If you’re in the business of moving inventory, and the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of each turn is important, then this is the blog for you. Here I write how Warehouse Management & Distribution topics can be solved by Microsoft Dynamics AX.
The current slotting in WM&D is based on Pre-slotting. This means that there is a system to do the slotting/location planning upfront. This works quite good in environments where they have a lot of picking locations, and where it is known what products that should be sold in the next period.
The main processes for doing pre-slotting is:
In std DAX, the slotting is stored in a table called InventItemLocation, that looks like this:
Here we can see that it is possible to add one picking location per item dimension. In WM&D it is possible to have multiple picking locations per item dimension per warehouse. To make this possible, WM&D has created a “shadow” table that mirrors the InventItemLocation:
Then there is a possibility to have multiple planned picking locations per warehouse per item. In WM&D we also have the ability to simulate the slotting into a slotting plan, before activating it, and there is therefore a “plan” table exists (WeeInventItemLocationPlan). Since it is sensible to also track previous locations, an archive table exists (WeeInventItemLocationHistory).
But why am I writing this ? The reason is that I have extended the WM&D slotting with a new concept called Dynamic Slotting. I previously described the benefits for dynamic slotting can be seen here.
Dynamic slotting—managing the physical location of inventory—is critical to workforce’s ability to fill orders quickly, accurately and safely. Dynamic slotting determines the best picking profile for the warehouse and suggests timely, intelligent adjustments as inventory trends change.
Dynamic slotting uses data on each product’s physical characteristics and order frequency to calculate a relative value for each potential slot position within the warehouse facility. The values for all products are aggregated. It then compares millions of slot combinations against user-configured strategies to determine the optimal layout for the warehouse.
As input data changes, such as seasonal ordering trends or new or discontinued products, Dynamic Slotting can incrementally revise its recommendations to keep the warehouse at maximum efficiency without costly overhauls.
Dynamic slotting can also track changing inventory to enable continual improvements. The Dynamic slotting can be used from day one to plan racking requirements and maximize capital investments in costly warehouse infrastructure.
Dynamic slotting automates and manages many critical warehouse slotting components, including:
To implement dynamic slotting in WM&D I needed to extend the algorithms that WM&D are using. The WM&D has therefore been extended with the following functions/tools:
To classify locations, a simple ABC classification PDA form has been created, that makes it simple for the warehouse worker to select which location should be classified as A, B or C.
The user just selects classification, and then starts scanning locations. What should be A, B or C location must be a subjective classification by the warehouse users.
One important aspect we see, is the ability to pick as fast as possible, by minimizing the walking time. We need the ability to pick ascending and descending according to the Aisle. To control this, WM&D will use the sorting criteria on the Aisle Register :
The descending field (that is a std. ax field), will both control the locations sort-code, but also in witch direction the aisle will be picked in a consolidated picking scenario using PDA’s.
If we mark that each rack is an Aisle, then WM&D is able to create a consolidated picking route like this:
If we define that an Aisle is the “space” between the racks, then WM&D is able to create a consolidated picking route like this:
This will save up to 20% in walking distance, because an aisle is picked in a “zig-zag” picking pattern.
To make sure that we don’t get “hot-spots” in the warehouse, the dynamic slotting will try to balance and spread out the “hot”-items through the warehouse. This is done by maintaining an expected pick load (Hot-spot sort-code) per aisle. The algorithms is making sure that as soon as a “hot” item has been slotted to an aisle, the aisle will be sorted/prioritized down at the next dynamic slotting approach. This will evenly balance the pick-load per aisle.
What this program remove current location from the location plan, if the on-hand is zero, and there are no expected receipts. When the items arrive again to the warehouse, the put-away will dynamically find a new location for the item.
But we see that “A”-items gets allocated to “A”-locations automatically. What we also have seen in the live customer environment, is that the picking now takes drastically shorter time. Here is a real life example from a consolidated picking route :
58 pcs has been picked from 9 locations, within 5 minutes. If we estimate around this, it means that with the new Dynamic Slotting it could possible for a single picker to pick from more than 100 locations per hour, and in a full working day this would be 750 locations and, with an average of 4 pcs per location, this could mean more than 3000 pcs per picker per day.
The solution shown here is not a part of standard WM&D, and has therefore been built as a customer customization on top of WM&D.
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