Responding to Warehouse Management Needs

Adonix' Warehouse Management System Response

Modern warehouses have complex requirements. Fast product cycles, the need to decrease inventory and increase the flow of goods through the supply chain means that warehouses cannot remain static. Virtual real time data must match the supply to demand. Furthermore, many light manufacturing operations, such as final assembly, customized packing, labeling, and engraving, have been moved from shop floors to warehouses and distribution centers (DC). As a result, supply chain execution (SCE) software has been created and amended to handle these complex requirements. Warehouse management systems (WMS) play a key role in a company's postponement strategy to delay the customization of products until after the products or customized components leave the manufacturing plant.

Part Three of the Adonix' Mid-Market FORMULA--Adopting Best of Both "Organic Growers" and "Aggressive Consolidators" Worlds series.

To address SCE for users of its discrete and process manufacturing suites, Adonix (, France's largest, privately owned enterprise solutions provider for medium manufacturers, provides three distinct offerings for automating warehouse activities, based on key factors such as transaction volumes and complexity of processing requirements. WMS and SCE might be the best examples of Adonix' commitment to providing its customers with the building blocks for supply chain management (SCM). Its research and development strategy has involved examining and prioritizing market trends to help customers grow and new products and services are then introduced through both in-house development and acquisition.

Adonix has provided warehouse solutions in North America since the 1980s, which has allowed it to leverage existing experience and skills. It also has a fairly strong historical customer base starting with Navistar and VWR Scientific, and is a pioneer in the radio frequency (RF) technology, authoring LXE LDS device drivers. Existing and prospective user companies can use the warehousing capabilities within the Adonix' offering set that match the sophistication of their facilities:

  1. Adonix Geode GX is a full-function WMS designed within the Adonix X3 development framework to meet the needs of mid-sized companies with large transaction volumes and sophisticated warehouse practices. It is an enterprise-level configurable, multisite, multi-company, multilingual, multi-database/multi-operating system, and multi-workflow solution with rules-based inventory storage and retrieval and automation capabilities.

    Adonix' ideas behind Geode GX has been to offer "tier one functionality at a tier three cost-of-ownership" to medium companies that do not necessarily want to compromise on functionality and cost. As the flagship X3 ERP product, the WMS extension is also configurable for the changing needs via a 4GL personalization and configuration toolset. Adonix recently redeveloped Geode within the X3 technology and plans to sell it both as a module of Adonix X3 and as a best-of-breed WMS solution in its traditional market, especially the consumer packaged goods (CPG) vertical.

  2. The Adonix Advanced Warehousing and Adonix Data Collection modules provide RF directed support for primary warehouse activities including receiving, put-away, palletized order picking, pick planning, and shipping.

  3. The Adonix X3 Inventory module provides core location and stock management functionality as an integrated component within Adonix X3. It can work either as a paper-based solution or with ADC support for most inventory transactions.

This is Part Three of a four-part note.

Part One detailed the company and its products.

Part Two discussed Adonix' strategy.

Part Four will cover technology, challenges, and make user recommendations.

Adonix X3 and Geode GX

Adonix announced the North American availability of Adonix Geode GX in May at the Distribution/Computer Expo 2005 at the Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinios (US). The product is configurable for a user enterprise, and supports current technologies such as RF devices, bar coding, and features multi-site, multi-workflow, and has many accompanying automation capabilities (such as conveyors, automatic storage and retrieval systems [AS/RS], carousels and sorting equipment). Its open design orientation makes it relatively easy to fit into most operating environments including support for Microsoft Windows and UNIX platforms as well as for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases. Also, its user interface (UI) is available both on the Internet and in traditional client/server mode.

GX has been implemented in over 100 Europe sites and Geode has been implemented at 350 sites, in industries as diverse as retail distribution, manufacturing, wholesale, automotive, chemical and third party logistics (3PL). Its users include market leaders such as Hewlett-Packard (HP), Wyeth Lederle, and Philips. The launch follows several years of successful implementations at customer sites throughout Europe, with other high-profile luxury CPG/retail customers, such as L'Occitane, Cartier, and Christofle, industrial/automotive customers, such as Michelin and Schneider Electric, high-tech customers like Bull, and 3PL customers like Air France, Danzas, TNT, Exel, Geodis, and Kuehne & Nagel. The North American pilot installation has been completed and is live as of early June 2005 at the US distribution operations for L'Occitane in Lyndhurst, New Jersey (US).

What might be particularly appealing about this best-of breed WMS offering, however, is that it was designed using the enterprise resource planning (ERP) counterpart, Adonix X3's toolset, and that it also mirrors the Adonix X3's target markets process and discrete manufacturers and distributors (about 40 percent of customers), chemical and pharmaceutical distributors (about 15 percent of customer), 3PLs (about 30 percent of customers), and retailers (about remaining 15 percent). This means that, unlike most peer mid-market business solutions, which are a collection of acquired packages bolted together to form a suite, Adonix has taken the time and made the hefty investment to build a solution on a single architecture that is portable to multiple platforms. This has eliminated the need to learn and support separate system platforms and might be a key distinction for mid-sized companies with limited resources, while trying to naturally boost functionality and configurability to take business to the next level of competitiveness.

Further, Geode GX complements the needs of those industries that are targeted by Adonix X3. Although Geode GX is designed to connect easily with Adonix X3 ERP, it can function as a stand-alone or can be loosely coupled WMS application with other transactional systems. The basis of the Adonix' approach is that warehousing practices can be defined by a number of practical workflows that apply to multiple vertical industries. Examples of these workflows include supply side manufacturing, vendor-managed inventory (VMI), and other supplier visibility tools, finished goods distribution, pre-distribution (retail) warehousing, web storefronts and online ordering, shipment track and trace, etc. Each workflow can then be tailored to the specific needs of an industry such as, lot control, quality assurance, import/export, serialization, and labeling.

