In much the same way that pilots want ceiling and visibility unlimited (CAVU), companies need as much visibility as possible into their warehouse and inventory to ensure peak performance within their global post-sales supply chain. After all, greater visibility means you can closely manage inventory, transportation costs and total cost of ownership while meeting strict SLAs with your customers.
The good news is that your company no longer has to wonder how to access the actionable data you need to make informed decisions. TracStar, a robust warehouse management system technology developed by Flash Global, is here to show supply chain professionals what a well-run warehouse can do for their companies. What’s even better, you don’t have to deal with it. The data you need is housed in FlashTrac, our enterprise service supply chain platform. FlashTrac is your single source for inventory management, order management and service logistics nirvana.
Need more visibility in your service supply chain? Let’s talk so we can help you deliver superb customer service after the sale.
Here’s an overview of what TracStar, a state-of-the-art warehouse management system custom built for the service supply chain, makes possible:
Want to find out how TracStar creates lower dock-to-stock ratios; faster, more accurate picks; and more precise shipping metrics? Read on.
In the past, warehouse workers had to figure out where to place inventory for storage within a warehouse. A customer’s parts and products might be mixed with those of other customers. This made it hard to maintain accurate inventory for all customers and slowed the picking process when filling orders.
TracStar software directs team members where to put items (directed putaways), using a variety of metrics — such as item size, picking needs and customer. A forklift operator isn’t left trying to figure out where to place products for storage.
Using TracStar, it’s easier to segregate warehouse inventory by customer, lower dock-to-stock times, and maximize available space. Such bin maintenance makes picking and inventory counts more efficient and accurate, which helps lower labor and stocking costs.
Traditionally a number of decisions were required of warehouse employees. To fulfill an order, they might get a suggested bin, find that the correct product wasn’t in that location, and have to search. Inefficiency reigned as pickers worked one order at a time, sometimes traveling to the far corners of the warehouse three times for three different orders.
TracStar significantly improves picking efficiency and accuracy in a variety of ways.
Thanks to automated bin maintenance and directed putaway, when it comes time to pick, the computer uses the picker’s current location to direct them to the closest bin that contains the part or product they need. And… the product is there.
Now, a picker can work multiple orders simultaneously. Or, a large order that includes 1,000 pieces can be assigned to multiple pickers, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to successfully fill the order.
Even better, visibility into the workload means we can tell where each worker is in the process of picking an order, whether they might need help with a rush job, and how many picks they have left.
Such transparency means it’s easy to direct workers where their help is needed most. If supervisors find that no one is available to handle a rush order, they can find someone else or shuffle priorities to make someone available. It’s easier to find pickers, too, because their supervisor can see where employees are in the warehouse based on their picking path and how many picks they have left.
All this means improved SLAs for Flash Global customers.
Prior to the TracStar warehouse management system, parts and products tracked at the serial level required two barcodes be scanned, one for the part number and another for the serial number. For bulk products, that meant that workers had to scan 20 items in one box 20 times.
Another problem: When you checked inventory online, you didn’t know if you had 5 parts in 10 bins or 10 parts in 5 bins.
Now, the TracStar system has its own set of unique barcodes (called FLPNs) that combine both the part number and serial number. Our workers scan one barcode that contains all the information we need instead of scanning two. For bulk products, the FLNP gets scanned once and the team member inputs the quantity (20 in the example above) and they’re done.
Inventory numbers are more useful because the FLPNs now reveal the total quantity of a part in the warehouse and the quantity per bin.
Before TracStar, packing workers didn’t always know if they were shipping the right product, so they couldn’t audit an order at the packing station. They couldn’t tell if there were overpacks (the boxes that have smaller items in them) or what was in an overpack. Packers had to measure and weigh the shippable containers, and record those weights and dimensions, a manual process that was not immune from human error.
With TracStar in place, there’s visibility throughout the picking and packing process so that errors are identified before they reach the customer. Now, a picker drops off product at a true pack station.
From there, a product’s barcodes work in tandem with the Cubiscan packing station to enable the packer to capture and audit all the products and details for an order. TracStar creates a carton ID for every shippable container. The carton ID is a barcode that tells the system what’s in the box, whether it is an overpack or a single product, and the FLPNs assigned to it.
Cubiscan captures the weights and dimensions in an automated process that ensures accurate freight charges.
TracStar also integrates with freight carriers to transfer all the weights and dimensions directly into their system so that a shipping label can be printed. This eliminates yet another chance for human error to enter the process.
The benefits of greater accuracy and visibility in shipping are numerous for the parts service supply chain. First, greater precision in freight measurements means companies are able to fully understand which customers cost the most in freight bills, so charges can be adjusted as needed.
More exact weight and dimensions also prove critical for international shipments since trade compliance rules and regulations require shippers to produce accurate weights and dims. Items can get delayed in customs — sometimes weeks or even months — if the metrics are inaccurate or the packaging paperwork is missing those metrics.
You don’t want to indicate a product has shipped if it hasn’t left the warehouse. Yet many warehouses send an email to the customer when the air waybill (a.k.a. ship label) prints. But the package is still sitting on the dock.
TracStar uses ship confirm instead. This means that your customers get an email notification when our worker scans barcoded packages on the delivery truck, so you know the package has actually left the warehouse.
If you’d like to learn more about this top-of-the-line warehouse management system created for the post-sales supply chain and what a well-run warehouse can do for you, let’s talk.