Overcome Distribution Constraints by Optimizing Warehouse Performance with Microsoft Technology
In the realm of distribution and logistics, warehouse centers can often face an array of challenges that hinder their growth and efficiency. From personnel and knowledge constraints to spatial limitations, the journey to success can be riddled with obstacles. However, with the right tools and strategies in place, overcoming these hurdles becomes not only possible but also highly rewarding.
In this blog, we will explore various common distribution and business constraints and provide you with a roadmap to optimize your processes through leveraging Microsoft Technology and cloud-based solutions.
Common Distribution Constraints
We consistently observe various constraints that commonly hold back our clients from their potential growth. These challenges fail into three general areas, which may also be impacting your business:
Personnel constraints in distribution often revolve around human resources and can include issues such as:
● Staffing shortages
● Skill gaps
● High turnover rates
● Training time
● Employee retention efforts
Ensuring that employees have the knowledge and resources necessary for their day-to-day tasks is crucial for successful operation of distribution.
Knowledge constraints go beyond the lack of information: they can encompass factors like:
● Minimal forecasting capabilities
● Limited supply chain visibility
● Insufficient training resources
● Outdated information
● Individual expertise and insights
Effective decision-making relies on accurate, up-to-date data. To address knowledge constraints, it's vital to invest in forecasting, improve supply chain visibility, provide comprehensive training resources, and ensure that data is current and accessible.
Leveraging technology and cloud-based solutions can aid in mitigating these constraints and fostering business growth.
Warehouse Spatial Constraints:
In distribution and logistics, warehouse spatial constraints can pose significant and common challenges. Many often grapple with:
● Limited storage capacity
● Overcrowded or cluttered storage areas
● Inadequate space for quality control checks
● Obstructed access to high-demand items
● Limited room for growth and expansion
Pinpointing Your Specific Business Constraints
While recognizing the significance of identifying the obstacles impacting your business, pinpointing them can often be challenging. If you find yourself uncertain about which specific constraints are hindering your progress, you can consider these helpful hints to assist in identifying them and effectively addressing them:
Evaluate your warehouse's current space utilization. Assess your spatial constraints by examining the warehouse’s capacity, including scrutinizing how efficiently the available space is being utilized and determining if additional space is needed.
Gather insights from your internal and external stakeholders. Consider collecting feedback from various stakeholders, including employees, customers, and vendors. Internal stakeholders, particularly those involved in day-to-day operations, often provide valuable perspectives on constraints and potential improvements.
Visualize and analyze your distribution process. Try creating a visual representation of your entire distribution process to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies. By mapping out the workflow, it becomes easier to pinpoint areas where constraints may arise.
Collect information through structured surveys. Deploy surveys, including employee and logistic team surveys, to gather specific feedback on distribution constraints they may see or feel. This method helps in understanding both internal and external perspectives on the challenges faced.
Examine technology-related constraints. Focus on evaluating any technological limitations, such as system issues. A technology audit is crucial for identifying constraints related to software, hardware, or other technological aspects impacting distribution efficiency.
Assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Conduct a SWOT analysis to understand the internal and external factors influencing the distribution center. This includes identifying strengths and weaknesses within the organization and opportunities and threats in the broader competitive landscape.
How to Leverage Microsoft Technology
Now let’s take a look at how to leverage the power of Microsoft technology to enhance your warehouse efficiency and address distribution constraints effectively. This will include a dive into five key categories: ERP warehousing functionality, ERP advanced warehousing functionality, the mobile device app, transaction history, and cloud-based solutions.
ERP Warehousing functionality
To begin leveraging Microsoft technology for warehouse optimization, we'll first explore the out-of-the-box ERP Warehouse functionality, which can serve as the foundation for warehousing processes. Some of the key features include:
● Enables tracking and management of material.
● Supports strategic decision-making based on on-hand quantities.
● Allocates inventory for shipping and delivery processes.
Shipping and Delivery Processes:
● Facilitates outbound processes, supporting allocation, creation of packing slips, and shipping.
● Provides basic tracking for inventory control.
● Allows tracking of lot numbers, serial numbers, batch codes, and loot codes.
● Tracks inbound products, including details on vendors and product receipts.
● Ensures alignment between physical and financial receiving aspects.
● Streamlines sales order processing, from order creation to picking and packing.
● Enables tracking to location levels, aisles, and bins.
