Increase Distribution Profitability
UPS and FedEx both use dimensional weight to determine shipping rates, making it increasingly important for parcel B2B and B2C Internet fulfillment operations to use cartonization software and scan-weigh-dimensioning technology in order to have accurate inline dimension-weigh-capture performed for each outbound shipment. Estimating the dim-weight or relying on an operator to record or manually enter the carton size is costly and error prone, and results in shipping costly charge-back penalties. UPS, USPS, and FedEx require accurate dim-weight data for each parcel in the daily manifest.
Pick and pack processes for best practice warehouse order fulfillment operations should start order release knowing the actual SKU/item dim-weight. Accurate item master data details allow Cartonization software at order release, enabling companies to pre-select the size of each order carton and determine shipping carton prior to the start of pick and pack operation. This eliminates operator guess work, and operators manually selecting the carton selection at the packing operation. This process is not only a double touch, but increases shipping cost from operator’s documented tendency to pick too big of a box which results in companies paying to ship air, and over use of void, air pillows, and shipping peanuts.
Cartonization logic reduces labor and adds efficiency to the order picking process by seamlessly combining pick and pack of orders into shipping cartons in a single touch pick pack process. When the carton selection is based on mathematics instead of tribal knowledge or guesswork, a distribution center reduces wasted labor time, reduces void material usage, lowers corrugate costs which quickly adds up to $100,000’s of dollars a year of savings generated in operations shipping a few hundred cartons a day.
When Cartonization software is used to select and direct a pick to carton process combined with Voice Picking and Pick to Light an operation generally increases picking productivity 35% – 50% and also packing efficiency 100% because packers no longer need to perform carton selection or secondary inspection. Cartonization works by calculating each order’s optimal carton size using the item master SKU dimensions and weight data, then selects the smallest available best fit carton from the list of available sizes. When cartonization is combined with Pick by Voice and hands free scanning in a batch pick operation, shipping cartons are assigned to a cart based on efficient batch/cluster picking opportunity, and walk path optimization. This results in a huge productivity increase. A typical RDS™ Voice Directed Smart Pick Cart Operation provides 120 – 130 Lines Per Hour (LPH) rates per operator and accuracy rates of 99.98 – 99.99%. These efficiency gains are not only realized in the picking process, but amplified in the pack process because since orders are already picked and packed into the shipping carton, they do not need to be repacked, and with the accuracy gains obtained by combining voice picking with hands free scanning operators also do not need to secondary inspection. Plus, there are huge shipping savings when using system directed selection of optimal shipping carton which reduce the cost to ship, and create additional savings by reducing void fill material usage. Operations shipping 500 cartons per day will generally obtain a better than 18-month ROI when deploying an RDS™ Voice Smart Pick, Pack, and Ship system.
To reiterate, Cartonization not only lowers the impact of DIM-Weight on parcel shipments, and can be combined with technologies and automation such as pick to voice which enables pick and pack directly to the right size carton or padded bag. Deploying an order fulfillment automation system for B2B or ecommerce that starts order release by picking directly into the right shipping carton is guaranteed to be a lean, single-touch pick and pack operation. Automating in this manner will eliminate the operator’s chance of selecting the wrong-sized carton, reduces void usage, and the lower the cost to ship!
Inline Scan-Weigh-Dim technology is the final validation step required to close-out the pick and pack process. Over twenty-five years ago, Numina Group patented the use of laser triangulation measurement technology to accurately dimension cartons and thus the “Cuber” was born. Since the invention of the high speed inline dimensioning, it has grown to become a must-have technology for every distribution center that ships 500 or more parcels a day.
Companies relying on operators and manual manifesting workstations to perform parcel measuring and data entry have many inaccuracies which are systematic and attributed to human error. These are better suited for automated measurement technologies. Today’s dimensional weight measurement systems are so accurate because they are based on third generation 3-D camera sensors as the heart of the inline scan, weigh, dimensioning (SWD) System. A top tier WCS-WES such as Numina Group’s RDS™, Real Time Distribution System, uses these measurement systems to audit order shipments comparing both the weight and dimensional data to the expected order dimensional weight. The SWD systems in real-time compare the expected dimensional weight to the actual dimensional weight and divert any exceptions to a QC inspection area to prevent miss-shipments. With the addition of a high resolution digital camera, the SWD System can also capture and store images of every shipment to verify quality for customer service quality control issues.
High speed in-line Scan-Weigh-Dimensioning Systems are often combined with print and apply labeling systems. This shipping automation process provides the means to select the lowest cost in a multi-carrier distribution operation. The SWD system captures carton’s weights and dimensions at a high speed and inline and sends the information to a shipping manifest system which can then determine optimal shipping method. The shipping manifest system will then send a manifested shipping label to the print and apply labeling system. The automated labeling system prints, applies, and verifies the right carrier label is auto applied to each carton or padded bag shipment. If, however, the SWD system detected an inconsistency between expected weigh or dimension a carton will be sent to an exception station for secondary inspection. Companies that combine Cartonization logic, in-line SWD, and auto-labeling technologies integrated to a customer’s WMS/ERP systems can increase productivity and the operations profitability by removing 6-8 manual operators at the pack and ship operation.
Numina Group is a leading warehouse automation company offering an entire family of pick pack and ship automation components including Cartonization software combined with Scan-Weigh Dimension technology. It’s Real-Time Distribution (RDS™) Software is a scalable and robust Warehouse Control and Execution System (WES-WCS) proven to improve accuracy and productivity by using proven automation technologies to decrease labor costs. Contact the Numina Group to learn more about Cartonization Software or Scan-Weigh-Dim Technology, or to schedule an on-site consultation.