Category Archives: Features

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Production Order Web Screens

Here’s a new feature in Latitude WMS that’s designed to help manufacturing customers track production orders for custom-made components that are assembled or created in the warehouse.

In past versions of Latitude, the user needed to dive into two or three separate screens to get information on a production order. But, not anymore.

Our new Production Receipts web screen answers all of the most common questions, such as:

  • How much of this item have we made?
  • What components have we used?
  • What do we need to make more of?
  • How much more can we make (from the parts that we have)?
  • Which employee made it?
  • Where’d they put it?

To view a production receipt, go to Activities – Production Orders – Production Receipts and enter the production order number. On the “Line Items” tab, the first ten columns from “LINE” to “QTY PER” will give you information on component usage, and the last five columns from “ASSEMBLY ITEM” to “RECV NOW” will show information about the finished product. “RECV NOW” provides the number of items that could be received now based on current component usage and “MAX SHIP” gives the maximum number of components that could be shipped now based on picked quantity. Red text on the screen means that that quantity is a “limiting factor” that is stopping the order from moving forward.

Next, by looking at the Receipt Destination tab, users will be able to view the receiving job number, location, date, time and user. The Audit tab shows all activities related to that particular production order for both components and finished goods. The Receipts and Quantity Used tabs should be self-explanatory.

Our goal with this new screen is to give Latitude WMS users better access to important information, making the process of manufacturing or assembling orders in-house more efficient.

Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks post, and check our Content Marketing Hub for videos, stories and presentations from our customers and partners. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

 

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Flag Problems from the RF Terminal

Even the best-organized warehouses have occasional problems or messes on the warehouse floor. Things break, people make mistakes or the unexpected just happens. And when it does, someone needs to fix it without taking too much time away from their normal workday duties.

To make this process a little simpler, Latitude now allows you to flag any problems with bins, items, sales orders or purchase orders directly from an RF terminal. That way the person who discovers the problem can quickly make a note about the issue and add it to the Problem List without exiting their workflow or dropping everything to find a supervisor in person. Likewise, supervisors can view Problem Lists and get an accurate update on anything happening in the warehouse.

Setting this up takes a few steps. First, make sure that MARK Bin, Item, Sales Order and Purchase Order are in your TOOLS menu. They are included in the DEFAULT tool menu, but you may have moved them if you’ve customized your menu. Second, define your “Problem” reason code by going to Administration – Class Maintenance – Problems Reason Codes. Common reason codes are DAMAGED BIN, INCORRECT ITEM, INCORRECT QUANTITY, etc.

Now your employees can press F3 – Tools – Mark Item on their RF terminals, choose the appropriate problem reason code from the list that you defined, and scan the problem item. After scanning the item, you can also enter notes to explain the problem in more detail.

To review problems flagged this way, go into Latitude Web to Activities – Cycle Count – Problem Items. You can also review Purchase Orders and Sales Orders flagged as Problems under their respective Activities menu group. For problems with incorrect item quantity, click Functions – Generate Cycle Count Job to create a cycle counting job from this screen. Once a problem has been solved, click Functions-Flush All Records to remove an item from the list.

That’s all for this issue of Latitude Tips and Tricks. Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks, and check out our Content Marketing Hub for videos, photos and presentations from our customers and partners. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or have a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach any member of our Customer Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

New in Latitude WMS: Inbound Transportation Management

At PathGuide, we’re constantly talking with our customers and working on new ways to help them get the most out of their Latitude WMS deployments. One big request is to have more control over scheduling inbound freight. How long does it take to unload deliveries? Are vendors coming in late, on time or early? Are trucks idling for extended periods while waiting for bays to open up? Many warehouses and DCs schedule deliveries using an Excel spreadsheet or a whiteboard – or they just “wing it” and hope that a dock door will be free when a truck arrives. PathGuide knew we could help them do better.

So, we’re pleased to announce that a powerful new Inbound Transportation Management (ITM) Module will be available in April. This module will help streamline deliveries and give warehouse managers much more control to manage the delivery process. Using an intuitive web-based dashboard, the new ITM Module makes it easy to assign specific times and bays for deliveries and ensure that the right equipment and manpower is ready for unloading (i.e., pallet loaded vs. floor loaded). Once the shipment arrives, employees can check the trucks in and out and attach notes to each delivery, all from the web browser or an RF hand-held computer.

The ITM Module will also keep track of a variety of metrics automatically, such as how long individual employees spend unloading a certain kind of delivery. This is a great tool for warehouse managers who need to forecast and assign labor each day.

Having a pre-arranged appointment also means that trucks won’t arrive at the same time and cause a bottleneck. If a truck arrives outside of its scheduled 20-minute arrival window, it will be flagged as ‘late’ or ‘early’ – and warehouse employees can enter additional notes if the products arrive damaged in any way. This insight gives managers vendor performance reporting tools to help in negotiating future business.

We’re proud of the unique features that this brings to the WMS industry, and we hope that it will help many of our customers streamline their inbound transportation processes.

