Tag Archives: inventory management

Hope Is Not a Strategy When Deciding Which WMS is Right for Your Warehouse or DC

If your warehouse isn’t making you money, it’s costing you money.

Can something as simple as WMS software really help transform your warehouse to a profit center? It can, and it does. You have many options, but finding the right system is where the waters start to muddy. Why? Because it also means picking a partner with a solid track record that also sees the value in building a strong relationship, all while offering software that can scale the same way your business will.

Take a close look at your warehouse or DC. Is there an opportunity to shrink the cost of doing business? When it comes to warehouse operations, the pressure to sharpen your productivity to keep your customer’s experience and expectations at the highest level is a daily test – a test your competitor might be passing with flying colors.

Here are four ways the right WMS will provide vast benefit to your bottom line and operations:

1) Receiving, storage and inventory management. You need the ability to track and manage resources within your warehouse. Manual and paper-based systems won’t cut it. If you’ve ever done a manual cycle count using a pen and clipboard, then you’ll appreciate how time-consuming, disruptive and erroneous the task is.

2) Better shipping and outbound processes. As items get ready for shipping, a WMS has features that can improve the packing, staging and loading processes. The best WMS solutions integrate with ERP systems. A WMS can help reduce transportation costs by automating the choice of carriers based on the shipment – a big relief for warehouses already experiencing growth in the number of smaller, individual parcels attributed to our friend, e-Commerce.

3) Streamlining inbound transportation. We like whiteboards and Excel spreadsheets as much as the next guy, but they aren’t great tools when it comes to managing inbound transportation. A WMS that automates all operations, from ITM receiving and order picking, to manifesting and truck route/stop management with delivery confirmation translates to gains, including the ability to plan staffing levels and assign equipment when and where it’s needed.

4) Reducing training time while increasing labor visibility. The examples above make sense when it comes to inventory management, shipping and inbound transportation, but what about employee training and performance metrics? What if we told you that integrated RF scanners can reduce training time from two weeks to one day? This is especially important for warehouses with high turnover rates due to seasonality.

If your warehouse or bottom line keeps you up at night, now’s the time to step up to Latitude WMS. Contact us to learn what other users experienced before, during and after deploying Latitude WMS.

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Managing eCommerce Fulfillment

For today’s Latitude Tips and Tricks, we’ll walk through how you can use Latitude WMS and the Latitude Manifest & Shipping System (LMS) to manage eCommerce fulfillment orders seamlessly and automatically. LMS provides two primary methods for fulfilling eCommerce orders with Latitude integration: Shipper Account Profile and Third Party Billing. Both options can support direct-to-customer and direct-to-store order types.

Shipper Account Profile

An LMS Account Profile is created for the fulfillment account. The orders are seamlessly processed through the LMS Account Profile, through Customer or Carrier configurations in Latitude, to automatically link the order to the fulfillment account.

Create a Dedicated Account Profile: In LMS, create a separate Account Profile that will be configured with the Fulfillment Shipper’s account information. Go to the LMS Management Console, then select Account ProfilesMoreAdd an Account Profile. Configure the account information, and use the Label Address tab to fill in the desired “from” information for the outbound labels. You may also optionally add a logo to the profile, for use on 8” label formats. Use the Functions menu to customize the label with Add Company Logo, and browse to the appropriate image file.

Setting Up a Carrier Override to the Account: In Latitude, you can use the Carrier maintenance screen to set the Override Shipper value on the LMS-mapped Carrier so that it matches the new fulfillment shipper account profile.

Setting Up a Customer Override to the Account: Another option is to set up a Customer record, and configure it to always map to the new account profile using the Fixed Shipper property. Enable the Use as Label From Address checkbox for correct label formatting, if needed.

Then, when a new order is imported for the linked carrier or customer, and opened in LMS for shipping, the station console will automatically select the linked account profile for the shipment. The profile From Address is also used as the label return address for this profile.

Third Party Billing

The Latitude Order is imported as Third Party Billing order type, and uses the Freight Account property on the order to save the proper account number. When the order is shipped, the shipment automatically bills to the fulfillment account number.

Configure Ship-From Address on Customer Record: Configure the Third Party Address on the Latitude Customer maintenance screen, and check the Use as Label From Address to display the correct label information.

Order Import Properties: On the Sales Order, the order must be imported with Third Party Billing, while using the Customer Freight Account field to import the correct account number.