● Supports setting default locations for items, aiding warehouse organization and space utilization.
● Offers standard reporting capabilities for basic performance monitoring.
● Allows confirmation of on-hand quantities and overall warehouse functionality.
ERP Advanced Warehousing Functionality
This advanced version unlocks upgraded features that have the potential to transform your processes and further support your efforts to create a thriving distribution center. It is often considered a phase two approach for clients using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. Here are a few of the notable, sophisticated capabilities:
● Application is available on Android, iOS, and Microsoft store.
● Provides real-time data access for inventory lookup and transaction processing.
● Establishes specific rules for systematic product placement based on attributes or demand.
● Sophisticated rule sets guide the product to designated locations.
● Utilizes advanced algorithms for optimized order processing.
● Location directives facilitate efficient picking routes, minimizing unnecessary movement.
● Optimizes warehouse storage by assigning items specific slots based on demand.
● Ensures efficient use of inventory shelving areas.
● Allows for the creation of advanced labels and barcodes.
● Efficient tracking with unique identifiers like license plate labels for each pallet.
● Enables auto-scheduling and assignment of warehouse tasks to personnel or equipment.
● Configurable structure for pre-assigning tasks to streamline workflow and resource allocation.
The Mobile Device Application
The Warehouse Management Application, or otherwise referred to as the mobile device app, enhances warehouse operations with improved accessibility, real-time updates, streamlined inventory management, reduced paperwork, and enhanced data accuracy. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of these time-saving features:
● Access critical business data and processes from anywhere.
● Facilitates remote operations for offsite warehouses or multiple distribution centers.
● Provides instant access to real-time data for better decision-making.
● Enables on-the-spot cycle counts and reduces the risk of miscounts or errors.
● Easily tracks and manages inventory levels.
● Supports the posting of movements, ensuring alignment between physical and systemic practices.
● Utilizes system-directed work processes to eliminate paperwork.
● Minimizes communication gaps and reliance on external systems.
● Minimizes data entry errors through mobile device capture.
● Enables real-time data entry, improving accuracy and eliminating the need for later recounts.
The transaction history encompasses valuable features such as historical data analysis, automatic creation of an audit trail, compliance monitoring, and forecasting for comprehensive and informed decision-making. Below are some additional specific benefits highlighted for each feature.
Historical Data Analysis:
● Breaks down historical data into various segments, including picking, putaway, client data, customer data, and vendor items.
● Maintains a continuous record of all transactions within Advanced Warehousing.
● Facilitates tracking and auditing of all financial transactions associated with orders, production orders, sales orders, and transfer orders.
● Ensures comprehensive cost tracking and financial transaction monitoring.
● Eases regulatory compliance checks by providing a clear transaction history.
● Presents a transparent environment for compliance monitoring, showcasing the origin of transactions.
● Assists in forecasting future financial and inventory needs.
● Enables informed decision-making by providing insights into historical and projected transaction history.
Cloud-based solutions offer scalability, cost-efficiency, increased accessibility, security, and wide-variety of collaborative benefits to improve processes and create a thriving distribution center. Here is a more detailed breakdown of each feature and its potential benefits to your business.
● Easily scale resources up or down to meet the business's changing needs.
● Provides flexibility for growth or adjustments in response to varying business demands.
● Reduces upfront capital expenses with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
● Ensures cost efficiency by aligning expenses with actual resource usage.
● Enables access to data and applications from anywhere with an internet connection.
● Offers the same accessibility benefits as the mobile application, promoting flexibility.
● Microsoft provides advanced security measures and compliance certifications.
● Ensures data protection and adherence to industry security standards.
● Facilitates remote collaboration and real-time document sharing.
● Enhances teamwork and connectivity among team members regardless of location.
If you need assistance in identifying your specific distribution constraints and unlocking features within Microsoft to streamline processes and support further growth, please reach out to our Stoneridge experts. We are eager to help enhance your warehouse performance for continued growth.
Under the terms of this license, you are authorized to share and redistribute the content across various mediums, subject to adherence to the specified conditions: you must provide proper attribution to Stoneridge as the original creator in a manner that does not imply their endorsement of your use, the material is to be utilized solely for non-commercial purposes, and alterations, modifications, or derivative works based on the original material are strictly prohibited.
Responsibility rests with the licensee to ensure that their use of the material does not violate any other rights.