DAX 2012 R3 – Kick-back, Bonus and marked support

We often see that vendor’s use loyalty marketing in hopes of nurturing customers to be even better customers. Introducing new products in a marked can be costly, and success is often rewarded based on performance.

We often encounter requirements where vendors is compensating with kick-back, bonuses and marked support on specific products. The agreements can be formulated like; If you sell more than 1000 units per quarter, we will give you a 10% discount on purchased products for that quarter. But the transactions and invoices then may be that the original invoice is on the exact amount, and each quarter a credit note with the bonus is received. The idea behind kick-backs can be controversial, but this is not the topic her.

Having the cost price on the products determined on the actual purchase price give a very good foundation for a healthy business model, and also gives a much better insight to revenues and margins . But this “delay” in the transactions and payments introduces some issues for customers that relies on using inventory models as FIFO, FEFO etc.

  • What is the actual cost price in a scenario with kickbacks?
  • How can we calculate the actual revenue and margins?
  • Does my system support this feature?

If you have Dynamics AX 2012 R3, then you are lucky. There is a very nice way to handle kickbacks effect on product cost prices, and making sure that the cost prices is affected accordingly.

The name of the feature is charges. With charges we make adjustments of the cost prices on the right dates, and on the right transactions. The inventory closing will make sure that the cost prices are settled to the sales orders/issue inventory transactions.

The first step is to create a new charge, that will adjust the cost price on specific invoices, and also post on a selected ledger account.

Then let’s say the following received invoice from 2013 of 200 Surface Pro 128:

I see on the inventory transactions that the cost amount is 179.800 USD.

The vendor now want to give me a kick-back for my effort of managing to sell these old notepads. When they send us a credit note of 50% of the amount, and I want to post this so that the cost price changes on the inventory transactions.

When this is posted it will adjust the cost of the inventory transaction on the selected posting date:

The voucher transactions looks like this.

In AX 2012 R3 the inventory transactions will make the necessary adjustments on the issue transaction.

The next step is to receive and post the invoice from the vendor post it against the selected ledger account on the charge code, and eventually also run the inventory closing procedure.

Conclusion;

There are no need to credit post the purchase order for adding kickbacks, bonuses and marked support etc. It is supported in Dynamics AX 2012 R3.

Happy DAX’ing

 

 

 

 

DAX 2012 Remove reservations and markings from a sales order

Some friends of me have asked how to remove reservations and markings on a sales order. Going through line by line can be time consuming and they wanted to know how this could be solved by a single “click”.

 

static void Tutorial_UnreserveSalesTable(Args _args)
{
    InventTrans             inventTrans;
    InventTransOrigin       inventTransOrigin;
    SalesLine               salesLine;
    InventMovement          inventMovement;
    InventUpd_Reservation   inventUpd_Reservation ;
    SalesId                 SalesId = "001260";//<--- Send/get sales id here

    // Remove reservations and markings on a reserved salesorder
    while select inventTrans
        where inventTrans.StatusReceipt                == StatusReceipt::None
           && (inventTrans.StatusIssue                 == StatusIssue::ReservPhysical 
           ||  inventTrans.StatusIssue                 == StatusIssue::ReservOrdered)
        exists join inventTransOrigin 
            where   inventTransOrigin.RecId            == inventTrans.InventTransOrigin
        exists join salesLine 
            where   salesLine.InventTransId            == inventTransOrigin.InventTransId                    
                &&  SalesLine.SalesId                  == SalesId    
    {
            if (inventTrans.MarkingRefInventTransOrigin)
            {
                InventTransOrigin::deleteMarking(inventTrans.MarkingRefInventTransOrigin, inventTrans.InventTransOrigin, -inventTrans.Qty, true);
                InventTransOrigin::deleteMarking(inventTrans.InventTransOrigin, inventTrans.MarkingRefInventTransOrigin, inventTrans.Qty, true);
            }

            if (inventTrans.StatusIssue == StatusIssue::ReservPhysical || inventTrans.StatusIssue == StatusIssue::ReservOrdered)
            {                
                Inventmovement = inventTrans.inventmovement(true); 
                inventUpd_Reservation = InventUpd_Reservation::newInventDim(inventmovement,inventTrans.inventDim(), -1 * inventTrans.Qty, false); 
                inventUpd_Reservation.updatenow(); 
            }
    }
}

The next step would be to create a class, so that it can be performed in CIL, and some code that refreshes the sales order for the end-user.

AX2012 – How to get Retail Store specific CUE’s

In Dynamics AX, the role center may contain a lot, but some times it is wanted to show more specific and isolated information. In this blog-post I would like to show you how to create a cue that only shows number of sales and amount related to a specific retail store. This blogpost is meant to show the pattern we can use, and is not only restricted to retail. We can use this technic almost everywhere in Dynamics AX.

Here we see a CUE where I show the number of sales and the amount for a specific store. But the nice thing here, it that the values changes depending on what store the user is assigned to.

Do be able to do this we need a dynamic query, that changes the store, depending on the current user, and we need to have a place, where a user is assigned to a store. This is already available in Dynamics AX, and is a setting on the User profiles

So here, I’m assigning a user to a role, and to a store. The next thing I need to have is a way to sum up all the retail sales transactions, and for this I use the form Retail sales transactions.

I then create an advanced filter by using the CTRL-F3, and save as a CUE.

You see here that in the criteria for store number, I write (EGCurrentRetailStoreID()). This is a very nice trick in Dynamics AX. The ability to create dynamic queries. I have blogged about it before here.

The code needed to use dynamic query criteria is located in SysQueryRangeUtil is the following:

This code will return the store ID for the current user. The last step is to select the CUE in the shared role center.

Then you have a CUE, that shows the sales in your local retail store.

 

Happy DAX’ing

New DAX 2012 R3 CU8 Global Retail codeplex solution available

Hi friends.

I’m happy to announce the first release of a new free codeplex solution; Global Retail.

The solution covers:

  1. Global Product price templates – The ability to assign a price template to a product, that will quickly enable retail prices available in different countries and currencies.
  2. Global Product pricing – The ability to set recommended retail prices directly on products. Global prices are posted in price journals to price agreements in all legal entities.
  3. Global Product barcodes – Assign and maintain product barcodes, and it will automatically synchronize to all legal entities.
  4. Simplified Product translations and simplified local pricing screen. Multi dimensional retail hierarchies for filtering, search and availability. Full price log and the use of case management for price change processes.
  5. Simplified file import and export of products, retail hierarchies, barcodes, prices, translations, availability, counting journals. (Excel, csv, xml)

Take a look here > https://ax2012globalretail.codeplex.com/ (more documentation will come later)

PS! This is the real-deal !

Giving away your silver for a golden future


(Picture is borrowed from Robin Dickinson)

In the AX-Ecosystem we see that blogging, sharing and networking is strong and open. Colleagues and knowledge friends find each other across company borders and culture. Quite a lot business is actually created through this community. And those that is not here will struggle to get into position. Some people ask me: “Why are you doing this ?” This quick answer is: “Because I like to, and because it is fun”. But there are more to it than that. Here is the “secret two line” business model of sharing.

  • Give away some ideas, components/code, wisdom and experience – for free – and hope that the dynamics ecosystem (the crowd) will use it.
  • Then do our best to make sure that some of them want to buy more of our ideas, our know-how and our hard-earned wisdom and experience.

Some companies talk about the value of protecting their IP-rights, and they have IP-rights on everything. Down to the little small code samples. But an IP-based business model have some fundamental issues:

  • Revenue is often based on licenses and yearly support fee’s.
  • Requires substantial costs on sales, presales, support and R&D efforts to meet standards and expectations.
  • Keeping it on the “pricelist” have a cost.
  • Customers expect components to be compliant with new Microsoft versions and releases.
  • Bug and Issues are expected to be fixed free of charge.
  • Risks quickly becomes expensive

The assumption is that the revenue must be higher than the costs of maintain and keeping the components on the price list.

However, what we see is that Investments stops. No innovation. Very difficult to find for the customers. Knowledge is lost, and IP based components are often not profitable in long term.

 

So, what kind of things are we talking about ?

  • Small ideas, that would never be a product.
  • Potential reusable components.
  • Customer financed customizations.
  • Basically things we cannot build an ordinary business model on.

One alternative is to use Codeplex as a business model.

  • The Dynamics ecosystem is small. Very easy to get high visibility.
  • Sharing is a very positive message. Can strengthen the your brand.
  • Can increase service revenue. New customers seek knowledge from the sources.
  • Triggers customers “Pull” behavior instead of “Push”.
  • Reach new potential employees that take a pride on sharing their knowledge and ideas.

A few days ago, I wanted to test this approach, so I blogged about a very small code piece I gave away, and wanted to measure the effectiveness, and here is the effect after 2 days.


How much would it cost in traditional marketing and brand building to achieve this reach ? Surely more then the small hour I used to publish it. I can also assure you that by giving away some of your work though sites like codeplex do build brand value and do generate a profitable and golden future.

 

(*From the Coca Cola dude)

Dynamics AX 2012 R3- To exist or not, that is the question!

The advanced filter and query in Dynamics AX is a very powerful tool. Here you can search on most fields, and also add relations to the query.

You can open this advanced query screen from almost any AX screen, and the short-cut is “CTRL-F3”.

But there is one area that the advanced query screen is not handling. That is “Not-exists-join”. Let’s say I want a list of all the purchase orders that DON’T have purchase lines. The standard AX will not help you here. Often a developer must come inn and create a smart query or script to find this. With the introduction of attributes and retail categories, I see the need for this “not-Exists-join” feature to be able to create advanced queries.