Based on the general warehousing functionality discussed in Who Needs Warehousing and How Much Thereof?, Geode has many traits of best-of-breed WMS solutions, such as rules-based storage; allocation; picking; packing; loading; reservation (i.e., special order items) management; batch/lot control and serial number control; management of multiple product and location classifications; inventory transfers and external warehouse management; expiration/use by/sell by date control; European Article Number (EAN-13) or universal product code (UPC) management; cycle counting and inventory management; and a bevy of inquiries and reporting capabilities.

Further, its scalable tier one inbound features would include dock scheduling and management; inventory blocking and non-conformity management; automatic or manual allocation of inventory locations; location allocation in proximity of picking bays; inventory consolidation; multi-batch and multi-product slot management; validation against expected input/ASN, bonded stock management; quality control, including the ability to apply and remove holds on the incoming inventory; and inbound sampling. On the other hand, the scalable tier one outbound features include wave simulation and wave management; batch picking (order picking); order splitting; back order, and short allocation management (in case of insufficient inventory to satisfy all the orders); dates management (first in, first out [FIFO], sell by date, ship by date, etc.); replenishment methods (by using min/max limits, override, source control, etc.); carton sizing/pre-packing or directed packing; and shipment/load control and document preparation.

Parcel Shipping Closes the SCE Offering

When coupled with Adonix's best-of-breed Transcomm Shipping Solution (TSS) add-on for supporting multi-carrier, parcel manifesting with rate shopping, so Geode GX fills the gap between order and delivery for customers that have higher volume and complex distribution operations.

Adonix TSS is designed to fully automate the parcel manifesting capabilities of companies dealing with large daily volumes of small packet shipments using multiple carriers. Namely, because warehouses are increasingly shipping orders with lower quantities, but have growing line items, small parcel shipment (SPS) management systems may be even more important than full-fledged WMS/transportation management systems (TMS) systems for some businesses, particularly for those doing high volumes and complex order profiles. To that end, these kind of products should determine where products are going and which shipper to use ( e.g., FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.), and it then creates the appropriate label during picking.

Conversely, the traditional WMS approach involves extra steps. It has to first perform picks, move items to the shipping area, and then generate labels. Other notable features these kinds of products have include integrated WMS check/pack dialog, carrier compliant labeling, parcel rating, on-line carrier manifesting, combined carrier/compliance label, pre-print labels for cluster picking, cash on delivery (COD) support, and multiple rate servers. Another buzzword applicable to both SPS and WMS is "cartonization", which automatically determines the best way to box and package orders (e.g., how many products or boxes will fit in a bigger box, factoring in component weight and size).

Adonix Advanced Shipping

Adonix TSS, Adonix' shipping and manifesting solution was announced in 2004 and made available as two packaged configurations. Based on ConnectShip's multi-carrier shipping and manifesting technology, Adonix then enhanced the SPS system with a wide array of additional features, as well as a pre-defined two-way interface with the Adonix X3 ERP system. Called Adonix Advanced Shipping, the offering has two pre-packaged price levels associated with two or four carrier configurations, or additional carriers as required by the customer. The choice of carriers includes UPS, FedEx Ground and Air, DHL and a company's preferred less-than-truckload (LTL) partner.

Adonix Advanced Shipping is a more suitable solution for companies shipping typically more than 500 parcels per day, and that can accrue significant cost savings through rate shopping, automatic shipping cost and discount calculations, and real-time shipment tracking. While providing similar cost-saving capabilities, Adonix Shipping is more appropriate for companies employing a single carrier for fewer than 500 daily shipments, but would still like the flexibility to compare their primary carrier's price rate with others, prior to making a carrier selection.

Regardless of the configuration selected, Adonix' shipping solutions promise to enhance customer service by automatically sending customer shipment notifications via e-mail and by providing browser-based package tracking and reporting, as well as unattended electronic data interchange (EDI) carrier uploads. The Adonix shipping and manifesting offerings also come with a fixed scope complement of value-added services, from carrier configuration and commission assistance to system testing, training, and implementation support, all designed to ensure a fully operational, integrated solution for a faster payback.

With Adonix TSS, all departments related to outbound processing, such as, order entry, customer service, accounting and the warehouse, should stay informed of when an order will ship, where it is going, and how it will be delivered. The system promises to provide the following features and benefits:

  • increased productivity in the shipping process, due to the ability to ship any carrier from any workstation, instead of using multiple systems and since combined picking and shipping reduces steps in the shipment process

  • reduced shipping costs and improved leverage with carriers due to rate-shopping searches for the lowest rate and even user's own negotiated rates, and for reduced reliance on a single carrier

  • enhanced customer service resulting from automatically notifying customers or customer service of shipment status via e-mail. It also can provide a single Web page for customer service and Web users can obtain current tracking information. It allows for address corrections and provide carrier/rate information at the time of order via phone or Web

  • improved management visibility including shipping reports provided by Web browsers from anywhere on the network, so that one can analyze late and lost shipments

  • enabled business expansion because a scalable design helps support higher shipping volumes, whereas the Webbased user interface supports rapid roll-out to additional workstations or sites, with no software installation necessary on the workstation, and there is the support for complex business rules

This concludes Part Three of a four-part note.

Part One detailed the company and its products.

Part Two discussed Adonix' strategy.

Part Four will cover technology, challenges, and make user recommendations.

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