Marketing- and sales-orientated companies are focusing on their primary business function to improve turnover and are, therefore, aiming to outsource warehousing solutions from warehousing specialist companies, industry-focused logistics services group RTT GM Denis Hugo tells Engineering News.
“Over the last four years, RTT has branched out extensively into warehousing and dis- tribution to improve its clients’ supply chains. Along with the physical operational elements of warehousing and distribution, information technology (IT) has played an increasingly important role in the development of effective warehousing and distribution solutions,” he says.
Hugo notes that the warehousing and distribution industry is no longer concerned with merely the movement of physical goods, but also the supply chain data associated with warehousing, such as dispatch and order data. Hence, it is important for companies in the industry to provide an “intelligent” information platform to subsequently provide a value-added service for customers.
“RTT is moving along the intelligent- technology supply chain path to further enhance the logistics service offerings that the company currently provides for its customers,” he adds, noting that RTT does not provide a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather customises solutions to meet the requirements of a company.
Hugo says the company’s technology area comprises more than 60 skilled logistics individuals, enabling RTT to provide greater flexibility in designing warehousing solutions for companies at a faster rate.
RTT chief information officer Hemal Kalianji notes that the largest cost currently associated with warehousing is that of holding stock over extended periods and reverse logistics, adding that this contributes to the inefficiencies within a supply chain.
“Visible, improved inventory solutions, such as RTT’s intelligent warehousing solution, known as Intelligent Warehousing, provide companies with the best warehousing strategy, which requires more effective storage space and helps reduce the costs associated with holding stock.
“When considering warehousing and storage, companies are either considered to be expensive landlords with high warehouse activity which just store goods or intelligent warehousing supply chain solutions providers,” he says.
Kalianji notes that the most important facet of intelligent warehousing is employees’ intelligence, skills and ability to find creative logistic solutions throughout the supply chain. “Warehousing is not only about the cost of storing, picking and packing things – it is also about which products are being effectively stored, identifying which products move the fastest and whether all the orders are delivered within a given day. Companies need passionate individuals to drive this,” he adds.
New technologies, such as wireless RF handheld multidimensional barcode scanners with scalable, optimal warehouse applications, have significantly changed the warehousing industry process landscape. However, new technologies cannot manage warehousing systems in isolation, Kalianji says.
“New technology and best practice pro- cesses and systems drive people and warehousing processes,” he notes, adding, however, that the latest technologies and systems in isolation cannot prevent underskilled individuals from making mistakes such as picking or dispatching the incorrect item.
One of the major reasons why warehouses fail is that they do not implement a scalable warehouse management solution that suits a business’s particular model and related business processes. Many of these systems take several years to implement, as there are a number of system customisations required and there is a shortage of skilled logistics systems personnel to do so, says Kalianji.
However, RTT says it implements these processes in weeks, as Intelligent Warehousing is a flexible and intelligent solution, which is designed to fit a particular businesses warehousing model and related business processes.
RTT highlights that the solution improves inventory demand and holding, inventory picking and end-to-end supply chain visibility, as well as real-time inventory tracking and control.
This fully integrated supply chain solution helps companies improve their bottom line and customer-service levels, owing to accurate end-to-end supply chain visibility, automated workflows and improved inventory, enabling companies to quickly make informed and accurate decisions.
Intelligent Warehousing improves and accelerates inventory-receiving accuracy by identifying inventory and improving a company’s goods-received tracking capabilities measured against inbound orders, advanced shipment notices or inbound container-shipment manifests.
The optimal sales order picking-performance feature configures the best inventory- picking strategies, enabling operators to pick available orders, in real-time, quickly and accurately using hands-free, radio- frequency-directed wireless technology, explains RTT.
Inventory-picking strategies can be designed for product-label, list, cluster or batch picking. These strategies are chosen according to a company’s specific ware- housing requirements.
RTT’s intelligent warehousing solution can also prioritise orders, provide preset alerts when inventory needs to be restocked and is flexible enough to pick unplanned, urgent orders.
The focused quality assurance on the outbound packing feature supports user-configurable outbound packing processes such as automated system-directed or -assisted packing. The order packing parameters can be improved using methods of either pick-to-tote or cartonisation.
The integrated order shipping feature integrates with RTT’s transport management system or any other enterprise resource- planning system, which the company says allows for complete visibility of the supply chain and improves a company’s outbound network system.
RTT’s Intelligent Warehousing solution offers companies a serialised tracking system based on item or inventory ageing, production/batch lot or expiry date. The company’s inventory algorithms help simplify the supply chain process by ensuring that the best inventory levels are maintained, providing companies with adequate stock control, live visibility and the tracking of inventory, highlights RTT.
The solution also has an event management feature, with real-time workflows, alerts and resolutions. This is made possible by the moni- toring of live transactions and automatically responding to any user-defined exception, challenge or opportunity requiring immediate action. “Real-time alerts are sent to the rele- vant stakeholders across the supply chain, enabling them to take the necessary steps to track, escalate the importance of and resolve issues to solve challenges using a cloud-based warehousing system,” the company explains.
Further, the Advanced Key Performance Management feature measures key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics to improve industry competitiveness and increase company performance, says RTT. The KPIs are improved by including work summaries by warehouse pick zones, on-time and in-full delivery targets, order versus dispatch fill rates, cycle-count accuracy, inven- tory adjustment analysis, inventory turns ratios and outstanding supplier receipts.