I don’t accept this, because I want to empower the end-user to perform such queries. So here is my gift to the Dynamics AX ecosystem; NotExistsJoin directly on the advanced query screen:

Then I can look at the filtered purchase list page, and I only see purchase orders that DON’T have any purchase lines J

This will work allover dynamics AX, even on cue’s and on other query based functionality.

So what’s the trick? A few changes to the following two classes:

Let’s take the changes “one-by-one”, or you can download the code here : https://dynamicsax2012r3notexists.codeplex.com/

Then here is the last change to get a icon on not-exists join:

Have fun DAX’ing 😉

Dynamics AX 2012 R3: Global recommended retail price

Maintaining retail prices in a multi company and franchise scenario can be a challenge in Dynamics AX 2012 R3. Let say we have a retailer with stores in many countries. We often also see owner structures that makes us model the retail chain with many companies.

I’m currently in an implementation to an international retailer present in 22 countries, and it keeps growing every day. To model this we need to create one Dynamics AX company per country and per partner.

The ability to maintain and control prices in such a scenario is a challenge, because prices is a property of a released item. (PriceDiscTable)

So we decided to create very small customization so that we could keep track of prices and item barcodes on the product instead of the released product level.

By doing this, the product managers have one screen where they can create and maintain product prices. The prices can be specified per currency, country and company/partner. But this is not just a simple table, but a two-way frontend for populating the standard AX price tables.

We therefore have a shared table:


The code for publishing prices into standard AX, using the price journal posting looks like this:


void publishProductRetailPrices()
{
    #Admin
    #Zebra
    DataArea                            dataArea;
    PriceDiscTable                      priceDiscTable;
    PriceDiscAdmTable                   priceDiscAdmTable;
    PriceDiscAdmTrans                   priceDiscAdmTrans;
    PriceDiscAdmCheckPost               priceDiscAdmCheckPost;
    InventDimId                         inventDimId;
    Ledger                              ledger;
    CompanyInfo                         legalEntity;
    LogisticsAddressCountryRegionId     countryRegionId;
    #define.ImportPriceDiscJournalName("Prices")
    PriceDiscAdmName                    priceDiscAdmName;

    ttsbegin;
    while select Id from  dataArea where dataArea.Id != #DATCompany
    {
        changecompany(dataArea.Id)
        {
            legalEntity             = CompanyInfo::find();
            ledger                  = Ledger::findByLegalEntity(legalEntity.RecId);
            countryRegionId         = CompanyInfo::find().postalAddress().CountryRegionId;
            this.createOrUpdatePriceGroup();

            if (this.RefCompanyId       == dataArea.Id ||
                this.CountryRegionId    == countryRegionId ||
               (this.RefCompanyId == "" && this.CountryRegionId == "" && this.CurrencyCode == ledger.AccountingCurrency))
           {
                if (InventTable::exist(this.ProductNumber))
                {
                    priceDiscAdmName = this.findOrCreatePriceDiscAdmName(#ImportPriceDiscJournalName,"@SYS342509");

                    priceDiscAdmTable.clear();
                    priceDiscAdmTable.JournalName       = priceDiscAdmName.JournalName;
                    priceDiscAdmTable.Name              = priceDiscAdmName.Name;
                    priceDiscAdmTable.insert();

                    priceDiscAdmTrans.clear();
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.initValue();
                    inventDimId = InventDim::findOrCreateBlank().InventDimId;

                    while select firstonly priceDiscTable
                        where   priceDiscTable.Relation         == PriceType::PriceSales
                            &&  priceDiscTable.ItemCode         == TableGroupAll::Table
                            &&  priceDiscTable.ItemRelation     == this.ProductNumber
                            &&  priceDiscTable.AccountCode      == TableGroupAll::GroupId
                            &&  priceDiscTable.AccountRelation  == #RRP
                            &&  priceDiscTable.Currency         == this.CurrencyCode
                            &&  priceDiscTable.InventDimId      == inventDimId
                            &&  priceDiscTable.PriceUnit        == this.PriceUnit
                    {
                        priceDiscAdmTrans.initFromPriceDiscTable(priceDiscTable);
                    }
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.Relation         = PriceType::PriceSales;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.ItemCode         = TableGroupAll::Table;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.ItemRelation     = this.ProductNumber;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.AccountCode      = TableGroupAll::GroupId;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.AccountRelation  = #RRP;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.Currency         = this.CurrencyCode;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.InventDimId      = inventDimId;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.PriceUnit        = this.PriceUnit;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.JournalNum       = priceDiscAdmTable.JournalNum;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.QuantityAmountFrom  = 0;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.Amount           = this.Amount;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.UnitId           = InventTable::find(this.ProductNumber).salesUnitId();
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.SearchAgain      = NoYes::Yes;
                    priceDiscAdmTrans.insert();
                    if(priceDiscAdmTable.RecId)
                    {
                        priceDiscAdmCheckPost = new PriceDiscAdmCheckPost(false);
                        priceDiscAdmCheckPost.initJournalNum(priceDiscAdmTable.JournalNum);
                        priceDiscAdmCheckPost.run();
                        infolog.clear();
                    }
                }
            }
        }
    }
    ttscommit;
}

Project Quotes

The fall is high season for Dynamics AX projects, and we can often feel the pressure to make sure we can go-live. We have tons of different tools and suggestions to help us reach our goal. Like SureStep, RapidValue, LiveCycleServices, InfoSource and all kinds of methods to be in control, agile and lean in our projects. There is one project tool that is underestimated for successful implementations; Having fun !

Here are some project statements that can help us through the milestones; Enjoy!

Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after.

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think.

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.

To estimate a project, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project.

There are no good project managers – only lucky ones.

Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.

If you don’t attack the risks, the risks will attack you.

If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.

If it wasn’t for the ‘last minute’, nothing would get done.

If an IT project works the first time, it is wrong.

Schedule – cost – quality: you can have any two.

A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

A project gets a year late one day at a time.

A project as not over until the fat cheque is cashed.

A problem shared is a buck passed.

A minute saved at the start is just as effective as one saved at the end.

 

And remember; Creativity is intelligence having fun (Albert Einstein)

 

Dynamics AX 2012 R3 > Retail Essentials

I have been looking into a concept called Dynamics AX “Retail Essentials”. Retail essentials is a retail-centric configuration option for Microsoft Dynamics AX. Retail essentials provides a simplified, streamlined user experience that is optimized for organizations that use only the retail management functions of Microsoft Dynamics AX. Retail essentials is ideal for companies that have less complex requirements, and that have to manage only brick-and-mortar stores. In this configuration, access to typical Microsoft Dynamics AX functions is limited. Additionally, omni-channel retail capabilities such as e-commerce are not available.

To enable the Retail essentials, there is a configuration key that must be disabled.


So the change is for all companies, and applies to the entire installation.

What then happens is that the menu structure and screens changes dramatically. Only the «Retail essentials» menus are available. No other menus!


Also forms like Sales order and Purchase order changes quite a bit. Here is an example of what happends with purchase orders:



In total the following forms is “retail essentials” enabled:

CustTable, EcoResProductCreate, EcoResProductDetails, HcmJob, HcmPosition, HCMWorker, LogisticsPostalAddress, PirceDiscAdm, PurchCreateorder, PurchTable, RetailParameters,Vendtable. And also the list pages related to this.

Personally I like the idea of having a reduced the complexity in the store. But I don’t like that this is an “on/off” feature for the entire Dynamics AX 2012 R3 application.

If you would like to differentiate this on/off feature based on user/company/access rights etc, there is a central class that controls this behavior : RETAILSMB.


There are surely many other pitfalls, but it may be worth a try. It can surely make our retail store implementations easier for the store end users.

Happy DAX’ing

Generic prices in Dynamics AX 2013 R3

In Dynamics AX 2012 R3 you can specify a sales price on a released item. You cannot specify a price on a set of products using the trade agreements.

I wanted to change this, so that AX 2012 R3 do have the possibility to have a price that is used by many released products. Here is what I did:

First I created a new field on the item master sales (InventTableModule):

Then I made it possible to create sales price groups, and to specify prices per currency for this price group:

Then when creating sales order it selects the generic price.

With this little change I can now control prices on thousands of released products, and rather to put individual prices on each item, I just classify each item to a price group. Let’s say I have 10.000 released products and prices in 6 currencies this would minimum have resulted in 60.000 records in the price agreement table. If I in addition have 10 companies where I also want to use the prices, this results in 600.000 records on prices.

If I have standardized my pricing levels to consumer oriented prices, and using the sales price group, I would only need to maintain 60 * number of price groups. Just a fraction J

To make this happen, the following objects needs to be modified:

If you come across a similar requirement or you need this, feel free to contact me on the blog J

Happy DAX’ing

AX 2012 R3 : Do not enable WMS-II and the new Warehouse and Transportation management in the same installation

In DAX 2012 R3 we have received a new module for Warehouse and Transportation, that Microsoft acquired from Blue Horseshoe. In time it is expected that this will replace the WMS-II module that have been existing in Dynamics AX since version 2.0.

