An Inventory or warehouse is a place where all goods are stored. Traditionally a warehouse performs four basic functions: (1) Receive products, (2) Store products, (3) Pick product and (4) Ship products.
Receive products: The basic functions in the receiving products are: Total information of raw materials, finished goods from suppliers or manufacturers. Generally, receiving operations have two major needs:
- To get accurate receipt information with advanced notice. This helps the receiving operations by providing accurate and quick information from the suppliers / manufacturer’s system directly to a WMS. This system translates receipt information into usable information for dock activity planning, order release and inventory allocation.
- A WMS reduces or minimizes the time the product sits in production.
Storage: The basic functions in the storage area are: quality inspection, put-away, product location, lot control and cross dock operations. The typical needs with respect to product storage are:
- Identification and tracking of product those are ready for put-away.
- Automatic selection of storage locations for pallets loads, designed to maximize space utilization, picking efficiency and minimize retrieval or put-away labor.
- Track identity and quantity of each SKU by unique storage location (in order to ensure product trace ability to customer).
- Update inventory, locations of lot and stock records to provide timely information.
- WMS, uses cycle counting techniques.
- Cross docking
A major deficiency in many warehousing operations is the absence of a stock location system. Knowing where and how much of a product is in the warehouse, is a basic fundamental to success of the operation. The absence of a stock location system requires that the inventory accuracy be reliable. Usually this implies counting the entire on-hand inventory for a single SKU. This process is not only labor intensive, but also can be affected by human error. A WMS provides the feature of cycle count by location, record accuracy can be verified by location. The result is a drastic decrease in labor requirements and time and a dramatic increase in inventory accuracy.
Picking: The basic functions in the picking area are: raw material picking, work in progress picking and finished goods picking. The picking needs of a warehouse typically include:
- Select specific storage locations for picking based parameters such as lot number, stock rotation, order quantity and pick location.
- Minimize pick travel distance and multiple handling by pre-route and pre-post customer orders in storage location sequence.
- Perform case picking and broken case picking.
Again the need for a stock location system is essential, since it provides a foundation for efficient order picking. The picking functionality provided by a WMS is designed to exploit the existence of the stock location system to further maximize the picking efficiency. The ability of the computerized control system allows to minimize the picker travel time between picks and maximize actual time spend picking during discrete picking.
Shipping: The typical shipping needs include:
- The routing of picked goods to predetermined staging lanes for order control and consolidation from multiple pick zones.
- Automatic bill-of-landing generation.
- Automatic updating of customer files.
- Automatic shipping notification to customer
The shipping functions are designed to maximize the control of orders moving through packing, checking and loading. In addition, bill-of-landing, packing list, and customer file updating are used to minimize manual clerical tasks to reduce labor and improve accuracy and customer service.
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