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Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
05-11-2013, 04:32 PM (This post was last modified: 05-11-2013 05:02 PM by Buz.)
Post: #1
Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
I've followed some of the discussion on SourceForge about warehouse management between Phil and Exson. Is there a date when this major upgrade can be expected? Boy, would I love to see this!

But there are some open questions. How can I:

- print row/rack/bin barcode labels so locs can be labeled for scanning.
- scan a received item into a barcoded bin location. Ideally, the system should suggest a bin location to place the item.
- pick from locs by scanning bin and item barcodes, based on pick lists.
- print stock locations on pick lists (hopefully, including barcodes). Phil says this can be done at http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum...erp-users, but it's not clear how.

Cycle count would be nice, but Inventory Checks as defined in the Inventory (aka "Stock") section of the manual will work. Is there a source to clarify "The data can be scanned in - using portable data terminal or keyed in at the time of counting using a wireless tablet."?

I just checked the Stock Check Sheets - there's no bin loc info, so how will counter know where to go?

This is elusive stuff, but really important. I'm sure answers will help the entire community.

Thanks,
Buz
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05-12-2013, 07:47 AM
Post: #2
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Ho Buz,

Well your questions presuppose that we already have warehouse management ... but we don't! All we have currently is a label for the bin where the stock is held. The only place it shows is on packing slips and the stock status inquiry.
The generic packing slip shows the location of the stock - that has been entered in the stock status inquiry. It is not currently possible to have many different locations for the same stock item (in the same warehouse) - it is only possible to have one standard location - which is just a free form text field.

http://www.weberp.org/weberp/StockStatus...ckID=BREAD

The stock check does not refer to where the stock might be found - would be a nice addition. There is plenty of development work that could be done around this - it would need a business to get in behind webERP development and give their work back or provide some sponsorship :-)
I know Exson has someone working on full inventory management - but this has its draw backs and is really only appropriate for very large warehouses as there is a large overhead for additional input. Every stock movement needs then to speicify where the stock has come from and where the stock is being put away to - which is a bear when even for medium sized warehouses good staff already know where the stock is. I am also worried about the extent of the changes necessary to acheive full warehouse management and it would have to be done in a new branch - I suspect it would take a major commitment to get such a branch stable again and I suspect the reason why Exson's associates have spent a very long time on this development.

I think you would need to be in a warehouse where it needs more than 4 full time people to run it before warehouse management makes any sense - as otherwise it creates a LOT of additional input for information that warehouse staff who handle the stock would already know. In addition, standard bin locations as we have already probably extends the capability even further - but I accept that it is potentially not an efficient way (storage wise) to run a warehouse. As potentially you may have areas set aside for stock that is depleted (empty bays) which would be nice to use for other stock.

Phil Daintree
webERP Admin
Logic Works Ltd
http://www.logicworks.co.nz
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05-12-2013, 08:26 PM (This post was last modified: 05-12-2013 10:48 PM by Buz.)
Post: #3
Heart RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Thanks for the update, Phil. I was using webERP 4.10.0, installed on a web host for me by Mo Kelly. The version with bin location is 4.10.1, which I just tried in localhost. So, not unusually for me, I was working from a position of ignorance.

As you say, support for putaway and picking in webERP is too slim for a large operation. But with a good warehouse mgt system, you'd have an SAP-killer! All the other pieces are there, 'tho I'm not yet familiar enough yet to judge with any authority.

I wonder if a small outfit would be able to use webERP minimally, even with a full-on WMS in place, by defining as little as one stock location, say: "closet". And then using Inventory Adjustments to receive product. He'd never even see the WMS, or other webERP complexities, using the trick you showed us of how to restrict access to (and view of) pages.

