VHA supplies mobile phones and accessories to retail businesses across the United States. They are currently operating out of four warehouse locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Diamond Bar and Houston.
VHA has been operating since 2001 and has enjoyed huge growth in the last few years. They were searching for a WMS that could bring their four warehouses in line, using the Houston warehouse as the template, and integrate to their NetSuite ERP.
Each warehouse has an area where customers can come and collect orders raised in advance. This business is referred to as Will Call inside VHA and as a middle-ground between the warehouse and a shopfront, it required the development of additional real-time interfaces in WAERlinx. Will Call makes up a small but significant proportion of the processed orders, however, most are sent out via a carrier.
This was the first project involving Waer partner and NetSuite Solution Provider, Concentrus and has provided a platform for partnership in the US, with Concentrus offering local time-zone support for US based WAERlinx users.
In addition to the standard WAERlinx solution, additional unique developments for the project included:
“It was WAERlinx’ flexibility and the productivity metrics developed for us that made VHA decide that this was the absolute best product for the project. We look forward to a long and strong relationship with Waer Systems.” Darryl Wooten, Director of Operations, VHA.
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There is often a great deal of reluctance about moving from a DIY (do-it-yourself) warehouse management system (WMS) to an industry-leading model. Companies with a DIY WMS may be understandably wary of implementing a new system – as the saying goes, “if it aint broke….” but there are clear and measurable advantages to taking that leap.
The three most common barriers to making the switch
“I know my WMS requires a lot of IT time to maintain and it may not always be up-to-date, but it has grown and been adapted as our business has expanded and it works.”
A 21st century WMS is highly configurable to specific customer needs, market demands and regulatory requirements. Every company is different and a really good WMS developer will understand which elements of your business processes can’t, or needn’t be changed, and those which can – and should.
Good warehouse management software will have been built on decades of experience and hundreds of implementations in receiving, put-away/flow-through, inventory management, order processing, replenishment, picking, packing, loading and shipping.
It should be able to manage the most highly regulated and complex distribution environments world-wide and be easily configurable to meet current demands, yet flexible enough to adapt to future requirements.
Personalised workflows should be standard, enabling the WMS to meet your company’s specific needs. A good WMS developer will work with you to understand the years you’ve spent developing and tweaking your business processes to your competitive advantage.
“Our ERP System already has a WMS that can support our business needs.”
Many ERP systems have their own bolt-on WMS and while this type of system may be fine for a single warehouse with basic processes, the wheels can come off when things start to get more complex.
A best-of-breed model should easily integrate with your ERP system, sales channels and distribution networks and should have the capacity to be configured to the level of detail needed to grow with your business.
“I have a team and system built around maintaining and upgrading our WMS. It will be too costly to implement a new system and re-train everyone.”
The ease of using a leading WMS will reduce your IT staff time, including the time spent on upgrades. While a DIY WMS may require hours of additional coding when an upgrade is installed, a leading WMS will have been designed to be upgraded quickly and painlessly and with minimal disruption. Additionally, the inner workings of DIY systems are often tied up in a few, critical resources in IT, leaving many companies very vulnerable should these resources ever leave.
With a best-of-breed WMS, you get the backing of a software provider that is dedicated to making the best product in the market.
It may also be costing you more to keep an obsolete WMS that requires you to maintain older versions of related infrastructure such as databases and operating systems. With a WMS that can integrate with these other systems, the entire warehouse operation can become more efficient almost overnight.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While your DIY WMS system can serve the needs of your company today, flexibility, efficiency, scalability and adaptability are essential business requirements in our new economy and are to be overlooked at your peril.
You can keep tweaking your DIY WMS as your company grows and expands into new markets but every inefficiency will mount up and cost you in the long-run.
A highly configurable, future-proof WMS will save you money and time, and keep you ahead of the competition.
WAERlinx uses barcodes to record receipted goods into specific stock locations, , making putaway quick and simple.
It also makes retrieving them when they are needed, a doddle, as staff can locate them instantly at a later date for picking and despatch.
WAERlinx customers use many and varied tracking methods, most commonly serial and batch numbers. With WAERlinx these can be recorded at the point of receipt or at the point of picking, against a specific sales order.
This enables warehouse staff to quickly pick products in specified quantities from the most suitable location in the warehouse e.g. where there is the exact quantity required in a specific single bin, and these can be scanned individually or in bulk.
All stock quantities are visible in real time in WAERlinx and NetSuite giving the whole business an accurate picture of the business at any time.
