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.

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