But there are some limitations that you need to be aware of. You should not enable both WMS-II and the new Warehouse and Transportation management configuration key. If you do so, then the following “red” issue will appear:

I asked Microsoft if they could come with an official statement regarding this issue, and here it is:

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 includes new Warehouse and Transportation Management modules that are enabled by a single configuration key, along with the previously released Warehouse Management II module. Users should enable the configuration key for ONLY ONE of these modules, but not both, in a single-instance, single-partition deployment. Although technically feasible, enabling the configuration keys for both of these modules in a single-instance, single-partition deployment is not supported by Microsoft. This combination may result in a serious loss of data or the creation of incorrect data, which could block or interrupt business processes, impair future upgrades, or cause other adverse effects to your system or business operations. Microsoft is not liable for damages that result from your use or enablement of both of these modules in a single-instance, single-partition deployment. If you use or enable, or attempt to use or enable, both of these modules in a single-instance, single-partition deployment, Microsoft’s maximum, aggregate liability for this unsupported configuration is limited to direct damages in an amount not to exceed US$1.00. By downloading, installing, using or attempting to download, install, or use Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, you have agreed to these terms, which are a supplement to the Software License Terms for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3. See License code and configuration key reference for more information about enabling the configuration keys for the new Warehouse and Transportation Management modules or the Warehouse Management II module. The Warehouse and Transportation management configuration key is enabled by the Trade and Logistics license code, and the Warehouse management II configuration key is enabled by the Warehouse management II license code”

What this means technically is that the two following configuration keys should not be enabled together:

Since the “Warehouse management II” is locked, it means that you need to remove the licensekey for Warehouse management II.

I have also been asked by customers, what is the WMS II, and what would we loose if we want to use the WAX/TRAX ? And here is a list of features that is depending on WMS-II.

  1. WMS-forklifts
  2. Picking locations on warehouse items
  3. Location blocking causes

  4. Shipping templates
  5. Outbound rules
  6. Shipment reservation sequences and reservation combinations
  7. Store zones

  8. Store area’s
  9. Pallets and pallet types
  10. Pallet transport handling
  11. In addition everything related to consolidated shipping will also be removed, and just order picking will remain.

If you want to be support compliant, you need to take a clear choice of WMS-II or WAX/TRAX before starting any implementation or upgrade.

 

Running Dynamics AX R3 on Azure

To install and use Dynamics AX R3 on Azure is easy to setup is ready within 15 minutes.

All you have to do is to log into https://lcs.dynamics.com/

Then create a project, and click on the “Cloud hosted environments(Beta)”

Then click on the “plus” to deploy the image, and give it a name.

Let it run for 15 minutes, and the image is now available in the Microsoft Azure portal.

Then Click on the “Connect” button, and you will receive a RDP-file you can use to log into the image.

PS!

Here is some small tips for improving performance:

  1. Change the power plan to High Performance
  2. Set performance options in the VM to “Best performance”
  3. Run index rebuild/re-organize on both data and model database, as described here.
  4. I also “pimped-up” my VM images with 8 CPU and 56 Gb Ram, to get the best possible performance.(But it cost!)

 

Congratulation you are now “certified” for deploying Azure demo images for Dynamics AX 2012 R3:

 

 

AX 2012 R2 – Cross docking for smaller warehouses

Based on some customer requirements, a simplified generic “Cross-docking” solution have been created. When items is received, it was wanted that Dynamics AX should try to suggest a crossdock – putaway location on those arrival lines that could be sent within a spesified horizon. Also to mark the receipt and issue inventory transactions.

To accomplish this a new query based cross-docking setup screen have been created.

Here as many cross-docking rules as needed can be set up.

The main fields are:

Warehouse – where the rule is effective
Priority – search sequence of the rules
Crossdocking location name – Name of the rule/description of the location
Crossdocking horizon – number of days to look forward
Enable crossdocking – On/off parameter to enable/disable this crossdocking rule.

Then there are two query criteria that is used:
Receipt criteria : Is used to select what receipts that could be cross-docked, and is based on purchase and arrival lines. Create additional critiera like vendors, projects, items and item groups.
Issue criteria : Is used find crossdocking candidates, and is based on sales lines.

The grid is a view only, and shows show the query selection. This is for simplyfing the readability of the query.

To change the query, click on the “select values”, to get up a standard AX query Screen.

Some criteria lines are gray, meaning that they have been locked, and cannot be changed to the user. Some of the criteria is also dynamic values, like the confirmed shipdate that also handles orders there only requested shippingdates have been filled.

The receive process can be drawn like this:

This will result in a arrival journal that looks like this:

The Cross-docking feature will also work the same in the DCS/PDA solution.

 

Solution study in a medium complex crossdocking scenario.

Here I will show the crossdocking solution in action, when having multiple salesorders and where also some goods are crossdocked, and some are put to the warehouse.

First, the Crossdocking rules. I decided to test the scenario with 2 rules. One for each customer.

The first rule «priority1», covers ONLY item 100, and customer no-001, and outbound dock Out_01

The secound rule, covers all items, but ONLY customer DMO-100, and outbound dock Out_02

Then I create a small purchase order with the items 100 and 101, with 10 each.

I then create 2 sales orders both with the items.

I then want to use the DCS to create the receive:

As seen in the last DCS screen, we see that 5 lines is remaining. This because the 2 purchase lines, have been split to one line per destination. If we look at the Arrival journal in AX, we can see this split. The Yellow lines is the “cross-docking” lines.

If we look down at the inventory transactions, and check out the inventory marking we see the transaction effect of the cross-docking.

As seen here, the purchase is correctly marked against two sales orders. We also see that the inventory transactions for the sales order is reserved ordered:

If we continue with the DCS receive process, the user will be informed that the receive line is a cross-docking, with the correct quantity and also suggest the cross-docking location specified in the cross-docking setup

When all lines have been received, then the user clicks Post, and can then also post the product receipt list:

If we also check out the sales orders, we see that the reservation has been changed to “reserved physical” towards the location that was selected as the put-away location.

 

Post to Codeplex ?

AX 2012 R2 – Zoneless pick customization

A customer of me wants to perform consolidated picking, but do want to control on the shipping template if the picking routes should be split per picking area.

image

So the solution was to create a boolean parameter for this on the shipping template:

image 

Then this can be controlled in the consolidated picking creation process:

image

That’s it.  Shipping template based Zoneless pick achieved in a consolidated picking scenario.

Happy DAX’ing

AX 2012 R2 – Where is the picking lines created ?

In R2 there are several steps and places that picking routes/Picking lines are created, depending if you have an order-based picking or consolidated picking.

The fundamental element for a picking route is output orders, that acts as the basis.

And Output orders are created through the class\WMSOrderCreate:

clip_image001

As soon as the WMSOrder is created, it can try to attach itself to a shipment (consolidated scenario)(Also WMSOrderCreate)

clip_image002

If you follow the trace in the wmsOrder.autoAddShipment() you will get to the code where the WMSOrderTrans is created.

WMSOrderTrans is created here

clip_image003

And here :

clip_image004

The final step is the creation of the WMSPickingRoute, that happens in the shipment reservation.  And inside this method you will also find the creation process for the picking route.

clip_image005

So the sequence and steps for creating a picking route is the following :

1. WMSOrder is created

2. WMSShipment is created

3. WMSOrderTrans is created

4. WMSPickingroute is created

Also remember that the structure of shipmentId, PickingrouteID’s is very loose entities, and is not strongly anchored to inventTrans. So it is possible to move wmsorderTrans transactions between pickingroute and shipments quite easily by using X++.

 

Happy DAX’ing

Output orders and lines

The following post, is a bit advanced, and I guess that 90% of all implementations never encounters any issues related to this. But if you struggle with open inventory orders that “locks” your sales orders, then this post can bring some lights to it. It is valid for both AX 2009 and AX 2012.

In Dynamics AX you can split up the picking of a sales order (or any other issue-based orders) by using output orders (WMSOrder) and picking lines (WmsOrderTrans). The picking line lines can be “split” into several lines, if the quantity needs to be picked from several locations. As seen in the example below, you see one output order with 2 picking lines.

The quantity of the output order that is included in a shipment can be seen as this:

If I open the shipment related, I can see the same lines:

When you manually delete one(or all) of theese from the shipment lines

Then we see in the output order that if changes:

But the inventory transaction (inventTrans) does not change.

I often see people struggle in such scenario’s, because they feel “locked” by this marking on the inventory transaction. Often warehouse workers wants to make the “deleted” lines free and available to be places on a new picking route.

There is a way out of this, but it requires a small code change.

This will reduce the quantity on the output order, and making the inventory transaction “available” again to be reserved, and even to create a new picking route on the deleted lines.

Happy DAX’ing.

 

All X++ source code for Dynamics AX R3 available

Rumors says that in the upcoming AX 2012 R3, the entire library of X++ code will be available for Partners and Customers. The Dynamics community embraces this approach and says that this makes it possible for new solutions and ideas to be built 100% integrated with the Dynamics AX platform. Microsoft have even make it possible for others to share, using the codeplex.

A business analyst describes what’s happing as:

“All too frequently, SMBs and enterprises deploy expensive closed ERP systems, not realizing that significant cost savings and flexibility can be realized through the use of openness of Dynamics AX. And coupled with a near-instant deployment using Azure will allow many more companies to realize the benefits of ERP-systems with an open and available source code.”, says Kurt Hatlevik, a Dynamics AX nerd.


Competitors has described this approach as a “cheap” way to build a DAX-community and ecosystem. They argue that their own approach for proprietary closed systems is the only way forward to maintain a high revenue stream and customer dependence.

This is not a April’s-fool, but a Aprils-fact J

Update: Dynamics AX has always had an open X++ source code.  This post was a April’s-joke.

 

 

 

Dynamics AX: Why simplicity always wins

The Dynamics ecosystem love to complicate things. And now with the AX 2012 R3 it can really get complex, with the biggest codebase ever. The more functionality we demand to get into Dynamics AX, the better it will become, and the more we can sell, right?

Wrong.

Simplicity wins. Every time. (iPod, anyone?)