But with a competent WMS, you'd be able to reach out to big players and grow exponentially, getting rich enough to maybe take Tim to lunch! Heart

I have a neighbor who is CFO at a $100 MM manufacturing company with a local 200,000 sf warehouse and at least six other locations around the US as well as several foreign joint ventures. They run the local warehouse manually! They rely on physical counts twice a year to reconcile inventory. Since these counts tend to be inaccurate, he has no idea how much shrinkage there is. Maybe I'll ask him if they'd be willing to work with you on a WMS. But beware, his company, like many others, has weathered severe financial storms in recent years, so money will be tight. Still, he might be interested in spending $100K on a webERP implementation, instead of $5MM for SAP.

If this is not the best place to continue this discussion, please direct me to an alternate.

Regards,
Buz
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05-13-2013, 11:09 AM
Post: #4
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Dear all:

It's a interesting to read your discussion.
We're still develop the bin management module.
And the progress is slow since it's just developed at spare time. And it is involved then we expected before since it affected so many processes. Looking around that there seems no eagerly requirements for this feature. That's another reason for the sluggish development -Smile. There seems some requirements before, but as we hope to check what's the actual daily operation of warehouse management, it's denied. So I believe that there is no urgent request for this.
Anyway, it's still on the way and let me try to get a estimated deadline for it within this week.

Thanks and best regards!

Exson
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05-13-2013, 12:13 PM (This post was last modified: 05-13-2013 12:18 PM by phil.)
Post: #5
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Loving your humour Buz Big Grin

Yes - warehouse management would make us a player in the next tier I think as you say. My experience is really down a level from this size of business so out of my comfort zone a bit and I am not really totally clear on the requirements of such a business. But yes in a warehouse the size you suggest then warehouse management would be a necessity. I did write one in visual basic for a company I worked for previously so I do have some experience. We used a PDT with some intelligence - but a ruggedised tablet would make more sense these days. Due to the depth of the linkages into every transaction - the process of confirming an invoices would require as well as selection of the serial items/batches dispatched, the bin location where each serial number came from - so a whole load more work for every transaction - there would need to be a way to turn it off too - as most smaller businesses would be better off without it.

You can contact me off-forum if you prefer - I don't mind either way. Nice to have discussion here for others to see.

If you have a lead for me with respect to webERP development work then yes probably best to email phil@logicworks.co.nz

Phil Daintree
webERP Admin
Logic Works Ltd
http://www.logicworks.co.nz
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05-14-2013, 01:59 AM
Post: #6
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Hi Phil, Exson and any other webERPers interested in WMS:

I designed and wrote the WMS for a mid-range wholesale distributor (about $75 MM annual revenue) about 15 yrs ago and managed the whole huge, custom ERP project, so I may be able to help a little.

WMS design can be tricky, but surprisingly, it's not code intensive. Another surprise: it's pretty independent of the rest of the ERP solution, mostly because my design did NOT examine inventory at order entry time. The client bought out-of-stock inventory from a re-distributor at end of day to satisfy incomplete orders, before picking. My client refused to disappoint customers.

The system kept track of all inventory locations by barcode (each bin location was also barcoded). It knew how much free space was available in each bin and so was able to recommend putaway locations, with operator override. Picking was driven by route; the operator was directed to each location to pick items. It would typically take one pass through the warehouse to pick a route because putaway was randomized, so it was likely that the next pick item was nearby.

Cycle count is a must and was included in my implementation. One CEO I spoke to said he hadn't counted in several years because he knew they could never reconcile. My client did a physical count one a year. It took from Fri evening until the next Mon morning with a crew of about 50 counters. They'd typically count three times because the counts differed so much; they accepted an error rate of about 20% as normal. After implementation, cycle counts took about 8 hours with three counters ... during regular business hours and with an error rate of less than 0.3%.

We used touch-screen computers mounted on forklifts. No paper. It should be easier and much less costly today. The local warehouse was about 150,000 SF and had a crew of about 72 workers. After implementation and lots and LOTS of tweaks, headcount went down to about 40.

So it was challenging but fun.

If you're interested, I'll ask my old client if I can share screen shots and some description with you. I'm sure he will not agree to share the code (it's 4GL code anyway, so would not be much use).