WES and WCS Are Good, But They’re No WMS

The three types of warehouse software (WMS, WES and WCS) are starting to overlap in functionality, at least that’s the thesis of an article I read earlier this month in DC Velocity. Titled “Blurred Lines: WMS vs. WCS vs. WES,” it argues that these three warehouse systems have developed to a point where many of their major functions overlap and it’s difficult for buyers to decide exactly what they need.

While WCS and WES have certainly come a long way in the past few years, a high-quality WMS is still the best option to track and control the movement and storage of materials within the warehouse.

A high-quality WMS will provide benefits in the following areas:

  • Order accuracy
  • Worker efficiency
  • Overall speed of orders
  • Reporting and KPIs
  • Individual employee metrics
  • Warehouse organization

While a WES will provide some functionality in voice picking, mobile scanner integration, inventory management and labor management, it was not designed to perform as a WMS and should not be used as a replacement. If you need a WMS, buy a WMS. Don’t expect a WCS or WES to deliver functionality that it was not designed for.

This sounds simple in theory, but it gets more complicated in practice because not every company shopping for software knows what it needs. Before researching a new warehouse system, companies evaluate current systems to identify both strengths and weaknesses. Next, they should identify what areas they want to improve. Finally, they should make a list of the functions that will help them achieve those goals. By approaching the buying process with a clear understanding of what each type of software can deliver, they can see the marketing pitch for what it is and stay focused on getting a solution that will best fit their needs.

About the Author: Eric Allais, president and CEO of PathGuide Technologies, Inc., has over 30 years of experience in marketing, product management and sector analysis in the automated data collection industry, including warehouse management practices in wholesale distribution. Contact him at eric@pathguide.com.

Six Implementation Questions Customers Always Ask

Purchasing a WMS is a business investment that PathGuide customers take very seriously. Any warehouse upgrade involves a number of necessary changes to work processes, and a WMS is no exception. Customers can sometimes become intimidated if they get too caught up worrying about the implementation and assuming that these changes will be difficult.

But that’s simply not the case. With the proper training and staff buy-in, a WMS install doesn’t need to be an arduous process. To address some of the most common concerns, here is a list of popular questions from new WMS customers, and how we answer them:

  • How long is this going to take? It can take anywhere from four to nine months, depending on the warehouse’s specifics and how well the company has prepared for a rollout. An internal champion who works closely with us for troubleshooting and scheduled employee training can help a new customer go live much more quickly.
  • How will Latitude interface with our business system? Will we have to change anything? Probably not. Latitude integrates with all major ERP systems including SAP, Oracle, Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, and Infor.
  • How do we set up a RF network in our warehouse? How many access points will we need? What about better servers or higher network speeds? A PathGuide engineer will visit a new customer’s warehouse and do a complete walkthrough to determine exactly how the customer operates and what its needs are. They will handle technical problems like this.
  • How does training take place? We usually bring customer representatives to our Seattle office and let them practice with Latitude in our mock “warehouse” training room. We’ll also send PathGuide engineers to conduct on-site trainings, and we encourage customers to follow up with their own hands-on training.
  • Can we get Latitude to do _______? The answer is almost always yes. Latitude is highly customizable and we can usually modify it to fit the customer’s exact needs.
  • Can we get documentation or checklists for all of this? Of course! We want to make the tools in Latitude WMS as easy to use and accessible as possible.

Implementation can seem intimidating if you look at it in its entirety, but it isn’t as difficult as most people believe at first. That’s why it’s our job to break the process down into manageable chunks and help our customers get through the implementation one step at a time. This personal touch helps our customers feels more secure and leads to a smoother rollout – and that’s better for everyone.

Fisheries Supply Makes a Splash with New Latitude-Enabled Will Call System

PathGuide customers have a knack for finding unexpectedly innovative uses for their Latitude systems. For example, marine distributor Fisheries Supply uses Latitude WMS to automate a high-speed Will Call order system that can have customer orders ready for pickup in 15 minutes. This gives the company a high value market differentiator that boosts sales and reinforces its commitment to customer service.

Fisheries Supply is a marine distribution center that has operated since 1928 in the heart of Seattle’s maritime industry. It deployed Latitude in 2010 to improve order accuracy, but soon found other ways that the new WMS could improve its business, such as job prioritization. By taking advantage of the WMS’s built-in algorithms, Latitude helps employees determine which item is placed in the picking queue first and ranks each individual order by importance. This allows each team to pick the most urgent items 100 percent of the time. Fisheries Supply then realized that this prioritization feature could benefit Will Call orders as well.

Before deploying Latitude, Fisheries Supply assigned Will Call items to a single picker. If there was a sudden spike in Will Call orders, the picker couldn’t keep up and orders were delayed. Now, with paperless prioritization, the Will Call system looks at the urgency of each order, so it can be picked, packaged and ready for pickup within as little as 15 minutes. Customers, many of whom are local boat owners or mechanics that rely on parts and equipment from Fisheries to do their jobs, can come by and pick up their orders without any lost time or hassle. Latitude allows Fisheries Supply to have those crucial orders ready on schedule every time, which results in happy, loyal customers and repeat business.

To read this article in Industrial Supply, click here.