As a Dynamics AX “expert”, I get to hang out with other Dynamics AX “experts” (and we act all clubby and hip and cool like it’s some secret club – but it really is). In those circles I get to see and hear a gajillion awesome features that allows us so solve ANY problem. (Basically because the solutions is sets of LEGO-bricks we are selling, and you can build anything with LEGO)

Oftentimes, many of the solutions is over-complicated complex. For the ones that isn’t, the difference between a winning or losing solution invariably comes down to simplicity and elegance.

The Fix

Look folks – if we want to win in the ERP-marketplace, we must focus more on simplicity (twitter’s 140 characters anyone?). A few things to think about:

– What EXACTLY is the problem we are trying to solve? Do a lot of people have it and want it to go away?

– What’s the CURRENT way our customers treating the problem? THAT’S our competition – it’s their next-best alternative relative to your proposed solution. THAT’S what your solution has to beat (both from a capability and cost standpoint including accounting for switching costs).

– What’s the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM solution you need to put on the market to solve the problem? BUILD THAT and validate you have a solution that works.

Stop making solutions so hard, complex, and confusing. We are wasting investment dollars that instead could be used for marketing and scaling our much simpler (and cheaper to build) alternative solutions.

Create solutions that only require a few weeks of implementation time, and that is so easy to use that it can be trained in minutes.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci

WMS and voice pick with Google Glasses (Sci-Fi)

With the WMS and voice pick for Google Glasses you can revolutionize your supply chain and warehouse processes. Google glasses will

  • You will have both hands free
  • Directly connected to your ERP system
  • Support real time transactions like receiving, picking, counting and shipping
  • Guide the warehouse worker in all the processes both by voice and by visual graphics
  • Voice pick, scan barcodes using the built-in camera or use Bluetooth connected barcode scanner
  • Connect directly with vendors and customers when working with issues or questions

The only problem is that such a solution does not exist. The google glasses are still in the experimental phase, and it will still be a while before it is available as a commercial consumer product. But Google Glasses has been opened for commercial actors to create such applications and possibilities.

Who have the willingness and the resources to create such a solution ?

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:

AX 2012: Future item reservation requirements

Those of us that have completed large scale Dynamics AX warehouse implementations knows the importance of having a control of item reservation. Dynamics AX 2012 supports several algorithms for reserving the right goods to a sales order(or any other issue transaction).

We can mainly classify the reservations into the following reservation types :

  1. Reserved ordered
  2. Reserved physical    

We can also them into categories:

  1. Normal” reservation
  2. FEFO and batch expiry date reservation
  3. Shipment reservation

But if you start looking deeper into the algorithms in AX 2012 R2 that actually performs the reservation, it is more or less located in the class InventUpd_Reservation.

The reservation in AX 2012 is pretty much user based, meaning that either a user/batch runs a process, and the reservation is done. There are a few exceptions where Dynamics AX 2012 will physically reserve goods when they arrive. But this relates to transactions that is already reserved ordered, or does have an inventory marking.

The way Dynamics AX 2012 is reserving, works in most cases OK, but there are a bit more functionality we would love to have. And here is my “wish list”:

  1. Reservation hierarchy. This means that when you create the sales order/transaction you may reserve on site/warehouse level. The customers order is physically reserved, but the system has not yet decided from where it actually should be picked from. When the picking route is created, then the reservation is sharpened down to more a detailed reservation specifying like location. At the TECH2014 it was shown that this will be there in future releases for a one-level reservation hierarchy. What I would love to see, is more levels, like 2 or even 3 levels. Meaning that you may start with site level. Then maybe after master planning or some other process, the reservation is sharpened down to warehouse. When the picking route is created then it could further be sharpened down to location or batch. In short, we want more reservation levels, because this gives us control and flexibility.

     

  2. Reservation period. The concept of reservation period means that you can control WHEN the reservation should happen. If you create a sales order with delivery date 6 months ahead, you don’t want to “lock the stock”, and waiting for the delivery date. If the items, let’s say only have 14 days lead time, why not have an engine that performs the reservation at the right time. And even more importantly, if a customer moves his requested delivery date, then the reservation engine should be able to “lift” the reservation back to “reserved ordered” or even back to “ordered”.

     

     

  3. Order Reservation sequence. We often know the concept of “first ordered – first served”. Some customers signals their demand and orders early to secure that they get the goods on their requested date. Then you have “bad” customers that needs the goods today, and just orders right when he needs it! The way Dynamics AX works, is that it does not give any customers any priority other than the delivery date. Meaning that you very easily could end up in a situation where the “good” customer could end up in a situation where the “bad” customer actually managed to physically reserve the limited goods. We need mechanism that would allow the “good customer” to be prioritized when limited goods should be reserved. A “ATP-sequence ID” should solve this issue, and making sure that customers that orders early and gives good visibility of their demand is more secure in getting their items on time.

     

  4. Reservation Location sequence

    In a warehouse we can have inbound, buffer, picking and outbound locations. But we can also have fast and slow locations. Items can also exists in multiple locations to prevent hotspot areas, or certain area is for different sales channels (like one for retail stores, one for eCommerce etc) It would be lovely to have a better control from what location should be prioritized depending on some criteria. Also when building up the picking route I could decide from witch location would be best to take the goods out from. I know from TECH2014 that the concept of location directives will be introduced in future releases, and we are looking forward to learn more about this.

Looking forward to see what the future brings. I have a feeling that 50% of my wishes will come true in AX 2012 R3.

AX 2012 Consignor solution available on CodePlex

The tool can be downloaded at http://ax2012consignor.codeplex.com/

There are some additional information that needs to be addressed. So here is my “What does the FAQ’s say” ?

Question

Answer

What is the Consignor solution?

The Consignor integration tool made available for Dynamics AX is a multipurpose tool for creating, exporting and importing CSV-files, XML-files or Excel spreadsheets.

Is it a generic solution?

The tool should be regarded as a generic tool, but as the name suggest, it does have a ready to use integration to Consignor. CONSIGNOR is a system designed for easy and efficient printing of labels, to address and send goods which are to be handled and delivered by a range of carriers, for example Posten Norge, Bring, Schenker, Tollpost, DSV, DHL, Nor Lines, Ramberg, and many more who use EDI data. CONSIGNOR may also be used to print labels for carriers who are not set up to handle EDI data. For an updated list of EDI supported carriers, please see Consignors website http://www.edi-soft.com/.

Who can use the tool?

The tool has been specifically created to enable end-users and business consultants to perform data export and import, without knowing how do develop in Dynamics AX and X++. Creating an export/import definition can be done in a few minutes.

Can this replace my other integration solutions?

No. This tool has a specific purpose to easily extract data from Dynamics AX. It is not built to replace or compete with any other integration solution.

How much does it cost?

Nothing it’s free at CodePlex. But if you can add more functionality to it, it is expected that you share with the community.

Is it fast?

No. It’s is not very fast. When exporting to Excel it is capable of a 15-20 lines per second. Exporting to XML or CSV is a bit faster.

Can it import data?

Yes it can import data from. But this is a alfa release, meaning that more testing is required. The logics for evaluating the import must in many cases be developed in separate classes to perform as needed.

How can I get help?

On CodePlex there are some documentation. But you can also add questions and report issues.

Is it difficult to install?

No. For now, the solution is exported as a XPO with a Zero footprint in AX. Later we will add it as a model. The current build is done with AX 2012 R2 CU7. Please remember to check the “issue list” before you install.

Can I have a demo?

Yes. Nice people can have a demo. Just ask meJ

 

Happy DAX’ing J

Import/Export: Reinventing the wheel

I was suppose to create a small tool for simplifying integrations to freight forwarders, but I ended up with an easy to use and zero footprint import/export solution. I wanted to create a solution that was easy to use for end-customers and business consultants, enabling them to very easily create CSV, XML and Excel files.

The Consignor integration tool made available for Dynamics AX is a multipurpose tool for creating, exporting and importing CSV-files, XML-files or Excel spreadsheets. The tool has been specifically created to enable end-users and business consultants to perform data export and import, without knowing how do develop in Dynamics AX and X++. The feedback I have received colleagues is very good, and it works as a basis for the upcoming consignor integration.

  1. How to use the consignor integration

    For an end user it is very easy to use the tool. There are two approaches to start the export.

  2. Export file using short-cut

    In Dynamics AX it is possible to short-cuts. For the Consignor, this short-cut is CTRL-Z. Then the following menu will be visible, if there exists a defined consignor format.


    Here the user can select a predefined format. If a Excel format is selected, then Excel will be opened and filled in. Also if XML or CSV is selected, a file containing the defined format will be opened.


    Export file using Menu

    It is also possible to create menu buttons to start the export, and this require a small “drag-and-drop” of a menu item to the form you want to have the consignor integration activated on.


    How to setup an integration

    The consignor integration setup is located under system administrationàperiodic, and consists of two menu items.

    Consignor menu

    In the consignor message types, the definition of the integration is setup.

    The consignor messages is all logged messages, when this are enabled for an integration.

    Consignor message types

    The consignor message types, it the form that is used to defines integrations. The form contains several settings, and in this chapter all fields are described.


    Message file details

    Field Description
    Message type Unique identifier of the integration. This is the name that the user will select, when selecting an integration type.
    Name Name of the integration type
    Note A small note can be added. Use this to log changes made to the integration.
    Approved Select if the integration is approved. Only approved integrations can be selected by the user. Also, when approved, the integration cannot be changed
    Include column names When exporting to a CSV file, the first line can contain the fieldnames. For Excel and XML this parameter have no effect.
    Log message To log all messages, enable this parameter.
    Open file After a file has been exported, the consignor integration can open the file. CSV files will normally be opened in Excel, and XML will be opened in internet explorer. But it’s the windows file association that decides when program to use when opening the file.
    Import/Export Define if the definition is an export, or an import. In the initial release, import is only supported using CSV files. But this will be changed in future releases.
    File type Select the file type of the export/import. The following format are available: Comma Separated File(CSV), XML and Excel.
    File path File path where the export files will be exported, and where files will be imported from.
    Archive file path When importing a file, from the “file path”, the file can be moved to the “Archive file path”. The reason for this, is because when importing files, the import batch-job can read a folder, and fetch all files that is dropped into this folder.

