One of the distinguishing characteristics of more complex warehouse environments involves put-away rules. Other distinguishing characteristics include optimal sequencing of pick activities, bin replenishment based on min-max logic, and special equipment requirements for put-aways and picks. This section highlights some of the advanced functionality that addresses the requirements of more complex warehouse environments. A warehouse management policy ”termed directed put-away and pick ”determines whether a location can employ the advanced functionality.
Many warehouse environments use an informal approach to put-away rules. An informal approach takes different forms, such as a bulletin board notice or a procedures manual, but it is not embedded in system logic. This means warehouse personnel must work out the rules in their head. Several examples of put-away rules will be used to illustrate how to embed put-away rules in the system logic.
Basic Put-Away Rules The basic put-away rules for received material involve a form of cascade logic, as illustrated by the following rules used by one warehouse manager.
Rule #1. Put the item in bins that need to be replenished. The bin s inventory has fallen below the SKU s minimum quantity, and the suggested put-away quantity reflects min-max bin replenishment logic.
Rule #2. Put the item in an authorized bin. First try to put it in an empty bin. If that doesn t work, put it in a bin with existing inventory of the item. Try to match the unit of measure (e.g., put pallets with pallets, pieces with pieces), otherwise mix the units of measure.
Rule #3. Put the item in an unauthorized bin. First try to put it in a bin with existing inventory of the item, preferably matching the unit of measure but mixing units if necessary. Otherwise, just put the item anywhere that you see fit.
These basic rules are termed a put-away template. One or more put-away templates can be defined to represent variations of the basic rules, and then assigned to individual SKUs or to the location (which then acts as a default when an SKU does not have an assigned template).
Other Put-Away Rules The warehouse manager in this example had several other put-away rules, as illustrated below, that are expressed as take-and-place instructions on the put-away documents.
Rule #4. Check the shortage list. If shortages exist for a received item, put it in the hot items bin so it will be immediately available for shipping to a sales order or picking for a production order.
Rule #5. Check bin ranking. Put the item in the highest ranked bin; then put it in lower ranked bins.
Rule #6. Enforce requirements for environmental conditions. Put items in cold storage if they need it.
Rule #7. Enforce weight and cubage limitations for a bin. Account for the bin limitations and the SKU s weight and cubage when you put items away.
Rule #8. Unpack (or repack) the received material so it matches the desired put-away unit of measure. For example, unpack a pallet and stock it in pieces.
Other considerations for the advanced functionality include improvements in the picking process and the impact on inventory transactions.
Improving the Picking Process The picking process sometimes requires unpacking (or repacking) stocked material into a different unit of measure to match the customer s desired UM. This is communicated via take-and-place instructions on a pick document. Bin ranking can also help sequence the picking process.
Impact on Inventory Transactions Several tools are only supported by the advanced functionality. These include three different worksheets ”for picking, put-away, and movement ”to group together related orders into a document. The advanced functionality also requires the use of different windows for reporting inventory adjustments, movements, and physical inventory counts. These warehouse transactions act the same as previously described inventory transactions, but an additional step must be taken to update inventory balances .
The All-and-Anything company wanted to improve coordination of stockroom activities by providing suggested action messages in one place. The customized window built on the existing functionality concerning receipt, pick, put-away, and ship documents that communicated needed stockroom action. It also identified new types of messages, such as the need to review past-due picks and shipments, review receipts for items with shortages, replenish inventory in bins based on min-max quantities , review auto- deduction errors, review lot expiration for stocked material, and perform cycle counts.
The quality manager at the Batch Process company wanted to extend the concept of inventory status associated with blocking transactions for a bin s inventory. The basic types of inventory status included on-hand, in-inspection, and on-hold, although other userdefined inventory statuses could be added. The impact of each inventory status could be designated in terms of planning calculations and usability. For example, planning calculations ignored on-hold inventory while issue transactions were prevented for in-inspection inventory. Quality management required limited access for inventory transactions related to dispositions of in-inspection inventory. Quality management also required identification of the source of material placed into in-inspection status, such as the purchase order for received material, to provide quality metrics.
Quality management required a historical genealogy of lot- and serial-traced items. The window displayed downward traceability information for a specified item and lot (or serial) number, using an indented bill format to indicate each link in the tracking chain. The window could also display upward traceability information, using an indented where-used format to view tracking history for a specified item and lot (or serial) number. These formats enabled the quality manager to view a complete history from end-item shipment to a component s purchase order receipt, with drill-down to the details for a specific lot (or serial) number.
A key customer of the Consumer Products company required an Advanced Ship Notice (ASN) and bar-coded shipping labels for each shipment. The shipping labels identified the cartons and pallets within a shipment. The ASN information included basic data about the shipment number and customer PO number(s) included in the shipment, as well as content data about the items (for a standard pack approach) or about the pallets, cartons, and items within cartons (for a pick-and-pack approach). These represent the basic variations in the hierarchical data structure for the ANSI X-12 856 transaction for ASNs. The combination of ASN and bar-coded labels enable the customer to quickly and accurately process material receipts via bar-code scanning, and to anticipate incoming material for put-away purposes.
 See Maximizing Your ERP System for further explanation of inventory status and quality management (pp. 271 “272, 276 “277, and 296 “297).
The Distribution company implemented an automated data collection system along with the advanced functionality of directed put-away and picking. Using the automatic data capture system (ADCS) capabilities, warehouse personnel using hand-held devices recorded all inventory transactions. Each transaction required definition of the user interface for the device, including a miniform, handheld functions, and data exchanges. A miniform defined the amount of information displayed on the hand-held device, such as a list of documents the user can select from and the errors (or affirmations) about activities being recorded by the user .
The warehouse manager at the Equipment company wanted a shortage report that simplified and extended the functionality associated with cross-docking opportunities. This report required a clear definition of shortages related to sales orders, production orders, and other orders. It also involved on-line notification of shortages when warehouse personnel processed receipts or handled put-away of material that cleared inspection, so they could issue the material to cover the shortage. The format for notifications (and shortage reports) included shortages by item and shortages by order.
The warehouse manager at the Fabricated Products company wanted to use daily usage rates to extend the usefulness of existing reports. These new reports used historical and projected daily usage rates to calculate the ABC classifications for items, identify excess inventory, and calculate min-max quantities for bin replenishment and planning data purposes. Additional reports were also developed to provide inventory accuracy metrics (based on cycle count feedback) and shortage lists.