Warehouse Vision (WV) covers all major warehousing activities:
Management of Purchase Orders and ASNs
A comprehensive POs (Purchase Orders) and ASNs (Advance Shipping Notices) management module is included in the Warehouse Vision.
POs are the orders submitted by a company towards its suppliers and usually include product codes, quantities, packing requirements, special stock attributes (if any), etc.
ASN info is in turn provided by the suppliers following the execution of POs of their customers and usually include date/time of expected arrival, vehicle data, etc.
POs and ASNs can be entered manually or automatically imported into this module from another IT system such as the ERP of the company or the depositor (in the case of 3PL/4PL) or even the supplier (in case of ASNs).
The automatic import is being done by the means of the LVS / Logistics Link Manager tool. It can be initiated by an authorized administrator or by the system itself (scheduled) or be performed by the system automatically through polling, or using Web Services. Alternatively ASNs can be entered through Web by means of the optional Logistics Customer Service subsystem.
ASNs correspond (are linked) to POs, thus during the receiving process, actual receipts can be compared against the expected ones (ASNs), report the differences (if any) and update the relevant PO's.
Receiving and Put-Away Planning
Administrators can create and maintain receipt plans that among else include the definition of receiving steps for selected SKUs and quantities along with the definition of their priority.
The system can then automatically direct the users to perform their receiving activities (per ASN) according to the predefined receipt plans. During the receiving steps the system can:
- Check for shortages of sales orders and propose to receive pallets.
- Check the capacity of the picking locations & propose to receive boxes.
- Check the capacity of the stock locations and propose to receive specific type of pallet.
The system can use different predefined put-away scenarios per receiving step, thus allowing the automatic preparation of a more detailed and accurate put-away proposal. Among the task types that are supported are Replenishment, Put-Away and Relocation.
Receiving and Put-Away Execution
The merchandise reception takes place on the docks where the goods are checked against the relative manifests and/or the Advanced Shipping Notices - ASN (if any).
The system can handle actual receipts against planned expected receipts (ASNs), unplanned receipts and returns. Barcode scanning can significantly improve performance and accuracy in the receiving process, supporting standard (e.g. UCC/EAN-128 label) and supplier depended barcode formats. System directed palletization is supported based on predefined standards per item (SKU). Barcode labeling on the desired level (pallet, box, and piece) is also supported in case it is required.
The put-away process can be done in two ways:
- As an internal movement where the target storage location is decided by the user, or
- As a system directed put-away process where the target storage location is decided by the system based on a combination of predefined and dynamic criteria.
In both cases, users use their RF terminals to execute the process. They scan the proper barcode labels of the goods to be stored (e.g. pallet EAN 128 label) and the location they moved the specific goods (usually by scanning or keying the relative storage location id). In second case users follow system´s put-away proposal displayed on their RF screen (i.e. location to store the specific goods). Alternatively an authorized administrator can update the system of the actual execution details of such activities via PC-based tools such as Task Manager (that is part of the LVS / Warehouse Control subsystem).
Returns are handled similarly to the standard receipts. However instead of relating them to suppliers they are related to specific customer order shipments/sales orders and thus facilitate and accelerate the identification of the returned items.
Furthermore in case the returned goods had been prepared (before being shipped) by LVS´ packing process, then the system can automate such returns by automatically identifying the returned goods along with their packing details, correlating them to specific order shipments/sales orders, advising the put-away locations (picking / stock / .. areas), cross-docking them for future shipments, etc.
Authorized operators are allowed to:
- Block particular lots during merchandise reception and returns. Such blocking can be marked by fixed predefined or ad hoc defined reasons such as quarantine, unsuitability, etc.
- Unblock particular lots to make them available for further processing such as allocation to sales orders and picking.
In addition to the above typical quality control capabilities, LVS includes an advanced quality and safety planning and execution system (Quality Vision).
Capture of Sales Orders
SO are the delivery orders submitted to a company by its customers. All known SO types are supported such as typical customer orders, production orders, stock designated for scrap, orders requiring specific pallets and/or lot numbers, returns to suppliers, etc.
SO can be entered manually and/or automatically imported into this module from another IT system such as the ERP of the company or the depositor (in the case of LSP).