    Message datasource setup

    Field Description
    Source Class It is possible to select a predefined class, where all the fields have been setup. This simplifies creating integrations. The source class also provides support for more complex integrations that require coding to perform. When a source class is selected, the Main table is also automatically given. The field is not mandatory. For a detailed, list of available source classes se the appendix 1 for source classes.
    Main Table identifier All integration need to have a main table identifier. This is used to help the selection of what integrations that can be used, based on the data when the integration is started. If the user is on the customer form, then only integrations that have the customer table defined in the Main Table Identifier can be selected.
    Query setup The consignor integration supports quite complex data structures, where information is fetched from different tables, and display methods. The query will use available relations to present what can be associated with the main table. Right click on the data source to select what tables you want to add. Both n:1 and 1:n relations is supported, but in a 1:n relation, only the first record in the applied relation will be used in the integration
    Button:Criteria The criteria button is used to simplify the consignor message type selection. If the user have several integrations for different customers, then it is possible to define a selection query, so that the correct integration is presented to the user.
    Button:Reset Resets the query, leaving only the main table left.

    Message field setup

    Buttons Description
    Add a new field to the consignor integration definition
    Remove the selected fields from the integration
    This button will create all the fields for the integration, based on the source class.
    This button will create all the fields, based on the query that is associated with the integration.
    Renumber will renumber the fields, so that no fields have the same number. The field field will get the value 1, and so on.
    Multi select fields, and activate/deactivate the fields.
    Field Description
    Field ID This is the name of the field. When manually creating a integration, it will be the column name, or the XML tag identifier. If a source class is selected, normally the fieldname is automatically provided.
    Type The field type can be a database field, Class method, display method or a free text. Selecting Field means that the value is fetched from the associated table and field.
    Class method, means that the value is fetched/calculated in the associated source class. Display method, means that the value is fetched from a table display method.

    Free Text means that the values is defined in the default value field.

    Table Tables means the table where the value is selected from. Since the data source can be a query, there can be several tables to select data from.
    Field This is the field from the selected table. If the type is a display method, then the name of the display method can be selected here. For Class methods, it is not necessary to select a field. But when importing data, the data will always be placed in the field defined.
    Default value When exporting or importing data, and the source is missing a value, then the default text will be used.
    Description Just a textual description of the field. By default the text here is fetched from the help field in the extended data type.
    Active Only active fields will be imported/exported. Fields that is not active will be filtered away on approved messages.
    Field number The field number defines the sequence that the fields will be defined in a file. In a CSV file, field number 1 will be first, followed by 2. The field number can be defined manually, or automatically by using the “renumber” button. The field number can also be moved up/down by using the “up/Down” buttons.
    Unique index field This field indicates will this field should be regarded as a unique index field. When importing data, sometimes we want records to be updated instead of being inserted. To find the associated record to update, the Consignor integration will use all “unique index fields” to find the record to be updated.
    Mandatory Fields can be defined as mandatory. This means, that when importing, this field needs to be filled in.

    Export format setup

    The export format is used to defined if the “export dialog” should be presented to the user.

    Field Description
    Worker Name of the worker
    Show dialog Indicates if the “export dialog” should be presented to the user.

    Other menu items

    In the top of the form, there are some more buttons.

    Button Description
    Create a new integration
    Delete an integration
    Shows logged messages
    Manually export data, using a query window
    Import messages by selecting a file, or by selecting a path to fetch all the files from. The import can also be set in batch, and can periodically be executed to import the files.
    To improve performance, the consignor integration does a lot of caching of export/import definition. When changing on an existing integration, the cache should be reset, by clicking on this button.

    Consignor messages

    All consignor import/exports can be logged, so that the exported/imported values is documented. There is a small performance penalty on logging messages.

    Field Description
    Message A unique message ID
    Message type Type of the message
    Processing date Date the message was imported/exported
    Worker Name of the worker that performed the import/export
    Import/Export Import/export type
    Filename Name of the file that has been exported/imported.

    Field values

    In the field values, all the field values are presented.

    Field Description
    Field ID Name of the field. This is used on column name, or in a XML tag.
    Field number The field number that is used
    Field value Value of the field
    Description Description of the field
    Multi line Field value In the bottom there is also a field that shows a multiline version of the value. Fields like addresses is often multiline, and will be correctly represented here.

    I hope to release the tool to CodePlex in the beginning of 2014.

    Happy DAXing J

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.

SYNC for AX 2012 R2 CU7

A few weeks ago, I released the Kitting solution on Codeplex, and WOW!   Now 307 downloads on kitting for AX 2012 R2 CU6.   We also have a lot of people that wants to participate to further develop the kitting.  MSDynamicsWorld.com also created a story on this here. This commitment to the community truly inspires me.

I have therefore uploaded an AX 2012 R2 CU7 release of the kitting, that can be downloaded.

I also have released another small tool for master data synchronization. It’s called SYNC for AX 2012 R2 CU7, and is available on Codeplex here. Check it out.

image

Happy DAX’ing !!

My Dynamics AX preselling tips.

I have done countless pre-sales Dynamics AX presentations, both on-line and in-person in front of a potential customer. I wanted to share some of my thoughts, techniques and topics that works for me. I’m not saying they will work in all settings, but I normally get good feedback.

My first step is to think through the presentation beforehand. I first want to find the story that I want to bring to the audience. I have a passion for power point, but I don’t use a lot of text on them. I try to have pictures, screenshots and bullet points.

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It is important for me to tell the story, not just read it. So when I do my presentation I’m trying to bring them into my story. I’m trying to explain the WHY and not the HOW. WHY do we have a role center? WHY does the sales order screen look like it does?

And I also do some real demo’s in Dynamics AX, and my favorite list of short 1-2 minutes demo’s are:

Role based navigation and organization hierarchy

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Tip : Use the CFO role center. Fantastic graphics and a fun overview.

Create new customer/Create a sales order

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Tip : Cleanup the screen upfront, so that only the needed fields show. Use the “hide” function extensively. Sales orders is a very common core function, and we must show how easy it actually is.

Export to Excel

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Tip: Show it…. And smile BACK to the audience. They will love this.

Add some of your own flavor.

Most of us have our own small add-ons implemented at our customers. I have the DCS/PDA and label printout.

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Advanced – Show supply schedule

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Tip: Put some data in. Makes it more fun to look at.

Advanced – Show the BOM designer

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Tip: Drag and drop, or just double click to add items to your BOM.

Advanced – Show the action messages graph

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Tip : Explain the “apply”, and show it. Tell that it can really save inventory carry cost.

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Tip: Run master planning first, to show how action messages affects each order

Advanced – Show the new retail eCommerce sites

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Tip: The clean design gives good inspiration. But build down the expectation. A lot of work is needed to bring such a site online for a customer.

Advanced – Show sales/purchase category

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Tips: Tree structures are easy to understand.

Advanced – Show resource capacity and reservations

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Tips: Add data !

Advanced – Show gantt plan

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Funny

Show the two games we have: Tetris and horse race

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Have fun and happy DAX’ing.

The warehouse dream

I was mesmerized by this simple but cool Microsoft Surface demo at Convergence conference in Copenhagen 2009.  Lachlan Cash was kind enough to share the video here as a great example of how touch can transform visualization and manipulation of complex line-of-business information. 

From 2m 15s

http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/benriga/Using-Touch-in-Line-of-Business-Apps

The demo during Kirill Tatarinov’s keynote session shows top-down heat-map visualization of the bins in a warehouse.  The color-coding gives an immediate view into the status of the warehouse with blue showing cold (i.e. bins with low pick rates) and red showing hot (i.e. bins with high pick rates).  Multi-touch is fully supported on Surface allowing multiple warehouse staff to collaborate while manipulating the data to optimize the warehouse for fast picking.

Very nice vision.

Retail and Supply Chain Trends

One of the most famous principles in retailing is, of course, “retail is detail” — this is where the challenge lies: how do you become more detailed and what detail should you focus on? All retailers know that having products available to customers is one of the most fundamental requirement. Manufacturing, distribution and selling a product can challenge the best organizations. As a retailer’s business drivers change, business processes, SCM technology investment and the overall approach to supply chain management must change and keep pace. An inefficient and poorly functioning supply chain can negatively impact every aspect of a retail organization, jeopardizing the long-term performance and success of a business.

To remain successful companies need organization-wide buy-in to supply chain excellence and some will need to re-evaluate their current processes and performance with these key trends in mind:

• Demand Planning
• Globalization
• Price pressures
• Shorter and complex product life cycles
• Online Collaboration

Companies that reevaluate their business and how the current supply chain structure supports the business-from a strategy, process, technology and organizational perspective-must focus on keeping their supply chain aligned with the overall business strategy.

To succeed, companies must embrace Supply Chain Excellence as a core competency at all levels throughout the company and recognize that supply chain management is executed in many areas, not just the functional supply chain organization.

Dynamics AX works closely with leading retailers and helps them address their business challenges. From our experience working with key companies in food and beverage, consumer products, high tech and industrial manufacturing, there are five key trends causing significant impact and change to retailers performance.

