One of the best ways to maintain a competitive edge is through an efficient operation — doing what you do as quickly, accurately and cost effectively as possible so you can keep your costs low, your prices competitive and your profits high. With these goals in mind, the DMS warehouse automation system, was developed specifically to optimize the wholesale distribution warehouse by directing and validating work tasks, providing inventory management tools, and integrating order processing with warehouse activities. The Wireless Warehouse module is fully integrated with the core DMS system, operating in real time mode to reflect the most current information available throughout the system. The Wireless Warehouse provides a comprehensive toolkit to ensure the most efficient, effective use of materials and personnel. It can dramatically improve operations in six key areas on the warehouse floor:
- Inventory receiving
- Staging and shipping customer deliveries
- Staging, shipping and receiving inventory transfers
- Intra-warehouse inventory moves
- Cutting table operations
- Physical inventory
Barcode technology is the cornerstone of warehouse automation. It facilitates automated data collection, greatly improving the speed and accuracy of data entry. Barcode data entry has an error rate of only one in three million characters, compared to one in 300 for manual entry. Also, because the information is gathered in a digital format, it is immediately available to other applications in the system. Radio frequency (RF) communications provide wireless network connectivity, permitting operators to move freely throughout the warehouse.
The Wireless Warehouse system infrastructure is based on handheld terminals (or permanent mount for a fork truck) that interface directly with the host iSeries server via wireless RF communications. Barcode printers, labels and scanners are used to improve the reliability and speed of data collection and material handling. Handheld terminals are used by warehouse operators to send data to and receive data from the iSeries, and can interact from virtually any location in the warehouse. The physical size of the warehouse is not a limiting factor, and the iSeries server does not have to be located in close proximity.
- Inventory Receiving applications allow electronic download of vendor manifests prior to the receipt of goods.
- Manifests may be downloaded from a vendor upon shipment of goods. Manifests that cannot be electronically downloaded may be entered into the system manually (a process called pre-receiving). DMS matches the receipts to open purchase orders upon completion of the receiving process in the warehouse.
- The Wireless Warehouse system provides translation tables to allow scanning of a manufacturer’s barcode in the receiving process.
- Customer order and inter-warehouse transfers are optimized using “directional pull” techniques--based on information provided by the operator about goods to be pulled (e.g., route, ship date, etc.), the system directs the operator to warehouse locations to retrieve each item for staging or shipping.
- Shipping applications use advanced techniques to determine the cost efficient and effective order in which items should be loaded onto a customer delivery truck.
- Once a truck is loaded, users can generate a manifest of everything on the truck for the driver to have as part of his paperwork requirements. The Wireless Warehouse module also provides the option to print a proof of delivery and, if desired, an invoice copy to be submitted to the customer at delivery.
- The Wireless Warehouse module provides functions to allow palletizing material. A pallet number is opened and item barcodes are scanned as they are placed on the pallet, maintaining an inventory of all items on a particular pallet.
- The movement of inventory from one location within the warehouse to another, either for storage or processing, is tracked in the DMS system using the Wireless Warehouse Inventory Moves application.
- The Cutting Table application combines the powerful capabilities of the Staging, Shipping and Inventory Moves applications with functions specifically designed to improve cutting table operations. The Cutting Table application incorporates directional pull technology to direct the forklift operator. The application then determines cut needs based on order requirements, presents the desired cuts to the cutting machine operator and directs cutting activities.
- The Cutting Table application may be defined to direct the operator to measure roll balances upon completion of cuts, updating inventory quantities. Damaged rolls may also be processed to remove and measure damaged areas, make inventory adjustments, and create new roll tags for the remaining roll balance(s).
- The Physical Inventory application expedites physical inventory processing via periodic cycle counts or entire warehouse counts. By combining the DMS extensive inventory information with the barcode technology inherent in its warehouse automation applications, it is estimated that physical inventory processes may be improved by more than 50 percent.