Category Archives: Warehouse Picking

Interview with Douglas Hunter, chairman of PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board (LAB)

We recently spoke with Douglas Hunter, the newly elected chairman of PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board (LAB). Douglas is the operations manager at Eldorado Trading Company, and was the original implementation champion at Eldorado when Latitude WMS was first rolled out. He has been a part of the industry for many years, and shared some of his views and advice about getting the most out of Latitude.

PathGuide: What are some of the benefits or unique ways you use Latitude WMS?

Douglas: Latitude has provided a major improvement to our business in inventory management and in staff performance by increasing accountability and reducing manual steps. Previously, we used our ERP to manage all warehouse inventory operations, which did not give us data in real time or with much detail. Managing inventory and order processing was extremely labor-intensive due to the ERP’s inability to manage inventory in multiple locations, as well as the required time-consuming action of sorting and processing picks on paper.

The customization that we tend to describe as our “game changers” are the automation in order routing by customer type, carrier and FIFO, in a paperless pick environment. We can now manage inventory in real time in multiple locations, instead of our previous practice of using manual reference fields to know secondary or back-stock locations. The customization of the LMS Manifesting & Shipping System offered by PathGuide removed countless manual practices and allowed us to process more orders without adding additional stations or staff. Finally, the ability to add customized reports, alerts, and dashboards has helped us reduce email volume due to manual alerts, and has given us strong visibility down to the team or individual level for performance metrics.

PathGuide: Why did you join PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board (LAB)?

Douglas: For me, being a LAB member means having stronger insight into the growth of PathGuide’s products and vision plans. It also means having the ability to give feedback from an operational standpoint on areas in need of improvement or presenting ‘outside the box’ ideas that we identify in the day-to-day use of our WMS. The LAB gives power-users of Latitude the ability to brainstorm new concepts with PathGuide’s talented team, in order to continue enhancing an already great product.

PathGuide: What advice would you give to companies considering a WMS?

Douglas: Do an ROI plan with strategic growth goals and an analysis of your practices in order to identify the areas needing improvement. Far too often, the larger issues are obvious because they are the triggers for your organization’s search for a WMS in the first place. If you are struggling on where to start this analysis, review white papers on warehouse inefficiencies or visit a best-in-class facility to see processes that are stronger than those in your own operations. Examples of some areas to focus on are inventory accuracy, measuring productivity, pick path sequencing, and paper picking.

You should know what your company wants to achieve by adding a WMS to your operations. The benefits of adding Latitude WMS include warehousing visibility improvements and automation. From staff productivity visibility, real-time information on item storage in multiple locations, faster dock-to-stock in receiving, stronger order release control, a more accurate inventory, customizable manifesting features, or a product that will grow with your company, Latitude can enhance the capabilities of your business and increase your customer’s satisfaction through timely, accurate orders.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better customer service practice in any industry.

Latitude Tips and Tricks for Picking

Latitude WMS is full of useful features designed to make warehouse tasks or functions easier and more efficient, and we’re constantly adding new functionality based on customer feedback. We want you, our customers, to get the most out of Latitude, so over the next several weeks we’ll explain some of the many tips, tricks, and little-known capabilities in Latitude to help anyone become a power-user. Let’s start with picking.

Inventory Control Cones

Many warehouses need to store materials in a temporary location, whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks during busy periods. Putting labels on pallets sometimes helps, but they can often be hard to locate physically and in the system – load labels can be easily damaged and you’ll be lucky if anyone can remember which pallet is number “09657.” Instead, buy some brightly colored cones and set them up as temporary bin locations or “Loads” in Latitude (loads do not have to be scanned during a physical inventory, and some customers find it simpler to use them for short-term use). You can set the bin numbers to something specific, for example: G + a number for green cones, R + number for red cones, etc.). Print labels for them (the 4” x 6” format works best) and train your employees to use the cones instead of bins. Most customers find that the cones are much easier to locate than pallets because they’re simple to set up and remove.

Multiple Label Printers

Did you know that Latitude WMS allows you to set a secondary printer for certain types of labels, or set a dedicated label printer for a specific label format? This prevents cross-functional Latitude users from needing to switch label printers as they do different tasks.