The manual data entry is facilitated through a comprehensive Sales Orders (SO) management module that is included in the WV. Alternatively, SO can be manually entered through web by means of the optional Logistics Customer Service subsystem. The automatic import is being done by the means of the LVS / Logistics Link Manager tool. It can be initiated by an authorized administrator or by the system itself (scheduled). Alternatively imports of sales orders can be executed through web services.
Processing of Sales Orders - Stock Control
The processing of SO is facilitated through a comprehensive Stock Control module that is included in the WV. This module identifies and allocates the right stock for every SO. As a result it could eventually create a back order, split an order to one or more order shipments, allocate an alternative item, explode a kit to its components, etc.
Stock Control allocates stock to SO both in soft-allocation and in hard-allocation modes. The first mode allocates stock without specifying which exactly physical stock is allocated to each SO (i.e. without specifying exact storage location, pack type, etc.), whereas the second mode specifies so.
The stock rotation rules can be based on known standards such as FIFO, FEFO, FPFO and LIFO as well as on any characteristics of the stock. Such stock rotation rules and priorities can be easily defined in the core system through LVS´ unique Stock Attributes mechanism.
Advanced stock rotation rules and scenarios can be defined by means of the optional powerful tool Visual Logistics Scenario Builder that is a part of the Adaptability Partner Workbench subsystem. Requirements (usually coming from supermarkets towards their distributors/wholesalers) such as product shelf-life or deliver always better expiration dates are typical examples covered by these tools.
This tool not only allows the design of proper stock allocation scenarios per case but also the design of optimized picking and replenishment flows based on other criteria such as stock´s physical locations, packing conditions, etc.
Finally such rules/scenarios can be assigned to specific customers, customer types, order types, etc., thus covering even the most complex stock allocation requests.
The stock allocation process is followed by automatic or manual generation of picking lists.
Cartonization - Palletization
The system can calculate the size and number of the shipping containers (cartons, pallets, etc.) required to accommodate specific Sales Orders. Such calculation is based on the volume and other properties of the items to be put in the container(s). The selection of the container(s) is usually done among a predefined set of container types/sizes.
Following the selection of the right size/type and number of containers, the system automates the printing of the respective labels per container (including barcode and other information).
In addition to the above container selection and preparation, the system automates the creation of the respective picking list per container and directs the pickers to properly pick and build the planned mixed container(s).
Such functionality (cartonization & palletization) can also be used during the receiving process to prepare the goods for storage.
Picking can be performed by RFs and/or by printed picking lists (or alternatively by Pick2Light, Pick-by-Voice and other means). A picking list can be assigned to an individual picker or a group of pickers. The picking process can be done in two ways:
System Directed Picking
It is the picking that is based on the picking lists created by previous processing of Sales Orders. Among the picking techniques supported are the following ones:
- Pick by Order,
- Group (or else Batch / Consolidated) Picking,
- Zone Picking,
- Multiple - Order Picking,
Picking tasks are automatically filtered and then allocated to:
- Forklifts, according to the pack type of the stock to be picked (usually pallet) and also according to their operation area or height they can reach, and to
- Case/split-case pickers according to their building or sector as well as according to their skills.
Depending on various criteria, pickers should always get the best next task from their RF terminal. The system can operate in a "Pull" or "Push" modes:
- Pull mode: The picker selects next task to execute from a pool of tasks he/she is authorized to execute.
- Push mode: Tasks are specifically assigned to pickers.
User Directed (or else Real Time) Picking
It is the picking that relies directly on the orders (SO) rather than on picking lists/tasks. Among the picking techniques supported are the following ones:
- Pick by Order,
- Group Picking,
- Blank Order Picking.
The following stock replenishing modes are supported:
- On time: Such replenishment process is triggered by the generation of picking lists. It is done in case the stock required to fulfill one or more orders is not available at the relevant picking location(s) or in the proper packaging format.
- Off time: Such replenishment process is performed independent of picking waves and usually at different time windows, so that during picking no replenishment traffic is required in the warehouse.
Packing - Loading - Shipping
The packing process generates packing lists and shipping labels (if required). The format and information included in the packing list and shipping labels are adapted per case according to customer´s requirements.