Demand planning

The demand-driven approach helps retailers to create a more customer-focused mindset, without sacrificing operational efficiency. I have often seen that Demand Planning success is often tied to organizational structure. Companies with the right tools and dedicated resources focused around demand planning and forecasting yield stronger results and drive more value to their business. I expect that demand planning will a very important feature to look into when the AX 2012 R3 is released.

Globalization and Supply Chain Management

The business landscape is rapidly becoming more global. Largely due to improvements in communications, globalization is dramatically impacting the way business is managed and transacted, even on the most local levels. No area of a business is affected more by the trend to a global business environment than the supply chain. Manufacturing, distribution, sourcing of materials, invoicing and returns have all been significantly impacted by the increased integration of a global customer and supplier base, and many companies find that existing processes and technology are not flexible enough for this new business environment.

Global competition and price pressures

The internet has changed our shopping habits and will continue to do so. E-commerce websites have opened up the world of “non-geographic” retail — a retail world without the need to visit the physical store. The emergence of “etail” from retail has been the biggest change over the past 20 years. Historically, price, product features and brand recognition were enough to differentiate many products in the marketplace. With the continued commoditization of many products, companies need better ways to distinguish themselves. Product innovation and brand equity is no longer allowing retailers to command a higher price in the market. In order to continue to compete with that commoditized product they made significant cost improvements with supply chain re-design and technology. Retailers are looking to their supply chains in two ways to help offset this trend. First, they are looking at ways to reduce cost and are creating a more efficient value chain to remain cost competitive. Second, retailers are looking at ways they can provide value-added services to meet the demands of more sophisticated customers.

Shortened and more complex product life cycles

As the economy becomes more global, labeling and compliance to packaging requirements and regulations have become critical to success. Without adherence to local packaging and labeling regulations a product may violate local requirements, preventing it from being distributed and sold in that market. Product lifecycle management technology and processes can help ensure that products being produced and targeted for specific markets are well-managed and are compliant. Product lifecycle management processes have helped retailers with their efforts to try to continually drive demand through packaging and labeling innovation and design. Implementation of an optimal PLM process and technology can allow retailers to effectively produce and distribute products that are only targeted for regional promotions or consumer preferences.

Integration and collaboration with customers and suppliers

As supply chains continue to develop and mature, a move toward more intense collaboration between customers and suppliers has occurred. The level of collaboration goes beyond linking information systems to fully integrating business processes and organization structures across companies that comprise the full value chain. The ultimate goal of collaboration is to increase visibility throughout the value chain in an effort to make better management decisions and to ultimately decrease value chain costs. With the right tools, processes and organizational structure in place, collaboration provides key people throughout the value chain with the information needed to make business-critical decisions with the best available information. As retailers are increasingly using their supply chain to compete and gain market share, spending and activity in this area are notably on the upswing. Technology and process upgrades at forward-thinking companies clearly show that supply chain excellence is more widely accepted as an element of overall business strategy and that increasing value to customers is not just management’s, but everyone’s business.

Technology supporting these trends

As supply chain networks have become more complex, the need for greater and improved solutions has become critical. The Dynamics ecosystem have done significant investments in developing solutions and verticals to address the needs of retail and distribution companies in areas, such as:

• Transportation and Inventory Optimization
• Logistics and replenishment Optimization
• Product Lifecycle Management and labeling
• Handheld solutions
• Sales and Operations Planning
• Procurement
• Manufacturing Optimization
• Business Intelligence
• eCommerce
• Collaboration platforms

These technologies have helped enable the retail and supply chain “information worker” innovate, drive cost reductions, improve service and meet customer expectations better than ever. In order to have sustainable improvement in retail and supply chain performance, the Dynamics ecosystem must find the right balance of investments in organization, processes and technology. Lack of investment and focus in these areas will reduce the ability to achieve fundamental, sustainable improvements.

Microsoft Acquires WAX/TRAX

Yesterday, one of the most public secrets was officially announced.

Microsoft (MSFT) Acquires Blue Horseshos’ WAX, TRAX Solutions

It will be interesting to see how this will evolve, and we welcome more focus on WMS and logistics.  When more information becomes public, I will keep you up to date on what to expect and how this solution will fit different segments requirements. The release date is expected at the end of this year, and will at the first version be a optional feature pack located in a separate layer.

Show if data is synchronized

The post is related to the masterdata synchronization.

I wanted to give end-users an explanation why they cannot change some of the fields in a synchronized records.  I  decided to create a generic way of alerting the end-user, like you see in the screenshot below, and also to lock any fields that is synchronized.

image

So if a record is originating from another master-company, then the following yellow text will be visible. Doing this on a single form is surely easy, but I wanted to create a generic solution that has Zero footprint, and NOT making any changes to any standard form. 

Can it be done ?  Yes 🙂

So what I did, was to create a event handler on the info.formNotify():

image

Then the code looks like this (the code contains some ColSync* references, but you see the idea:

public static void colSyncEnableFields(XppPrePostArgs _args)
{
    FormRun                 formRun;
    FormDesign              formDesign;
    FormNotify              event;
    FormNotifyEventArgs     eventArgs;
    ColSyncCache            colSyncCache;
    Common                  common;
    ColSyncLine             colSyncLine;
    ColSyncTable            colSyncTable;
    ColSyncDefinition       colSyncDefinition;
    ColSyncDestinations     colSyncDestinations;
    FormGroupControl        actionBarGroup;
    FormActionPaneControl   actionPane;
    FormGroupControl        firstGroup;
    int                     defaultBackgroundColor;
    FormStaticTextControl   actionBarMessageText;
    int                     i;

    #define.SyncActionBarGroup('SyncActionBarGroup')
    #define.SyncActionBarMessageText('SyncBarMessageText')

    event     = _args.getArg('event');
    eventArgs = _args.getArg('eventArgs');

    switch (event)
    {
        case FormNotify::RecordChange:
            if ((eventArgs != null) &&
                (eventArgs.formDataSource()))
            {
                formRun   = _args.getArg('formRun');
                colSyncCache = ColSyncCache::construct();
                common = eventArgs.formDataSource().getFirst(true) ? eventArgs.formDataSource().getFirst(true) : eventArgs.formDataSource().cursor();
                if (common.RecId &&
                    colSyncCache.isSyncEnabledDestination(common))
                {
                    formDesign = formrun.design();
                    for (i=1; i<=formDesign.controlCount(); i++)
                    {
                        if ((formDesign.controlNum(i).handle() == classNum(FormActionPaneControl)))
                        {
                            actionPane = formDesign.controlNum(i);
                            break;
                        }
                    }
                    formRun.lock();

                    if (actionPane != null)
                    {
                        for (i=1; i<=formDesign.controlCount(); i++)
                        {
                            if ((formDesign.controlNum(i).handle() == classNum(FormGroupControl) &&
                                 formDesign.controlNum(i).name() == #SyncActionBarGroup ))
                            {
                                actionBarGroup = formDesign.controlNum(i);
                                break;
                            }
                        }

                        if (!actionBarGroup)
                            actionBarGroup = formDesign.addControl(FormControlType::Group, #SyncActionBarGroup, actionPane);
                    }
                    // add directly to top of form design
                    else
                    {
                        for (i=1; i<=formDesign.controlCount(); i++)
                        {
                            if ((formDesign.controlNum(i).handle() == classNum(FormGroupControl) &&
                                 formDesign.controlNum(i).name() == #SyncActionBarGroup ))
                            {
                                actionBarGroup = formDesign.controlNum(i);
                                break;
                            }
                        }

                        if (!actionBarGroup)
                        {
                            // find the first group control on form (if one exists)
                            for (i=1; i<=formDesign.controlCount(); i++)
                            {
                                if ((formDesign.controlNum(i).handle() == classNum(FormGroupControl)))
                                {
                                    firstGroup = formDesign.controlNum(i);
                                    break;
                                }
                            }
                            if(firstGroup)
                            {
                                actionBarGroup = firstGroup.addControl(FormControlType::Group, #SyncActionBarGroup);
                                actionBarGroup.top(FormTop::Auto);
                            }
                            else
                            {
                                actionBarGroup = formDesign.addControl(FormControlType::Group,#SyncActionBarGroup);
                                actionBarGroup.top(1, FormTop::Auto);
                            }
                        }
                    }

                    defaultBackgroundColor = formDesign.backgroundColor();
                    actionBarGroup.frameType(FormFrameType::None);
                    actionBarGroup.height(27);
                    actionBarGroup.hideIfEmpty(false);
                    actionBarGroup.topMargin(1);
                    actionBarGroup.bottomMargin(1);
                    actionBarGroup.widthMode(FormWidth::ColumnWidth);
                    actionBarGroup.colorScheme(FormColorScheme::RGB);
                    actionBarGroup.verticalSpacingValue(0);
                    if (System.Windows.SystemParameters::get_HighContrast())
                    {
                        actionBarGroup.colorScheme(FormColorScheme::WindowsPalette);
                        actionBarGroup.backgroundColor(WindowsPalette::TooltipBackground);
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        actionBarGroup.colorScheme(FormColorScheme::RGB);
                        actionBarGroup.backgroundColor(WinAPI::RGB2int(255,255,153));
                    }
                    // don't reserve space for details forms
                    if (formDesign.style() == FormStyle::DetailsFormMaster || formDesign.style() == FormStyle::DetailsFormTransaction)
                    {
                        actionBarGroup.visible(false);
                    }

                    for (i=1; i<=actionBarGroup.controlCount(); i++)
                    {
                        if ((actionBarGroup.controlNum(i).handle() == classNum(FormStaticTextControl)))
                        {
                            actionBarMessageText = actionBarGroup.controlNum(i);
                            if (actionBarMessageText && actionBarMessageText.name() == #SyncActionBarMessageText)
                                break;
                        }
                    }