Here’s how:

  • To set up a secondary printer from an RF terminal, press F3 – Setup – Printers, choose Label-Secondary and select your secondary printer. Carton Contents and Inventory Contents are the only formats currently supported.
  • To set Label Printer assignment, go to Administration – System Configuration – Label Printer Assignment in Latitude Web and add the Label Format and the Label Printer name. That type of label will now always print from the selected printer.

Toggling the Pickable Inventory Flag

Latitude allows users to toggle inventory’s pickable status via the RF terminal. This lets you easily update inventory status on the fly, such as when you need to pick from an overstock bin that is usually not pickable.

  • To do this, press F3 – Inventory – Adjustments – Toggle Pickable on your RF terminal. You’ll be prompted for the bin, the item and the lot/serials, if applicable. Enter them and the item will now be pickable. If it was already pickable, you’ll get an error.
  • You can also set up a prompt to toggle this automatically when you perform a Move, Unload or Putaway transaction. Go into “Prompt for Pickable Override upon Unload and Putaway” in Latitude Web and set to “Y”.

If you like what you just read, be sure and stay tuned for more Latitude WMS tips and tricks, as this is just one article of a five-part series.

For more tips, tricks and Latitude hacks, come see us in person at the Latitude User Conference on May 22-24.

If you have questions about any of these tips, please contact our Support Team at 888-627-9797. We’re here to help!

 

Voice-controlled WMS Primes Distribution Centers for Growth

Voice-controlled warehouse management system (WMS) applications have rapidly matured into a proven solution for improving the speed and accuracy of processes within distribution center and warehouse operations. These applications are most commonly associated with picking and order selection, however, many warehouses that use voice picking have also adapted it for other functions such as receiving, put-away, stock replenishment, truck loading, returns and cycle counting.

Why is voice such a valuable tool in the warehouse? The biggest reason is because voice-controlled applications allow warehouse workers to use both hands while picking, packing, and shipping items – rather than needing one hand to scan barcodes and other labels. In the case of Latitude WMS users, the system creates an efficient order of tasks, and uses simple instructions to guide workers to pick and pull relevant items.

Compared to traditional warehouse processes using pen and paper or handheld computers and barcode scanning, a voice picking system creates a hands-free, heads-up user workflow. In the case of Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale distributor serving 11 western states, voice-controlled processes were slowly rolled out using Latitude after it was first deployed in 2010. Jensen particularly noticed a dramatic improvement when the company moved from batch picking and label picking to a voice-controlled system that allowed workers in the warehouse to go completely hands free.

Jim Hart, senior vice president of operations at Jensen, summed up the benefits of voice. “Quality is huge here at Jensen, so with eCommerce fulfillment transactions growing 80 percent in the past year, Latitude with Vocollect has allowed Jensen to pick a perfect, or a near perfect order. We’re tracking at 0.05 percent errors, compared with 1 percent before our WMS. In fact, this system makes it difficult to make a mistake.”

For more information about how PathGuide’s Latitude WMS integrates with voice, visit our website here.

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.

What is inventory management and how does it work?

Watch how a single product enters a warehouse, is received, tracked, and then later picked and shipped. This is how inventory management works with a Latitude Warehouse Management System.

Track how inventory is managed through both handheld scanners and Latitude Web (a web-based management tool that gives you real-time insight into where inventory is and where it’s not). From the time that a product is received into the warehouse until the moment it is shipped out to a customer, Latitude WMS makes the management of inventory easy.

Whether you sell small, inexpensive goods or large, industrial machinery (or both), Latitude Warehouse Management System will help you automate your inventory management, so you won’t have any nasty surprises when an order is placed.

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?

A Clean Warehouse Saves You Money

Who knew that something as simple as keeping a neighborhood clean could lead to a reduction in violent crime?

The Broken Windows Theory is discussed at length in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.” Based on an article originally published in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1982, the Broken Windows Theory examines how something as simple as removing graffiti and fixing smashed windows in urban public housing projects can dramatically reduce the crime rate in the area. Not just small petty crimes, but larger, more violent ones as well.

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