The packing information facilitates the following processes:
- Vehicle loading along with the checking of the goods being loaded (in order to confirm that the right goods have been loaded to the right vehicle).
- Delivering of goods. Driver can better identify what to deliver per each vehicle stop.
- Return of goods. See above for more information.
- Traceability up to delivery point.
Packing can be done in the following ways:
- Simultaneous with picking: See Pick&Pack above.
- After picking with Packing Station: It is an optional application (optimized for execution on touch screen workstations) that greatly facilitates the packing process (see Logistics Value/Packing Station later in this document).
- After picking by RF terminal: Users are executing the packing process through their RF terminal.
Directed cross docking is supported. Received goods can be matched with specific customer orders using specific stock attributes.
Furthermore goods "In Transit" are supported for warehouse receipts that are followed by a customer's orders hard allocation.
Finally, special functionality for the dynamic (or else unplanned-opportunistic) cross docking environment is also available.
It includes among else the following:
- Stock transfers can be generated and assigned by the system to RF operator(s) or alternatively authorized RF operator(s) can directly execute such transfers.
- Authorized users can modify the inventory (quantity, characteristics, etc.). The details of such modifications are of course being monitored by the system in the transaction log.
It is a sophisticated module supporting counting. It allows authorized personnel to generate count plans and then manage and monitor the execution of them.
There are two modes of operation in counting: summary and detail counting. Summary counting is a fast way of recording the actual inventory using the minimum of data required with the purpose of finding the differences with the system quantities.
In detail counting, which is typically performed for locations where differences were identified by a summary counting, all stock data are recorded so that the count stock may be used to update the system stock.
There are many other options in counting such as:
- Location counting or location and item counting.
- Single or multiple pass counting.
- Locking of locations for counting or counting without locking.
- Repeat count on difference only or repeat always.
Advanced Task Management
Automatic Task Assignment
It is an advanced mechanism included in LVS that is used to minimize the total execution time of tasks through the optimal utilization of employee skills.
Automatic task assignment may be applied to LVS tasks, i.e. putaway, replenishment and picking.
Task assignment is based on sets of rules, or strategies, then contain criteria for the selection of tasks and criteria for the selection and sorting of employees.
Task selection criteria may be the depositor, task type, item category, Warehouse zone, pack types, sku dimensions.
Employee criteria may include specific employees or employee sorting based on skill levels.
Additionally, a strategy may contain limits on the acceptable task delay as well the action that must be performed when those limits are exceeded.
Based on task assignment strategies the service periodically selects tasks suitable for the strategy and assigns them to employees.
LVS' core has been designed to support advanced real-time task interleaving within the distribution center that greatly improves the efficiency and productivity of the resources (people, forklifts, etc.).
Both manual and automatic methods are supported along with advanced criteria such as last scanned location for traceability of user inside warehouse for relative task (near last scanned location) or customized criteria per customer needs.
A semi-automatic method is also supported, which is a combination of two above methods (Manual and Automatic).
Flexible and customizable environment
Warehouse Vision being one of the most adaptable WMS platforms worldwide can be customized to cover almost every need of a modern DC. Authorized personnel can setup location and storage systems, define attributes such as item, stock, receipt, order, customer and dynamic, setup logistics processes (receiving, put-away, picking, replenishment, etc.), define standard stock rotation rules such as FIFO / FEFO / LIFO / etc., setup security and personalized user interfaces, etc. The initial setup and the after-sales continuous adaptation of the system to customer´s evolving needs is done by properly trained personnel (Mantis, Mantis´ partners or customer).
In addition to the standard customization capabilities included in the core system, there is a powerful Adaptability Partner Workbench (APW) that provides advanced customization capabilities.
Interfacing with external systems
Mantis has a long experience in interfacing (i.e. Electronic Data Interchange) Warehouse Vision with other IT systems such as ERP, MRP, etc. A standard interface is included in the core system. In addition to this standard interface, LVS includes a powerful tool called Logistics Link Manager that allows authorized administrators to create and maintain complex interfaces. Logistics Link Manager is part of the APW subsystem.
There is a plethora of (Crystal-based) reports that are included out of the box in the system. In addition to those reports, there is a comprehensive optional Supply Chain Intelligence subsystem.