                    if (!actionBarMessageText)
                    {
                        actionBarMessageText = actionBarGroup.addControl(FormControlType::StaticText, #SyncActionBarMessageText, actionBarGroup);
                    }
                    actionBarMessageText.backStyle(FormBackStyle::Opaque);
                    actionBarMessageText.colorScheme(FormColorScheme::RGB);
                    actionBarMessageText.backgroundColor(WinAPI::RGB2int(255,255,153));
                    actionBarMessageText.widthMode(FormWidth::ColumnWidth);
                    actionBarMessageText.text(strFmt("@SYN112"));
                    actionBarMessageText.visible(true);
                    formRun.unLock();

                    while select  SyncFieldId from  colSyncLine group by SyncFieldId
                            where   colSyncLine.SyncTableId == eventArgs.formDataSource().table()
                                &&  colSyncLine.SyncType == ColSyncType::SynchronizeField
                        exists join colSyncTable
                            where   colSyncTable.SyncId == colSyncLine.SyncId
                                &&  colSyncTable.SyncTableId == colSyncLine.SyncTableId
                                &&  colSyncTable.SyncActive == NoYes::Yes
                        exists join colSyncDefinition
                            where   colSyncDefinition.SyncId == colSyncLine.SyncId
                                &&  colSyncDefinition.SyncActive == NoYes::Yes
                        exists join colSyncDestinations
                            where   colSyncDestinations.SyncId == colSyncLine.SyncId
                                &&  colSyncDestinations.ToDataAreaId == common.dataAreaId
                                &&  colSyncDestinations.LockSyncFields == true
                    {
                        eventArgs.formDataSource().object(colSyncLine.SyncFieldId).allowEdit(false);
                    }
                    eventArgs.formDataSource().allowCreate(false);
                    eventArgs.formDataSource().allowDelete(false);
                }
                else if (common.RecId &&
                         colSyncCache.isGlobalTableEnabled(common))
                {
                    eventArgs.formDataSource().allowCreate(false);
                    eventArgs.formDataSource().allowEdit(false);
                    eventArgs.formDataSource().allowDelete(false);
                }
            }
        break;
    }
}

Enable database logging on groups and parameters

First I would say that I do NOT recommend to enable any database logging, unless it is business important for you, and you need to have a track of parameter changes.

But in some cases customers demand to have database logging.  I agreed and explained that it will have performance consequences, but we could do it on parameters and groups.

But I’m a type of guy that likes to create scripts to enable things.  So I wanted to share with you a small script that enables database logging on all groups and parameters.

(This script is for AX2009)

static void KHA_AddDatabaseLogging(Args _args)
{
    #AOT Name name;

    TreeNode treeNode;
    SysDictTable sysDictTable;
    DatabaseLog  DatabaseLog;
    ;
    treeNode = TreeNode::findNode(#TablesPath);
    treeNode = treeNode.AOTfirstChild();
    while (treeNode)
    {
        name = treeNode.AOTname();
        sysDictTable = SysDictTable::newTableId(treeNode.applObjectId());

        if ((sysDictTable.tableGroup() == tableGroup::Parameter ||
             sysDictTable.tableGroup() == tableGroup::Group) &&
             !sysDictTable.isMap() &&
             !sysDictTable.isTmp() &&
             !sysDictTable.isView() &&
             sysDictTable.enabled())
        {
            select firstonly DatabaseLog where DatabaseLog.logTable == sysDictTable.id();
            
            if (!DatabaseLog)
            {
                DatabaseLog.domainId = "Admin";
                DatabaseLog.logType  = DatabaseLogType::Update;
                DatabaseLog.logTable = sysDictTable.id();
                DatabaseLog.logField = 0;
                DatabaseLog.insert();
            }
            info(strfmt("Databaselogging enabled on %1",sysDictTable.name()));
        }
        treeNode = treeNode.AOTnextSibling();
    }
}

Master data synchronization using ColumbusSync

I wanted to share a nice tool I’m working on for Dynamics AX 2012.  It is called ColumbusSync, and solves some requirements we often see at larger enterprises.  The ability to quick and easy distribute master data from a master company to a set of “client” companies.  In this way a large set of companies can act as a single enterprise, even though it actually are a set of unique companies.   

image

What makes this tool great, it that is generic and uses all known relations defined in Dynamics AX 2012.  This means that if you want to synchronize your customers, then all other tables that have a dependency will also be suggested to be included in the synchronization. RecID related relations are also handled. Transactions(like sales orders, inventory transactions etc) are not supported to be included in this tool, and it will not work across partitions.

On each field you can define if the field should de synchronized, is a local field, is a fixed field or a script is associated to the field.  So parts of a record can be locally controlled and parts are synchronized.

You can also define a query criteria, so that set up that only a sub-set of the records should be synchronized to a set of destination companies.

The amount of data that could be included in the synchronization could surely be massive, so there is a set of optimizations that makes use of the Dynamics AX multithreading batch framework.  Just like the master planning in Dynamics AX,  splitting the synchronization into sub-jobs, that is executed the the correct sequence.  (Meaning that groups are typically synchronized before main table records)

The RecVersion field is also used find exactly those records that should be synchronized.  To also support “close-to-real-time” synchronization the current changed/added record can be collected just like the standard AX 2012 database log.

The tool is not ready for shipping yet, but I know that many companies has requested this.  It will also solve a requirement I have seen in the community a lot.  The ability to quickly create a new client company.  The idea is that you may just run the data synchronization to a destination company. 

Visit the blog later, and I’ll share some more details of the tool.

Take care, and happy DAXing.

Changing the query for an existing CUE

In AX 2009 we could change the query behind a personalized CUE.  This seams to have been removed from AX 2012.

image

But we that can develop, still have a chance, using X++.

Run the following job script, and you will get the query up, so that you can change the query.

image

This will bring up the normal query form, where you can make your changes, and then press OK to save the new query in you Cue.

image

 

Take care and happy Daxing.

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.

image

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.

image

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:

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

Can Dynamics AX 2012 talk ?

I was playing around on some with some of the classes, and I found a  small thing that I wanted to share with the community.  How to enable the speech synthesizer in Dynamics AX 2012.  (This is the core essence of the “virtual burger” demo)

Here is the code that makes Dynamics AX speak:

image

You also need to add the System.Speech to the references in AX:

image

Making Dynamics AX 2012 talk in a demo is great, but the functional value is normally low.

Happy Daxing Smilefjes

Dynamics AX 2012 and BarTender Commander

I have previously blogged on the BarTender integration to Dynamics AX 2012.  In this blog post I want to take the integration one step further. 

Sometimes it is not possible to have a BarTender client on each machine.  Also in a Terminal Server scenario often local label printers are mapped into the RDP session, and you suddenly see that you are using up all the printer licenses you have purchased for BarTender.

image

There is a way around this, and that is to use BarTender Commander instead of the BarTender ActiveX integration. Then the printer, copies and tag values can be sent to a XML file, that the BarTender is picking up, and will automatically print out centrally.

So I needed to create some very small changes to my BarTender module to make this happen.

image

This will generate a XML file, that looks like this.

image

The BarTender commander “picks this up”.

image

And BarTender prints out accordingly.

I also see that some of the users of the BarTender integration is using it in a different way that I expected.  They are using it WITHOUT BarTender, and are just generating the XML messages.   Then they pick up this XML file, and use it for other types of integrations, like EDI and even into a dynamic document composition tools(Like StreamServ).  They then don’t need to spend a lot of time in creating SSRS reports, but more their reporting requirements into a more user-friendly reporting tool.  My comment is WOW…. I didn’t recognize that feature when I created it Smilefjes  Users are really creative and smart.  

In my last blogpost I explained how important if it is to share knowledge.  I follow up on this, and here the actual Dynamics AX 2012 source code for creating BarTender commander XML files. 

image

image

image

(Yes I know that you would prefer a “copy-paste” version, but that would be too easy Smilefjes)

Happy Daxing

How to be rich on your Dynamics AX add-ons

First I need to say I’m sorry for the trick headlines. This quick answer is that it is very unlikely to get rich on money by developing Dynamics AX add-ons, and especially if you try to this alone. However, what you will be is much richer in experience and I guarantee you will have fun. Also a warning; if you are not internally motivated to share and learn more, than do not go down this path.

I wanted to share with you some own experience in how to create, promote and sell your great ideas.

Step 1 is the idea, and step 2 is to have a either a rich uncle, nice employer or a customer that believes in your idea. It is more difficult if you are missing on step 1 or 2, and you could risk going home hungry.

image

Step 3 is product quality and development, and this is very well discussed and described in other blogs and from Microsoft, and I will not go down there now. One important tip here is to be clear about what versions of Dynamics AX you do support.

Step 4 is documentation. When I develop Dynamics AX Add-ons/modules, I spend a lot of time documenting with the end-user in mind. The documents I create for each add-on are; brochure, installation manual, user manual, step-by-step guide, training presentation, and a sales presentation. Do it in English!

image

Step 5 is about promoting your solution, and this may be the most important part. Marketing can be very expensive. A blog (like this) is much cheaper. You may need to share more than you want to attract readers (also called potential customers). You need to write about what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why it is important. Share from your documentation. Show your genuine interest in your particular subject, and what it’s capable to do. If you can share ideas and code snippets, do so. Don’t be afraid of that some may steal your code or idea. The true value is your expertise, and the ability to have a continued focus. You will probably not be rich on the product anyway, and BING/GOOGLE will figure out that what you write have value for readers. Many of the customers that have purchased my solutions have found the solution here on this blog, and then contacted me. Also try to promote your product internally among colleges and friends.