Warehouse Management System Features

Photo by Steven Depolo

How does a warehouse management system work, really? How does a WMS help you do business better? And what are the benefits to using a WMS?

As with most questions, the answer is “it depends”. Whether or not a WMS will turn your warehouse into a well-oiled, profit-producing machine depends a great deal on your warehouse, your industry, your business practices, your leadership, and your employees. But ultimately, a WMS should offer you the following benefits:

  • faster receiving, putaway, picking, shipping
  • more accurate inventory
  • fewer receiving and shipping errors

This might sound very basic, but trust us, these are major improvements for any distribution business. If you can ship your products to your customers be faster and more precisely than your competitors, then you’ve got an edge in your industry.

Your most basic WMS will offer you these benefits, and a good WMS will deliver all of that and more. As you can see from our Latitude WMS product brochure, Latitude WMS does a LOT more than simply making your operations more efficient in areas like picking and shipping and receiving. Latitude also does Returns. Cycle Counting. Replenishment. Package Manifesting (with certification from all majoy carriers). Consignment Inventory and Front Counter Orders. Holy heck, how awesome are front counter orders? So very awesome, that’s how awesome.

Latitude WMS has multi-dimensional functionality. It’s a broad product that also allows you to drill down into the smallest details. There’s so much that Latitude WMS can do for your warehouse, so why not go ahead and give PathGuide a call and see how we can help you gegive your distribution business a competitive edge?

Who Is Your Best Warehouse Employee? Warehouse Metrics

Every warehouse has a star employee: someone who shines brighter than the others, someone who picks more orders than anyone else, faster than anyone else. That star is often held up as an example to other employees.

Similarly, every warehouse also has an employee or two (or six, or ten) that lacks enthusiasm. They’re quiet, and appear slow. They pick fewer orders, they ship fewer orders. What if you found out that your quiet, most unassuming employee consistently picks and ships the most order lines, and with the lowest error rate?

Or what if your “star employee” actually makes dozens of errors a day and picks the fewest lines out of everyone? How would you know? Continue reading

Sneak Peek at Latitude 9.0.109 Features

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwl/

All sizes by Kenny Louie

New features! Improved functionality! More efficient usability! Greater insight into warehouse metrics!

This is why we have things like a User Conference, people! Your feedback gives us the data we need to enhance and improve our product.

Some of our bigger, newer features on the latest and greatest Latitude Warehouse Management system are listed below. For more data, contact us!

Metrics and Employee Tracking

 

  • User definable “periods” now extend the reporting / graphing capabilities.  Users can now select “Current Period” & “Prior Period” in addition to the traditional date ranges (“Today”, “Yesterday”, “Week to Date”, etc.).
  • The “Who Am I?” option on the RF terminal now shows the user’s current activity sheet event type.
  • A fixed zone can now be assigned to a user defined (overhead) activity sheet event type ensuring that a given activity is always accumulated for a selected zone.  For example, it is possible to have an overhead task for “unloading trucks” and to have that work captured in a designated zone for receiving.
  • Added additional fields to the Employee Error record. Fields include Customer ID, Salesman ID, Reported To, Reported By, Resolution Date, Transaction date, and more. These fields have been added to the Error Reports as well.
  • Enhanced editing of Metric Activity Sheet Events. Hours can be directly entered, and the employee’s “end time” automatically computed accordingly.
  • The zone for a given inventory metric is now defined by the source bin where the actively was performed rather than the employees “active zone.”
  • Added metric types! You can now track the Loading of Masterloads onto trucks by means of the MASTERLOAD.LOAD “transaction” metric and the LOAD “activity sheet” event. Similarly, Pre-receiving can be tracked by means of the RCPT.PRE transaction metric and the PRE-RECEIPT activity sheet metric

Cycle Counting

  • Cycle Count Discrepancies are now highlighted if an item’s inventory count is zero but the cycle count results in a positive inventory.
  • Discrepancy cycle counts are now listed as such on Latitude web.

General

  • Licensed Packages can now be viewed on the Latitude Web—visible by choosing the “System” + “Licenses” + “Optional Packages” link.

Latitude Manifesting (LMS)

  • Latitude Manifesting has received certification from UPS for 2011!
  • New shipment reference fields have been added to the customer record for shipping a package through LMS. Tags can be incorporated to map any field on the sales order header.

Orders

  • Definable time periods are now available that allow orders to automatically release (print) on a Carrier by Carrier basis (Activant P21 user only at this time).
  • New “Find” queries available on the RF to locate open and unloaded master loads using an existing master load number.
  • The Sales Order Dashboard Route Panel now shows remaining zones to pull for a particular route.
  • New Order Audit module has been added for tracking order accuracy.
  • Enhanced “Query Load” query now displays the assembly item code.

Shipping

  • Added a new system alert for sending notification to the “order taker” linked to an order when the assigned route number is changed.

Inventory

  • A new Adjustment Reason Code Profile is now available—users can be assigned a profile which defines which reason codes they are authorized to select when performing inventory adjustments.

As always, we thank you for your ongoing support – and we wish you all health and happiness during this holiday season.