The ways builders buy their building materials is about to change… BUILT/ is an exciting new business venture (in partnership with a leading industry player) that will pioneer significant changes in the building materials industry. Currently, the building supplies sector for trade has a very traditional, relationship-based approach to commerce, with pricing for building supplies negotiated from customer to customer.
Those same customers, while very familiar with today’s on-demand economy in their private lives, are not seeing it reflected in their business life. While the three issues of range, price and proximity are as important as ever, there is also a craving for consistency and transparency, which the traditional model cannot easily deliver against.
BUILT/ will bring the building supplies industry in line with other, forward-thinking retail sectors, providing customers with a choice of purchasing methods for the building materials they need, both online and off-line.
In short, customers will have the option to buy online for collection at a dedicated place and time, or arrange delivery to an address or a locker. They can also walk in and make their purchase at their local warehouse shop-front, or use the quick and convenient drive thru for orders made online. Such a wide, and easy to use range of choices will cement BUILT/ as the number one choice for the professional trade.
The complex requirements of this project called for an extremely robust and forward-thinking ERP and WMS combination. The team at BUILT/ considered several options before settling on the combination of NetSuite with WAERlinx; clear winners in terms of their functionality and flexibility.
A typical BUILT/ customer will be a process tradesperson or general builder. They will place an order for building materials in advance and book a time slot to collect them. If they have added their vehicle registration number during the ordering process (where prompted) their licence plate will be registered upon arrival and signs will direct them to the BUILT/ Drive Thru, where BUILT/ operatives will be ready at assigned collection points to load the different materials being purchased. Each site will be divided into a number of zones based on the type of material being stored.
Additionally, BUILT/ will ship building materials to customers at their chosen delivery address, or to collection lockers using their own vehicle fleet as couriers. The WAERpod proof of delivery app will be used with drivers’ iPhones to record delivery, keep customers informed of their order status and plan efficient routes, all of which will be tracked and recorded back to NetSuite.
“We were really impressed with the flexibility of WAERlinx and the experience and knowledge within their development team. We are extremely confident that we have made the right choice and that WAERlinx will be instrumental in making this project a huge success.”
Nick Thomas, BUILT/ CEO
BUILT/ has a complex and challenging set of requirements, however, WAERlinx’s built-in flexibility makes it easy to modify to the solution in order to tailor it to the needs of the project, some of which are outlined here:
The project is scheduled to go live in August 2017 and will challenge traditional thinking in this market. We are very excited to be working with BUILT/ on this brand new proof of concept.
With its incremental scanning functionality, using just a smartphone as a bar code scanner, WAERlinx WMS for NetSuite can validate each item picked for either sales orders or receipted into stock against purchase orders.
Scanning the product code quickly and automatically records and tracks each individual item on a job list. You can also print a dispatch note and detailed carton label at the point of completion using batch number, serial number, use-by date or any other unique reference code.
These are automatically recorded, eliminating picking errors, and the data recorded in NetSuite in real time.
WAERlinx significantly improves the receipt, picking and dispatch of orders by removing the paper element of warehouse processes. Using bar code labelling and smartphones with real-time integration into NetSuite provides 100% stock accuracy.
Profitability and performance are improved by efficient pick-management, ensuring warehouse staff are working smarter, not harder.
NetSuite implementation partner NoBlue introduced Sandpiper Books to WAER to get their warehouse operation in better shape and running more efficiently.
Sandpiper Books is a UK based company selling discounted and newly published books through its monthly catalogue and website.
The company purchases end of line and excess stock from publishers and wholesalers, of which there are around 700–800, and sells them, primarily through the catalogue, which is published on a monthly basis and distributed to 125,000 subscribers.
At any one time Sandpiper has around 8,500 titles in the warehouse, rising to 14,500 at peak times. Of these, approximately 2,500 are active in the catalogue/website.
The peaks occur on a monthly basis when the catalogue is published, with the major peak being at Christmas when 4,000 orders/day are handled. A typical order will be for 3–4 books.
The company needed a new warehouse management system to work in partnership with their ERP – NetSuite – and following a detailed selection process, chose WAERlinx.
Issues particular to Sandpiper that they needed WAERlinx to address were to:
The Waer team has developed solutions for these niche requirements and the project is ongoing with a scheduled go-live set for July 2017.
At Waer, our goal is to reach a point where all releases are customer-driven. And as part of this, we are interviewing WAERlinx users and asking what they would change if they were in charge.
