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Shortening the lead time, increasing the level of ideal orders, organizing and automating processes are terms that are familiar to modern logistics and supply chain managers, as well as the general benefits from the introduction of a particular technology. The key question is where to start a specific project, what should be the sequence of steps, what pitfalls may be encountered on the way to achieving the goal. It is to these practical questions that this article is intended to give an answer - a guide and assistant in building an effective data exchange system between the company's product distribution systems (ERP) and the warehouse operator's WMS. The procedure is based on the example of changing the provider of warehouse services for a large international wholesale and retail network for the distribution of branded clothing, which will also be of interest to managers of companies in other spheres.
Consider situations in which work is needed to optimize the data exchange system:
- Change of provider of warehouse services and / or ERP;
- Desire to optimize current components, for example, implementation and automation of additional warehouse services (labeling - labeling, alarms, etc.).
Integration by means of transmission of EDI messages (Electronic Data / Document Interchange) is an automated exchange of standardized files (text, Excel, etc.), with a set of fields defined for each process and a single interpretation in both programs. The main task of the project manager is to determine the business requirements for the systems and draw up a competent task for IT specialists with subsequent test scenarios and functional control.
At the first stage, the main processes of EDI and warehouse integration processing associated with the physical movement of goods are identified:
● Acceptance of goods to the warehouse;
● Assembling orders;
● Shipment of orders.
Next, you need to highlight the types of items that correspond to various methods of warehouse processing, for example: ● Piece goods, address storage in cells;
● Cross Dock for wholesale clients (hereinafter referred to as "Cross");
● POS materials (including packages, equipment, etc.) (hereinafter "POSM");
Finally, goods that do not require a separate storage system, but are isolated both physically and virtually - for such types of products it is effective to use the "Status" parameter (alternatively, the use of virtual objects of their accounting, which is not an effective tool): - Marriage, markdown (separate storage areas); - Blocked goods (for various reasons, for example, this is a mass production defect that is stored on the shelves, but is prohibited for shipment); - Lost goods. In the process of warehouse operation, a discrepancy between the physical availability of goods and these systems appears, an effective solution is to place such units in the status of "Lost by the Warehouse" before inventory, while they will not be available for assembly orders, but if the warehouse finds an item, it will return in the main status - "For Sale". Thus, for each process there will be three different scenarios according to the types of nomenclature - the acceptance of goods on the shelves differs from the acceptance of boxes with advertising products (processing unit - box), respectively, and the system requirements will differ. And also four states of the status of goods - "Marriage (4)", "Blocking (3)", "Lost by the warehouse (2)", "For Sale (1)". The next stage is the decomposition of the main processes into subprocesses. At this stage, it is recommended to draw up a detailed map of warehouse cargo handling for each item (for example, in Excel, indicating storage areas and a clear sequence of actions, this will be needed in the future when integrating EDI with processes). In a generalized form, the scheme is as follows:
● Placement in the warehouse of a task for acceptance;
● Unloading, acceptance in places;
● Acceptance in terms of quantity and quality, placement of goods in storage places;
● Receiving confirmation and acceptance results from the warehouse;
● Reflection of minuses, pluses, re-grading.
B) Collecting orders
● Placement of an assembly task in a warehouse;
● Formation of waybill assembly, selection of goods from storage sites;
● Implementation of additional services;
● Packaging and labeling of boxes, printing of packing lists;
● Moving the order to the dispatch forwarding zone;
● Receipt of confirmation and assembly results from the warehouse.
C) Shipment of goods
● Loading the vehicle;
● Printing of correct documents (TTN, Bidding, Specifications, MX, etc.);
● Confirmation of shipment.
It should be noted that the EDI message has the property of unidirectionality, therefore, within each sub-process, it is possible to distinguish the directions of data transmission and determine the types of messages.
We at Cogential IT helps you seamlessly connect with your EDI partners. With our reliable EDI solution you can have better control over you Warehouse EDI integration and visibility of your supply chain events. As a result, you can speed up and automate your business process and get the maximum benefits out of it.