Managing Work Orders & Customer Orders in the Same Application? Imagine That!

So often I will find companies that are using two different applications to manage work-In-process (WIP) Inventory and finished goods inventory. Granted they are distinctly different types of operations: one makes products and one ships it to your customers. But there are many similarities as well. Both use workers to move product to and from their work areas. Both use storage locations. Both have lines to process their work (production & picking lines respectively). Both work against a schedule.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could run both of these types of operations with a single application? Well, you guessed it! I am here to tell you that you can. Some Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) have the capabilities to handle requirements of both operations. JDA® Warehouse Management has this capability.

Watch Tom Kozenski provide an overview of the JDA® Warehouse Management solution.

It starts with the concept of an order. A WMS can accept work orders as well as customer orders from a host system and understand that they are processed quite differently. Customer orders are likely going to be “wave planned” and released to the pick line prior to the required ship date & time. A work order will be scheduled to a production line prior to the required completion time. In both examples, the WMS will replenish or stage the inventory based on the demand of the orders. For the work orders, it will be based on the bill of material for the product being assembled or produced. As this inventory is consumed or picked, the WMS will monitor their consumption and determine when more inventory is needed. This continues until either the work order is complete, or all of the customer orders have been shipped. At some point, the finished goods item comes off of the production line and will be either stored for future allocations, or brought to the dock for staging/loading. The customer order coming off of the picking line will also be brought to the dock for staging/loading.

So do you see the potential synergies? They resonate around the key warehousing concepts of location and labor management. When you use a single WMS to manage both production and customer orders, you can optimize the use of warehouse space, the use of the labor workforce, and minimize your capital expenditures. Warehouse space can be shared by finished goods, raw materials, sub-assemblies, and components. The alternative is to dedicate space to one or the other. If there are open slots in one area, you can’t put the other products into them when you use two different applications. This can keep you from building on more warehouse space or using expensive temporary outside storage. This will dramatically improve your overall space utilization in the facility. Similarly, the labor workforce can be shared across both operations. Forklift operators can be directed by the WMS to drop down inventory to both the production and picking lines. Workers can be directed to replenish both lines when stock hits a minimum threshold. The workers can also be directed to pick up the completed products or orders from either line. In short, this model helps to keep your workers busy and optimizing their efforts by looking at the big picture of both work areas. When that happens, you can delay the need to buy more forklift equipment because you are getting the most out of the equipment you already have.

Sound like an area of opportunity for you? Go out on the floor and observe how your processes compare. Does you production area work in isolation from the picking area? Is the bulk area over-filled in one area and the other area has plenty of space. Are your workers busy in one area and standing around in the other area? Do you have forklifts standing for long periods of time because there is no work to do in that area at this time? If you say YES to any of these, then you might have opportunities to bring additional efficiencies to your overall operation. It might be time for you to embrace shared capacities and shared resources across these two domains. It might even eliminate some of the friction between departments. Who says that production and shipping can’t play well together?!? I think that they can.

Discover how Beaver Street Fisheries is improving warehouse operations with JDA Warehouse Management and Workforce Management solutions.

  3 Comments   Comment

  1. I totally agree. the more systems you have in your facility the harder it gets. It is much better to use one integrated system for all things rahter than having to deal with interfaces.

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