The feedback so far has been invaluable, and has driven a very exciting development…
I’m pleased to announce that the WAERlinx home screen is getting a complete overhaul.
The new Control Center will give an instant snapshot of all Open, In Progress and Completed work in the warehouse, and simultaneously provide one-click access to the areas of WAERlinx most frequently used by warehouse supervisors.
Watch this space for more teaser screenshots which we’ll release in advance of the SuiteWorld 17 expo. (we’re at booth #1332, come and say hello.)
To find out more, please get in touch. We’re keeping this fairly quiet just for now but we’ll keep you posted on developments so watch this space…
HSNF has two warehouses located in North London. Most of their sales orders are placed via web portals including Amazon, Groupon, eBay and their own site, www.justbeauty.co.uk,.
NetSuite was installed at HSNF in 2014, and a paper-based system was used in the warehouse. There was, however, a lack of accurate inventory visibility with this system, and limited functionality to record pick rates or errors.
The WAERlinx solution
A detailed proposal for integrating WAERlinx with NetSuite was submitted in the first quarter of 2016 and implemented in September. As with all WAERlinx installations, the baseline product was configured to meet the exact needs of the business:
Assembly handling was a key development in this project. Now the HSNF team can quickly pick hundreds of base kits and put them away to stock. When a sales order is received, the operator picks the base kit and then picks the variable item – such as nail colour – separately, saving a huge amount of time.
Integration to Royal Mail and Yodel using Net Despatch: this includes international and Channel Islands shipments, and the packer is able to change the shipping method at the packing stage if required.
The average number of order lines is typically 1.8 and there is a high degree of commonality in the products. When the new feature, View High-Demand SKUs is clicked, a new view is presented, which displays SKUs in order of the number of unfulfilled lines that currently have unassigned pick tasks. Each line can be selected and the user can release multiple orders of identical SKUs to the operator for picking.
SKU images: this allows for 100s of orders to be released for picking extremely quickly and substantially minimises the volumes of repeated pick visits to a single bin.
Product images are displayed throughout WAERlinx, including the handhelds, resulting in far fewer queries or mistakes. This value-added feature has become essential for visible validations of SKU selection for packing.
As orders are dropped at the packing bay by the picking operator, a packing note is downloaded as a PDF for printing, initiating the pack process. Packing instructions can then be displayed if required.
The operator scans the packing note and each SKU code as it is packed into the carton. Once all SKUs are packed and despatched, the carrier booking continues automatically and the shipper’s label is printed.
HSNF’s tailored WAERlinx solution gives pickers the choice of Single picking – sequential picking with no grouping, or Wave picking – grouping of order pick tasks where common SKUs are picked individually.
If inventory exists elsewhere in the warehouse, the operator is presented with a View Alternate Location button. This is available during putaway, picking and inventory management, and assists the operator if they cannot physically reach a location or wish to reorganise the inventory in the warehouse.
WAERlinx’ complete integration with NetSuite means that HSNF now has vastly improved visibility of the warehouse operation. Errors have been virtually eliminated and the work-rate has seen a dramatic rise.
UK Home Shopping (UKHS) Ltd is an online retailer based in Nottinghamshire, selling power and hand tools, workshop and automotive tools, generators and electrical items. http://www.ukhs.tv/
Already using NetSuite, the company wanted an integrated warehouse management system (WMS) in order to better support current and future operations.
UKHS has two warehouses, both located in Nottinghamshire.
The first is the main distribution centre, consisting of pallet racks and shelves for pick faces, with dedicated areas for receiving, packing and despatching.
The second, referred to as the service warehouse, is a physically separate warehouse located within the same site as the main warehouse. It serves several purposes:
In both warehouses, the existing paper-based system meant there were issues concerning a lack of inventory visibility and no existing pick-walk sequences, resulting in inefficient operations and limited customer return functionality.
The WAERlinx solution
A number of small adjustments were made to the baseline WAERlinx solution:
UK Home Shopping ships to Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man so these have been incorporated into the project.
Waer provided carrier integration with Royal Mail and Yodel via Net Despatch and for pallet handling, direct integration with TNT.
The transition from paper to handhelds has resulted in huge improvements to pick accuracy and time taken for picking.
A robust inventory-counting solution now allows UK Home Shopping to action regular inventory counts without disruption, rather than shutting the business down for an entire weekend in order to carry out the task.
“Since the implementation of WAERlinx our warehouse staffing levels have reduced by three full time employees.” Paul Strickland, UK Home Shopping Warehouse Manager.