I initially looked at webERP as result of indirect recommendation from Mo Kelly; I did this to support a friend who has an interest in ERP. And now I'm getting sucked in further and further ...

Regards anyway,
Buz
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05-14-2013, 07:29 AM
Post: #7
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Hi Buz,
Sounds like a great fun project and good to have your practical hands on knowledge to lean on. I must say, and perhaps because this is the background I come from, when practical business people get involved with programming there is a sweet marriage that results in great business software. I am often a little hard on academic software engineers who lack the practical business knowledge - who revel in abstraction almost for it's own sake. I like to peel this right back so the logic is exposed and in one place with context provided by the messages and display (contrary to accepted computer science graduates best practice). It is a "thing" for me to get people like you into webERP ... so very pleased to hear that you are getting excited by the possibilities.
By cyclical counting you mean - a bin check ... so a group of bins can be checked on a cyclical basis? Currently the stock take functionality allows us to check by product category only and in a warehouse management situation this is no good as one would have to go through all bins to figure out how many of each SKU.
The VB one I wrote also was fully barcoded aisle/bay/level organised although it was only a component store - small plastic mouldings and sub-assemblies - really in a lean operation much of that inventory should not actually have existed. We had only really started our lean transformation when production was shifted to Malaysisa :-(

Phil Daintree
webERP Admin
Logic Works Ltd
http://www.logicworks.co.nz
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05-14-2013, 06:50 PM (This post was last modified: 05-14-2013 07:01 PM by Buz.)
Post: #8
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Hi Phil.

First, cycle counting is required for a WMS. Inventory must be nearly 100% accurate so that when a picker goes to an assigned location that the system thinks contains the next item to be picked, it is actually there. If he has to pick from an alternate location to satisfy the customer order, this may affect the next picker. This can eventually bring the system to a halt and can be grossly inefficient with much greater travel time and frustration.

Cycle counting allows one or more items to be counted per day. My client started with all items in a single day, twice a year - old habits die hard. Eventually, one forklift operator counted several items every day. This took about two hours per day. Error rates settled down to much less than 1%.

The items to be counted are scheduled by a warehouse manager and approved after the count by an accounting manager.

Physical counts typically require shutting down the warehouse until the count is finished. Cycle count relies on variance and so can be done during regular business hours, with receiving, picking, etc going on as usual. Interestingly, because the items counted each day were not known to warehouse workers, shrinkage was dramatically reduced. Client was very happy with this unexpected outcome!

I placed a call to my old client to get his permission to share screen shots and description. I expect to hear back today. And I'll have to dig into all this. I've forgotten lots of details. Blush

If he approves, I'll put together a first PDF on Warehouse configuration, Schedule cycle count, Cycle count (forklift operation), Cycle count review/approve and Inventory status check. This is the way to bootstrap inventory and get underway.

Buz
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05-20-2013, 05:06 AM (This post was last modified: 05-20-2013 08:31 PM by Buz.)
Post: #9
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Hi all,

Attached is a first cut at documentation for a Warehouse Management System. The intent is to get started with the first part: getting inventory known to the system. So it looks at defining storage spaces, cycle counting and querying the new inventory after it's counted into the system.

I've re-purposed some documentation from the system I designed and developed and because we used a 4GL, the "look and feel" is quite different. No matter. The only point is to convey design ideas.

I think the pieces outlined in the PDF are simple and should co-exist with webERP pretty easily. I'm also sure there will be many questions and objections. I'll try to answer as I have time. So will MaryBeth, who is working with on this (she did the original doc way back when).

Regards,
Buz


Attached File(s)
.pdf  Warehouse Management System, part 1.pdf (Size: 515.95 KB / Downloads: 70)
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05-20-2013, 02:41 PM
Post: #10
RE: Warehouse management, bin locations, barcode scanning, etc
Hi, Buz:

Thank you for your contribution! It's great that we have an expert to involve creating a WMS in weberp.

But where is the attachment? -:

Best regards!

Exson
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