Warehouse & Distribution
Growth Creates the Need for Business Transformation
As companies grow in size and business requirements change, there comes a time when they need to evaluate their current processes and technology choices so that they can smoothly scale their production levels. We know from our experience working in the industry that the need to operate a business in real-time has become critical. In the case of warehousing and distribution, this often means implementing new Warehouse Control Systems WCS or upgrading existing ones. These decisions are not to be taken lightly and involve a high degree of knowledge and experience to execute smoothly.
We Understand This
Our project approach towards WCS implementations involves continuous communication between your stakeholders and our implementation team to ensure the solution provided is one that’s right for your current situation. Our engineers have extensive experience tackling real-time projects. For over 15 years, Brock has provided WCS systems that deliver total integration handling the sorting, picking, and shipping of warehousing distribution facilities.
What Makes Us Different?
Unlike many sortation providers who insist that you make exclusive use of their equipment and approach, Brock Solutions, with its SmartSuite WCS software, accommodates all leading sortation equipment and adapts to your unique process requirements. This makes SmartSuite WCS the preferred solution for your retrofit or new system installations. SmartSuite WCS offers faster project implementation ‘ our table-driven design ensures that most projects require only configuration, not extensive custom software development. Our solution ensures that your warehouse facility can perform at peak efficiency by:
- Simulating proof of concept processes and rates before implementation
- Providing accurate item visibility from start to finish in the sortation process
- Interfacing with the most popular warehousing management systems( WMS)
- Using Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) to free up floor space
- Providing powerful Dashboards, Reports, and Search functionality for data analysis
- Implementing Pick/Put to Light Systems that remove human errors
This leads to:
- A reduction in cost by automating labour-intensive processes
- Improving staff productivity
- Increased inventory traceability
- Quicker response times to system faults or issues
High-Speed Conveyor Sortation
Proven, Accurate Sortation Software
Our Software Interfaces with machine-level controls and external devices made by leading Warehousing and Distribution manufacturers. Our system has a variety of benefits including:
- Reduced Downtime– SmartSort runs in a virtual environment hosted on multiple servers so that it can provide 100% uptime and simplify hardware requirements.
- Ease of Use– Sort Plans can be automatically downloaded from host systems and activated on sorters in real-time. Through an intuitive web-based user interface an operator can easily assign items to specific physical chutes on the fly, for waves or batches.
- Optimized Performance– Our software is written in the latest programming languages to provide 100% accuracy in sortation logic.
- Increased Visibility– A full range of reporting and search functionality enables a higher understanding of overall system performance.
- Increased Throughput– SmartSort is built to optimize its high-speed sortation capabilities resulting in product moving quicker through facilities.
SmartSort acquires property information on items using bar codes and database lookups. SmartSort also interfaces with a wide variety of external devices, such as:
- Moving beam laser scanners
- Invisible ink systems
- Data entry terminals
- Hand-held laser guns or wands
- RF tags
- Host computers
- Vision scanning systems
- In-line scales
- Photoelectric eyes
SmartSort can determine the sort destination of an item based off a combination of many property-based selection criteria including:
· Sales event
· Stop sequence
· Order type
· Rush order
· Barcode field
· ZIP or Postal Code
· Cubic dimension
· Passenger class
Simulation Modeling for Warehousing and Distribution
Our experience ranges from moving items on Cross Belt Sorters to simulating smaller equipment motion around the facility. The results are fully visualized by real-time 3-D representations as well as data sheets depicting transactions and statistics through the system. These are gathered by running multiple scenarios to account random variations in the model. Simulation leads to many benefits including:
- Mitigating potential pitfalls of system design
- Reducing commissioning costs
- Reducing project delays
- Highlighting bottlenecks and process inefficiencies
Our proven methodology guarantees the success of all our projects. This includes the following procedure:
- Kick-off meeting
- Scope Specifics Documented
- Model Development
- Verification and Validation Meeting
- Experimentation and Analysis
- Final Presentation, Project Reports, and Training
Automated Warehouse/Distribution Data Collection/Reporting
Reporting and historical data logging
Our software gives complete visibility into any automated system. Our dashboard, reports, and search functionality allows you to analyze key points in the system that affect productivity and the bottom line. There are many standard reports and custom functionality can be written to reflect key data points in a system. We will work with you to make sure the data is correct, and aligns with your specific process needs.
Our dashboarding functionality gives you up to the minute insight on what is happening in your system. Key performance indicators are displayed through easy to read dials and gauges, which allows operators to quickly determine overall system performance. This is essential in order for corrective action to be taken during a shift rather than after the fact.
Our advanced searches allow you to perform simple searches based off barcodes and tracking numbers or build complex queries based off any item properties. The results are quickly viewable through a browser window exportable to a more convenient format for further data manipulation.
Our web-based system serves up reports in the formats that you are familiar with including:
- Excel (Data Only)
They are viewable in a web browser and able to be saved offline for later use. In order to view them, it is necessary to have a computer on the network, along with a SmartSuite WCS account.
Running reports manually is essential if you want to get specific ranges of data over the period of a shift, but what if you want to see things from a higher level so that you can look at trending information? We have implemented automatic reporting functionality that generates a set of reports in the background and sends them by email to various levels of authority throughout your company. This is configurable and puts the data where it needs to be, in the hands of key decision makers.
Warehouse Management Systems Integration
What Does This Mean?
