lines, and is most often represented as a truck or container.

Picture : Transport route and transportation route lines


Picture : Transport route visualized to Google maps. Driving sequence is the numbers on each stop. Truck loading sequence is the reverse of the driving sequence.

The idea here is that all the required output orders will be associated to a transportation route line. These lines can then be planned, either internally in WM&D/AX or in an external route planning tool (or even at the freight forwarder). Then the optimal route can be built, and this is the transportation route. Each line is therefore associated to a transport route.

This gives the possibility to do multisite distribution scenarios with cross-docking capabilities:

Figure : Warehouse D can be set up as a cross-docking warehouse, where items are received from other warehouses or from vendors.

The process will then go through the following steps:

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