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Step 6 is about making your product commercial. Then you need a pricelist. One tip, is to price it so low, that other partners/developers cannot make the same features as customizations at the same price. High price = no customers. Low price = some customers. You probably also need to create a partner model, so that partners that brings customers to you can make money on it. Also, if you want to continue to improve and further develop your product, try to sell your product with yearly enhancement fees.

Step 7 is to show and demo the product. In most cases this will be Microsoft Partners, that first “scans” the marketplace according to what a potential or existing customer needs. You will therefore need tools to do this, like Lync, GotoMeeting or any other meeting tools. If your product is great, try to demo it as often as possible, to as many as possible. They need to see that it’s actually working and are living up to the expectations explained in your blog.

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Step 8 let your customers/partners try the product. “Try before you buy” is popular, because all have experiences to purchase things/software that does not live up to the expectations. But since your idea and product is great, be prepare to let them try it. You should also probably create a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), that the customer needs to sign before you hand over all you have for trial. Let you customers try the software in the way they want, and therefore you should make the installation (XPO or AX-models) available. In many cases, customers prefer to have a Hyper-V or VMWARE image downloaded, since it will contain both solution and data ready to try.

Step 9 is to make sure the product, documentation and support capabilities are available. Use the a WEB-page where the customers must log in. I prefer a SharePoint site, where I make all installation, documentation AND support available. As long as the customer is on an enhancement plan, they have access to what they need. I also let partners and customers on NDA have read only access to this SharePoint site. Also remember to remove users from the SharePoint site, where you see/understand that they will not purchase. Tell them that they can continue to read more on the blogSmilefjes

Step 10 is to sell your product. You should then have a SLA (Software License Agreement), that make sure that you and the customer is protected. Also create a document called “How to purchase”, where you describe how customers and partners should go forward. After the product is delivered, then you invoice it.

Step 11 is to be proud, and remember that you don’t do this to get rich. You do it, because on this journey you are learning a lot, and you are creating solutions that customers benefit’s from. You will also increase your own value and public recognition on the path.

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Also remember that there are always winners in the lottery.  One time it could be youSmilefjes

Receipt status arrived: The forgotten jewel

There are two ways to learn how Dynamics AX is working. Users can do courses, read manuals, self-training, “try and fail”, blogs etc. Professionals can also read code. Each time Microsoft is releasing a new version I try to read the code for better understanding new features and possibilities.

I then often find traces of functionality that exists, but that Microsoft never took the “last mile” and created the front-end functionality. This code is often made by the best developers in the industry. And it is open and free to use for partners and customers.

One of these hidden jewels are the status arrived.

To explain what this is, we need to understand how the real physical logistics flow is translated and viewed in Dynamics AX.

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Dynamics AX tries to mirror this processes with transactions, and reflect each status as both transactions and as inventory statuses. Take a look at the following Dynamics AX On-hand screen.

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What I suggest, is that they should start using the Arrived status more. Because it can give some very important information. When an order processor (like Susan) take a look at the current on-hand, because she have a customer on the phone, she can see that the items has arrived, and it is probably just a few hours before the items are available in stock, and ready to be picked.

It also tells the warehouse manager how much goods has arrived to the warehouse, and how he should prioritize his workforce to do quality control and put-away.

It answers one of the most basic logistics questions: Has the items arrived yet?

You may now ask the question: Why have we not heard about this, and why isn’t we using this more?

There is a catch. In order to use the Arrived status, you need to use pallets, and pallet transports. Microsoft is describing the process in this blog. But it is actually quite few that uses pallets in their warehouses. Most SMB companies have warehouses, but just places the goods in cartons into the warehouse.

In the following section I would like to tell you how to go around this, so that you actually can use the arrived status without using pallets. It is just a small modification needed, and it will make sure that the “forgotten jewel” again can shine.

We do this, by making some small changes to how the arrival journal is working. When the user adds a record in the arrival journal we want the inventory transactions to reflect this.

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This will be reflected in the on-hand screen as been before.

Here is how I made this possible.

Warning ! The following section is for developers only J, and are created for Dynamics AX 2012 R2.

1.First I need a function for summing up arrived transactions.

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2.Create some static methods that controls the arrived status based on WMSJournalTrans.

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3.Create event handlers on insert, update and delete methods on the table WMSJournalTrans.

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4.A small correction to std. AX is also needed, so that arrived transactions can be seen from the arrival overview.

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This concludes the adjustment to make status arrived work for companies that don’t do pallets.

Take care, and happy daxing.

How to use dynamic date ranges in RoleCenter Cue’s

In Dynamics AX 2012 (and 2009) we have the possibility to add Cue’s to the role center.

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However, sometimes we would like to have Cue’s that reflect a dynamic time dimension. This is like: Orders today, Orders yesterday etc.

What we then can do is to use query values as today(), day(-1), LessThanDate(), RateRage() etc.

Like in the following example fetching sales order lines created today. Here I use the greaterThanDate(-1). Pay attention to the extra parentheses to make it work.

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In AX 2012 you will find many such «dynamic» data query values, and you can find them in the class SysQueryRangeUtil.

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Then here is the developers trick: Create your own methods to get the query range you need.

I have created my self some nice methods for getting a query rage for ThisWeek() and PrevWeek()

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Or here is a way if you have a CreateDateTime field, like, and want all orders created today:

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So now it is easy to create Role center cues with data like:

– Number of Sales order with value so far today/yesterday/this week/this month etc

Try it, and happy Daxing

PDA tools for retail stores

I have several customers with retail stores.  So I wanted to create some PDA applications that can be used in the stores, that focuses on supply chain.  It actually turned out to be a small module in the PDA solution.

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The retail menu is optimized for scenario’s where a central distribution center is doing automatic replenishment using transfer orders of the stores, and the stores are within the same company as the central distribution center.

In scenarios where the stores is buying directly from vendors, or intercompany transactions is used, then the purchase and arrival menus can be used.

Create transfer order

The create transfer order is all about creating transfer orders from a central distribution warehouse or from other stores/warehouses. The screen is very easy-to-use, and focuses on the core process.

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To warehouse: This is the destination warehouse (or store), and is normally auto filled based on the current user.

From warehouse: This is the Source warehouse (or store), and is normally auto filled based what is the main central warehouse.

Barcode: Accepts item barcodes or EAN128 codes.
The magnifier button will open the items details for this item/barcode.

Quantity: Accepts Quantity or quantity from item barcodes or GS1-128/EAN128 codes. The field on the left show how many units are already ordered, and (hopefully) on it way. Before ordering, check this field to prevent double ordering.

The buttons in the bottom will be either add or create, depending on of there already exists an open and untouched transfer order.

Create/Pick transfer order

The create/pick transfer order is an optimization of the create transfer order. But this process will also physically pick the items while you are creating the transfer. This form is particularly useful if you want to create a transfer order based on physical items you have in the store or at the central warehouse. One of this processes is the end-of-season distribution. Returning items to central warehouse, or sending items to other stores.

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To warehouse: This is the destination warehouse (or store), and is normally auto filled based on the current user.

From warehouse: This is the Source warehouse (or store), and is normally auto filled based what is the main central warehouse.

Barcode: Accepts item barcodes or EAN128 codes. The magnifier button will open the items details for this item/barcode.

Location: Scan the location where the lines is being picked from.

Quantity: Accepts Quantity or quantity from item barcodes or GS1-128/EAN128 codes.

The buttons in the bottom will be either add or create, depending on of there already exists an open and untouched transfer order.

1.3. Add transfer lines

If you already have a transfer order, and just wants to add lines to a specific transfer order, then use this function.

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This form behaves just like the two previous, but here the user can specifically select the transfer order. The lookup button will only show already open transfer orders that fill the criteria of “To”-, and “From”- warehouse.

1.4. Inquire item barcode

For retailers it is important to quickly get information that is different then what a warehouse worker needs.

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The sales price presented here is the price including VAT. So this is the price that the customer will get in the POS.

The minimum, is the minimum on-hand, and is used for replenishment. Adjusting this can automatically create transfer orders through the master planning. The magnifier button will show a lot of information on the scanned item. This is KPI that normally is used to set the minimum level of an item at the store. Here is an explanation of the KPI’s/statistics.

Last sales date : The last date there was a sale on this item/barcode from this store/warehouse.

Sales this/last week/month : Calculates some sales statistics on the item barcode from this store/warehouse.

Sales value on-hand : Current physical on-hand * sales price inclusive VAT.

Turnover this/last year : Calculates the turnover ratio for this item in this store/warehouse. The logics for creating this is the same as in standard AX.

Lead time : Getting the lead-time of the item. The logics is the same as standard AX is using in master planning.

Multiple : Show the multiple quantity parameter as defined on the item.

Recommended minimum : This parameter give a minimum advice. The logics is the same as how standard AX is calculating safety journals, but it is rounded up to the nearest multiple quantity.

As shown in the figure, the Print-button will print retail shelf labels, and these can be setup as wanted in the Columbus BarTender integration.

Count

Counting program for stores is very much the same as counting in a warehouse.

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Inquire location

This program is the same as found in the warehouse menu.

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AX2012–GS1-128–delivery labels

My BarTender integration and PDA solution now supports full GS1-128 labels and application identifiers.

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Pick, ship and send directly from a PDA. 

Now also available with a overview screen of shipped SSCC :

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And use the Microsoft Bing to visualize the Transport route by a single click:

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You can even try it out your self, by clicking here.

Take care, and 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)

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

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

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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.

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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 :

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

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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:

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

The tables refers to the following :

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

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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

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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:

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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