The key benefits of a warehouse management system: the replenishment process
In the second part of our series on Return on Investment (ROI) which can be gained from the implementation of a Warehouse Management System, Eric Carter, Solutions Architect examines the replenishment process.
In the second part of our series on Return on Investment (ROI) which can be gained from the implementation of a Warehouse Management System, Eric Carter, Solutions Architect at Indigo Software, examines the replenishment process.
Replenishment constitutes a fundamental task within any warehouse. It’s a simple idea. Make sure that when one of your warehouse operators goes to a location to pick the stock, there is enough stock there to meet demand. How difficult can that be?
Well, in my 23 years experience, it’s not without its complications. Products come in all shapes and sizes so ensuring the picking location is appropriately stocked is vital.
In order to drive this process correctly and to avoid uncommitted order lines, each item of stock needs to have replenishment rules set appropriately. These rules will define how replenishment triggers are utilised and will work well for the vast majority of cases. In some instances, a more demand-led replenishment task is required. For example, releasing a wave of orders may require a large number of cases to be picked from an individual picking location. It makes sense, therefore, to ensure that replenishment tasks are completed prior to the time the actual picking task will take place.
Structured replenishment processes greatly improve the ‘flow’ of goods through the picking areas in the business and can significantly decrease the order to despatch time. A WMS can manage the movement of stock, timing the actual replenishment with extreme accuracy to ensure that when an operator gets to a picking location all the stock required for that particular pick is available at that time.
Without a warehouse management system, these processes simply take longer. Time is money and by looking at the replenishment tasks in detail, a typical ROI calculation can be made.
On a recent discovery visit we highlighted the non-productive replenishment time to the prospect.
This was a scenario where typically up to 325 hours per year were lost by warehousing staff searching manually on a spread sheet to find the stock location, highlighting the appropriate stock and issuing a paper instruction to the warehouse operator. This can easily be doubled if, as is the case in many warehouses, there is no spread sheet and just the ‘lads’ know where the stock is.
On average 150 replenishments took place each week and the paperwork for each replenishment task took 10 minutes. This meant that 1300 hours were being wasted each year – which totalled at least £13,000 per year. Or, looking at it from a different angle, 150 replenishments equates to 25 hours per week which equals 67% of a warehouse operators weekly working time.
With a warehouse management system, this time is immediately saved, saving your company thousands each year.