This post is the first in a series aimed at outlining the set up procedure for Stocker WMS. The series will describe the order in which you should enter your data and the points at which you should perform backups. It is recommended you perform three backups during the setup process. These three backups will allow you to return to the three most important stages of the setup procedure should you lose your data, realise you have forgotten something, or even change your mind while setting up the Warehouse Management System.
Information should be entered in a precise sequence when preparing Stocker for use. For example, products require their preferred storage areas recorded against them. Therefore, before you can complete a product record you must first enter warehouse storage locations. Also, in the case of the Third Party warehouse version of Stocker, a product record must possess an owning customer. In this case, you must also enter your customer records before you can enter your products. This first post concentrates on creating a view of your physical ware house structure within Stocker.
Create A Plan Of Your Warehouse
Before you can start using Stocker you must create a view or map which represents the physical layout of your warehouse. Within Stocker a warehouse consists of the following elements.
- A warehouse site
- Containing at least one physical warehouse
- Containing at least one zone
- Containing at least one subarea
- Containing warehouse locations, comprised of…
- Backup locations and…
- Picking locations – optional
This is usually used to define the geographical location of a warehouse. It is a single record consisting of an 8 character code and description. When you log into Stocker you log into a site and everything you do is performed within that site.
A warehouse is created at, or within, a warehouse site and usually represents a physical building. If your warehouse complex consists of more than one building you can represent each building as an individual warehouse. As for warehouse sites, a warehouse is a single record consisting of an 8 character code and description. When you log into Stocker, you not only log into a site but also a specific warehouse. Everything you do is performed within the site and warehouse your are logged into.
Zones are used to subdivide warehouses into smaller chunks of space. Each warehouse must have at least 1 zone. As for warehouse sites and warehouses, a zone is a single record consisting of a code and description. For zones the code is a single character. Therefore you can usually have up to 36 zones in a warehouse (A – Z, 0 – 9).
Dividing a warehouse into zones helps provide structure and organization. It also helps reduce the amount of work Stocker has to do when searching for vacant locations to store pallets. You will see later, each product is given a maximum of 3 preferred storage zones. When Stocker searches for a vacant location to store a product it only searches the preferred zone(s) not the complete warehouse.
Zones can be further subdivided into subareas with each zone having at least one subarea. Again. subareas are a single record consisting of a code and description. The code is 4 characters with the first character defining the owning zone i.e. the zone in which the subarea resides.
Subareas provide another layer of structure and organization. They also help further reduce the amount of work Stocker has to do when searching for vacant locations to store pallets. Each product is not only given preferred storage zones but also preferred storage subareas. When Stocker searches for a vacant location to store the product it first searches the preferred subareas. If Stocker can’t find a suitable vacant location within the preferred subareas it moves on to search the larger preferred zone(s).
It is within the subareas that you create the individual storage locations. The number of pallets (drums, kegs, stillages, etc) a location can hold is defined by providing its width, depth and height. A location 1 wide, 1 deep and 1 high can only hold a single pallet. A location 2 wide by 10 deep by 5 high could define a block stack of 100 pallets.
Locations are divided into two basic categories, backup locations and picking locations.
Backup locations make up the main bulk store of the warehouse. They can be configured to define standard pallet racking, block stacking, mobile racking, live racking, narrow aisle picking and many other types of location. Note you can easily create large numbers of locations using the Create Locations By Range action. This action uses the User Code LOCCODE to create a sequence of warehouse locations with similar characteristics in a single action.
Some of the entries on the location record interact directly with similar entries on a product record. These entries are compared to determine if a product can be stored in a location. For example:
- The location level is tested against the maximum level given to a product.
- Product mixing is tested. A product can only be stored in a location if product mixing is allowed for both product and location.
- Sell by (use by, BBE) mixing is tested. A product can only be stored in a location if sell by mixing is allowed for both product and location.
Therefore, if you allow mixing in a location but you find product will not be placed in a particular location when expected, check the corresponding mixing on the product record is also set.
These are optional and only required if you operate a part pallet picking operation. Picking locations are usually on ground level with a capacity of a single pallet. Each picking location is associated with a product and is dedicated to that product. Any part pallet picks are taken from this dedicated picking face. Replenishments of the pick face are automatically created by Stocker as the stock becomes depleted to a specified minimum quantity.
As for Backup Locations you can easily create large numbers of locations using the action Create Locations By Range .
Creating a warehouse in Stocker is the single most time consuming process. The more planning you do the quicker the process will be and there’ll be less chance of errors or oversights.
- Before you start plan your warehouse on paper first.
- Decide how many zones and subareas you’ll require. Although, essentially, there is no limit, remember you only need 1 zone containing 1 subarea.
- Decide on a location numbering (coding) scheme that will best reference as many of your locations as possible.
- For picking operations remember picking faces are usually at ground level. For pallet racking, ensure the numbering scheme suitably references backup locations placed above picking locations.
- If you employ narrow aisle picking with reach trucks you will probably want to pick right-left down the aisle, not by pick location number. Work out the picking sequence you want and apply picking sequence numbers to your locations
- Understand how to use the action Create Locations By Range. This will greatly speed up the process.
- Understand how the User Code LOCCODE maps onto location codes when creating locations by range.
With sufficient planning it is quite possible to create a decent sized warehouse in a single day, or less. When finished take a backup of your database and keep it safe. The physical warehouse structure is the least changeable component of the whole Warehouse Management System. If disaster ever strikes you can always return to a copy of your empty warehouse.