Third Party Accessorials: When the order is processed in LMS, the Third Party accessorial will display the configured “from” address and customer account number from the imported order.

To use the new Latitude tracking detail to launch package information, you simply go into the Tracking tab in the Review Sales Order screen and click the tracking number.  If you just want to view the label, you click on the Forms tab and then drill down.

Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks post, and check 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 there’s a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

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 for Inventory Management

Being able to instantly access information about your inventory is powerful. Do you know what product you have, how much of it is available and where it’s located? More importantly, can you count on this information to be accurate? Latitude WMS has every function you need for complete visibility. Here are some tips you might not know about, but are huge warehouse time-savers.

New Latitude WMS Search Tools

Save time by checking inventory and sales orders in Latitude Web.

  • To find a specific sales order, go to Activities – Order Processing – Find a Sales Order, enter some of the identifying information and hit “Find
  • To find inventory, go to Activities – Order Processing – Find Inventory and enter the bin number for a list of the inventory contained in that bin.
  • You can also filter the list of inventory items by column to help you track down that one specific order you’re looking for. Right-click on any web column header and left-click “Filter” from the drop-down menu. You can also left-click any web column heading and enter the value that you want to filter.

Inventory Contents Label

Latitude WMS can print a label that displays the contents of any load or bin location on demand. This is similar to a Carton Contents Label, but isn’t tied to an order. It’s especially useful for printing the contents of a mixed pallet location for a quick info lookup. To do this from an RF terminal, hit F3 – Tools – Labels – Inventory Content Label, scan the source Load or Bin, and enter the number of labels that you need. These labels can be customized or set to automatically print during the receiving process if you want hard copies of documentation for incoming shipments.

Replace the Annual Physical Inventory with Cycle Counting

Many of our customers want to get rid of this warehouse tradition entirely because it’s disruptive to normal warehouse processes and dreaded by every warehouse employee.

In fact, many customers report a mysterious flu epidemic when the time comes for the annual inventory. With Latitude’s Cycle Count Planning Module, you can set items that you want to count on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. The module will assign workers to do a few counts per day and keep you on track. A number of our customers have eliminated the annual physical inventory entirely with no loss in inventory accuracy, and a definite improvement in worker moral.

I hope that some of this information can help improve productivity in your warehouse. For more tips, tricks and Latitude hacks, come see us in person at the Latitude User Conference next week, May 22-24! It’s not too late to register!

If you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please let us know. You can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

 

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!

 

PathGuide’s Latitude WMS Travels the Globe

PathGuide recently discussed its business growth in Canada, but did you know that the sales boundaries for the Latitude warehouse management system stretch to other parts of the globe?

As an example, Latitude has been deployed in Panama since 2009.  It was selected for use by Rodelag S.A., a well-known retail chain with more than 500 employees that services the entire country. Rodelag has been a trusted name in Panama since 1950 when two prominent families, the Romeros and the La Guardias, joined forces to bring a Sears-like department store to the Chiriqui Province.  Today, Rodelag offers everything from motorbikes to clothing in branch storefronts found in small towns such as Chitre as well as in the capital of Panama City.

Panama is experiencing explosive economic growth.  Over the past decade, it has been one of the fastest growing economies worldwide, and dominates the growth of its neighbors in Central America.  Average annual growth was 7.2 percent between 2001 and 2013, more than double the regional average.  It’s estimated that its growth in 2015 will remain a respectable 6.2 percent.

Panama’s economic climate has enticed other retailers to enter the market.  So how does an older, stable company like Rodelag continue to remain relevant to its customers in such a fast-growing environment?  By adding technologies such as PathGuide’s Latitude Warehouse Management Software.  Latitude helped it re-engineer its warehouse and distribution operations, facilitating better customer service and more efficient inventory management.  The customer service element is particularly important in Panama, which does not have a long history of retail customer loyalty; for generations, residents have routinely shopped more than one retailer to compare prices.  A WMS such as Latitude helps Rodelag ensure that the most needed items are in stock at its facilities, engendering customer satisfaction and repeat sales.

Are cheaper WMSs better?

Photo by David Paul Ohmer

When it comes to making a purchase as large and important as a WMS, start-up cost is not a minor factor. It’s not as if purchasing a warehouse management system is a small investment, after all. From the cost of the actual equipment to the software, to the training, to all of the employee time invested in learning how to work with inventory management, implementing a warehouse management system is a big deal. Continue reading