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functions is completely RF and bar code enabled within the application. The entire system also extends to a level of detail that includes both serialization and lot controlled items. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are now assuming different functionality from fi ve years ago. WMS was generally purchased in a more stand alone environment; today the best Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) packages already have a fully integrated WMS package. With more manufacturers taking on a distribution role (due to globalization), WMS has kept up with this changing dynamic, according to Rebecca Gill, vice-president of Technology Group International. “Distributors need to provide value to differentiate themselves,” she says. “This must come from key deliverables to the customer. From high quality, compliance labeling, to correct advanced shipment notifi cations (ASNs), and near perfect fi ll rates, a distributor must show value. There is much more emphasis placed on the distributor’s services.” Another key element in assessing the effi cacy of a WMS system is tight inventory control. Sending a package overnight from China due to poor inventory management is costly and not viable on an ongoing basis. The distributor must have solid inventory management in place and have extremely strong order policies. DRP elements such as “min/max” levels and activity based safety stocks are key to long-term success. With so many WMS bolt-on solutions the lean effi ciencies are lost. When ERP systems are updated, the bolt-on solutions require upgrading. When the bolton WMS systems are updated, new integration issues often arise with the ERP system. Gill argues that the integration of ERP and WMS functionality is vital as more manufacturers straddle the distribution role; enterprise-wide solutions must include their own fully enabled WMS module; not an add-on and not a separate module that is added to the sell price. “The system must be part of the core package and fully interconnected to all other modules. From order management through production, the user must have complete access to strong WMS functionality.” Some of the metrics to assess the Infrastructure 33 productivity and accuracy achieved through an effective integrated WMS include order fi ll rates, line item fi ll rates, carrier performance, and employee performance. Product specifi c multiple storage types are not a common feature found in all WMS packages. Examples for usage would be refrigerated versus dry stock, allergens (peanuts), or organics. This feature helps to separate food types to ensure no cross contamination. Product and locations are both given storage types and they must match for electronic put away or movement. Many ERP companies claim to have WMS. In actuality it is often a third party bolt-on solution or is an extra module that manufacturers and distributors have to pay for incrementally at the time of purchase. Buyer beware! Many enterprise systems offer WMS, but few have their own WMS functionality fully integrated and enabled out of the box without additional modules. For an optimized organization from start to fi nish, integration is required; a lean operation means fully integrated functionality and this must include WMS. May 07 Businessexcellence Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based manufacturing marketing fi rm TR Cutler, Inc: www.trcutlerinc.com. Distinguishable characteristics of effective integrated WMS technologies: Fully barcode and RF enabled Private or public Directed put away and picking Various pick methods Employee labor optimization Multi-level license plating Yard management Transportation module Fill the truck capabilities from o/e Customer specifi c documentation Storage types for organics, perishable items, and cross contamination Complete lot and serial tracking from raw material through production and shipment to end use customer

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