In a nutshell, this means that there is a high level of integration between your inventory management/ ERP systems and the rest of the automation systems on the plant floor. We have the ability to retrieve sort plans, exchange messages, and communicate effectively with other systems in the facility. SmartConnect has experience interfacing to the following WMS systems:
- Manhattan Associates’ WMS
- TECSYS WMS
Do you use a different WMS System?
Our solutions are made with flexibility in mind so that interfacing with a new WMS is simple. Since host interfaces vary amongst WMS vendors, SmartSort supports both file and discrete messaging. The file interface is typically accomplished via network drive mapping or FTP while discrete messaging typically is accomplished via standard TCP/IP.
Automated Warehouse and Distribution Order Fulfillment
Automatic Trailer Manifesting
The tracking of product that is en route to a new facility or store is important for maintaining inventory and payment collection. Our automatic trailer manifesting functionality makes this easy. The sequencing of every tote on the shipping conveyor for each loading dock is automatically tracked so that only the first and last tote for each trailer load needs to be scanned. A manifest for each completed trailer load is automatically created and printed, minimizing downtime in the loading process. In manual systems where 2 people work each loading dock (1 to scan, 1 to load), staff quantity can be reduced to 1 person per dock.
Inaccuracies in the reporting of item weights and dimensions represent lost revenue to logistics operations. Brock is experienced with helping clients rectify this problem, having designed, developed, and implemented stand-alone and in-line automated Revenue Verification Units/System (RVS) for national rollouts. Our revenue verification system scans, weighs, and dimensions items automatically to collect barcode, weight, and dimension data respectively. This data can be sent to the WMS or ERP system where billing and accounting information is processed.
The management of Batching, Waves, and other techniques can be handled with ease. The system has the ability to support:
- Bill of Lading Creation
- Sort Plan Management
- Cross Dock Operations
- Trailer Closeout
- Special Totes
- Damaged Barcode Item Handling
Brock Solutions' Automated Controls for ASRS Systems
- Automatic and Manual Pallet Retrieval
- Storage Algorithm Configuration
- Diagnostics and Status Monitoring
- Web Browser Accessible
- Aisle Capacity and Status
- Crane Statistics
- Crane Algorithm Snapshot
- Invalid Stored Materials
- Staging Area Status
- Pallet Search
- Material Information Search
- ASRS Action Search
- Activity Log Search
- Audit Log Search
- Message Log Search
Warehouse/Distribution Picking and Sortation System Solutions
Pick-to-light systems allow operators to fill specific customer orders in an efficient manner. The following is an example of a pick-n-pack process:
- Bins with bulk stock of items are placed in specific “Zones”.
- A shipping carton used to pack a customer purchase order is placed on packing lane in a central location.
- An operator scans the barcode on the Shipping Carton.
- The bulk stock bins light up with a corresponding order quantity.
- The operator grabs the required quantity from the stock bins and confirms the transaction.
- The operator places the items into the Shipping Carton.
- After all the lights are addressed from the first zone, the Shipping Carton moves to the next zone.
- A closeout confirmation procedure is performed at the end of the picking lane.
- The shipping carton is placed on larger sorter for sortation to its final destination.
Put-to-Light systems allow operators to fill customer orders efficiently by the way of light buttons and numbered displays. The following is an example of the Put-to-Light process:
- Shipping cartons are set up in multiple locations for customer purchase orders.
- A bulk inventory item is brought to a central picking lane.
- Using mobile technologies, operators are able to scan the barcode of the bulk inventory item.
- Lights will turn on by each shipping carton that requires the inventory item and quantities will be displayed.
- The operator fills the shipping carton with the items from the bulk inventory container and confirms the transaction.
- Once the operator addresses all lights, a new bulk inventory item is brought to the central picking lane.
- This process continues until all items have been packed in the shipping cartons.
- Shipping cartons are placed on larger sorter for sortation.
For larger items that have been presorted and need a finer sort at the end of a chute, light systems may be used to direct operators to semi-automate a manual sort process. The following is an example of the Sort-to-Light process:
- Shipping Containers are set up at the end of a chute and assigned items through a sort plan.
- An item is sorted on a shoe sorter, cross-belt sorter, etc. to a specific chute.
- The operator is able to scan the item barcode with an RF mobile device.
- The light will illuminate above the shipping container where it is to be sorted. (The application on the mobile hand scanner can also reveal other important details about the item for validation purposes.)
- The operator puts the item into the correct shipping container and repeats the process.
- Allows operations to better utilize staff by enabling employees to handle multiple processes throughout the facility
- Minimizes human error in the picking/sorting process
- The operator is able to scan the item barcode with an RF mobile device.
- Increases speed of manual sort process
Warehousing and Distribution Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs)
System Overview & Equipment Screens
The HMI is extremely easy to navigate. Given the correct permissions, operators are able to interact with various parts of the system and perform functions that directly affect processes in the distribution facility. Each piece of critical equipment in the system will be shown in detail through the HMI, reflecting statuses given by the controls layer. This can include statistics, faults, and override capabilities.
Watchdog Communication Status
Overall health of the WCS solution is an important aspect to monitor. Key communications channels are constantly polled by software to ensure that both the system is operating smoothly and the equipment is actively reflecting its current state.
- SmartSuite WCS has diagnostics/alarms that:
- Allows viewing of selected fault sites through fixes or tilt/pan/zoom cameras
- Maintains logs of current and historical alarms
- Has pop-up dialog boxes to quickly identify system faults (reducing time required to identify and correct problems)
- Corrective actions to system faults can be provided on screen.