Wholesale & Distribution International - Fall 2017 - 5
Changes in order profiles require changes in picking and picking technologies. To
enable the picking process and to ensure
digital orders get shipped on time, certain
waving methodologies are required. Multiple picking locations/zones will need to
be available for time sensitive orders and
there must be an option to fulfill wholesale orders and digital orders separately,
but from the same inventory.
The WMS will also have to interface
with picking peripherals and warehouse
control systems in order to work effectively. The leading BoB providers offer
these as configurable features. The ERP
warehouse modules, follower BoB and
SaaS/cloud providers may need to have
these features coded into their WMS.
Some WMS provide better picking
functionality than others. Almost all WMS
provide multiple ways to discrete order
pick, using different technologies to facilitate the most accurate and effective ways
to pick orders. Only a few WMS properly
provide all advance picking methods -
cluster, zone and batch picking.
Some WMS have the ability to divide
the pick area up by zones. The same
item will need to be slotted into multiple zones to allow for multiple picking
methods to work effectively. Late in the
shipping day, batch picking may not be
time effective and orders may have to be
picked from a discrete location to get the
orders shipped on time.
Another important feature is the ability
to wave orders properly to take full advantage of the picking methods and technologies. At a certain cut-off point, lean picking
of a digital order may be required to get
that order shipped on time. The WMS will
also need to allow orders to be released as
they are dropped into the WMS in order to
get picked and shipped on time.
Picking technologies and warehouse
control systems require the WMS to
have application programming interfaces (API) set up to automatically
communicate with the peripherals.
Having the APIs pre-programmed as
part of the WMS will ensure improved
speed of implementation and better
quality and reliability of the interface.
Only the leading BoBs will have a wide
variety of APIs.
The WMS will need to interface with
warehouse control systems (WCS) that
can properly route picked products to the
correct location for order consolidation,
value-added services, packing and shipping (per carrier and time requirements).
The leading BoB WMS have these APIs
already built into the software for proper
communications to the WCS. Some follower BoBs must be enhanced or modified to communicate to the WCS. Most
SaaS or cloud-based WMS will need to
have these interfaces designed and coded for specific applications. In the end,
the WCS will need to be able to handle
partitioning put-to-order technologies
to properly consolidate zone-picked and
ware work correctly to meet the required
digital order profile.
The third group of vendors is led by
WMS "software-as-a-Service" (SAAS), or
cloud-based, providers. For smaller operations, these subscription-based services
can provide significant value for the requirements they fulfill. However, the digital order profile features will need to be
coded into the way the software functions.
THE RIGHT COMBINATION
Although many WMS products provide
decent functionality for wholesale distribution, there are only a few WMS products that can provide the correct combination of features to fit the new digital
Choosing the correct WMS that will
interface with the right WCS, can be
tricky. That's where a trained digital distribution service provider can help. The
correct professionals can make a big difference in making sure that all the business requirements are matched to the
appropriate combination of WMS and
WCS solutions. q
Richard Barnes is a principal consultant for
the domain consulting practice of Wipro
Limited's consumer business unit. He has
more than 25 years of experience in leading
projects across the value chain strategy, business transformation, future state mapping
and value chain execution program management spheres in the consumer goods, retail,
grocery and OEM distribution domains.
Fall 2017 www.wdimagazine.com