While every warehouse is unique, warehouse operations can often feel like variations on a theme. Almost every warehouse follows the same flow of receiving goods, storing them, and then shipping them out to a downstream destination. Warehouse Management Systems are designed to facilitate this flow and stay flexible to meet individual business requirements.
However, there are some cases where this typical sequence of events may seem incapable of meeting your business requirement. A WMS is designed to handle boxes flowing in and out of the warehouse, but can it handle your processes when your inventory is live animals, not boxes? What happens if your packing requirements change with the weather? What if every new SKU has to undergo a magazine photoshoot before being putaway? These, among others, are some of the business requirements our clients have had that uniquely shape the way that they use their warehouse management systems.
My most memorable request was by a top-tier pet supplies retailer who needed their warehouse management system to handle live fish, amphibians, and other aquatic animals. There are a multitude of complexities that go along with storing and caring for fish, including routine tank cleanings and health checkups, inventory counts on moving animals, and special shipping requirements for moving fish safely across the country.
To account for the difficulty in cycle counting live fish, variance levels can be configured to allow for a small variance between what the associate can count and the quantity of fish in the tank without triggering an error or an inventory update. Additionally, by implementing special packing and loading criteria for the fish, the warehouse management system can coordinate the live animals being loaded onto trucks safely. Because the safety of the fish is a high priority, the warehouse management system is crucial to ensure that the right packing materials are used in order to get the fish to the store without having a negative impact on their health.
Another client, a large food distributor, had a different requirement for specializing their packing process. In order to maintain food safety during long transportation routes, they require cold packs to be included with every shipment that contains cold goods. However, due to differences in the weather, the number of cold packs has to change for each origin, destination, and outside temperature in order to uphold the safety requirements.
In order to display the correct number of cold packs to the packing associates, the WMS requests weather data for the origin-destination pair from an outside source and uses it to determine the right number of cold packs to include. It then displays the correct number of cold packs on the packing display so that the associate knows what to include. Lastly, the system requires the cold packs to be scanned before being packed with the goods in order to ensure that everything has been packed properly and meets safety guidelines.
There are many other examples of our clients who use their warehouse management systems to accomplish unconventional business requirements. Do you want to learn more about how Bricz deals with creative problem solving in your WMS? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Contributor: Casey Bell, Supply Chain Leader at Bricz