Warehouse simulation improves the flow of inventory

3D Warehouse simulation software

What does supply chain optimisation really mean?

It is not unusual for a supply chain to represent up to 75% of your organisations total cost. The success of your business is attributed to controlling these costs to ensure that strategic initiatives can be achieved, driving profitability and growth. As organisation’s have been able to achieve significant improvements through productivity and efficiency gains by leveraging supply chain technologies through integration, greater scope remains to create a more effective supply chain model. 3D warehouse simulation software controls inventory flow and identifies enormous opportunities to manage inventory investment and stock turn levels within a in a risk-free environment.

Optimisation is a term that is discussed quite frequently within the supply chain sector, though its full potential is still challenging to realise. Organisations have invested quite heavily in supply chain technology platforms such as ERP systems, warehouse management systems and CRM solutions over the last few decades. To date, many organisations have made considerable gains, though it would be fair to say that the real return on investment has been achieved through efficiency improvements, most organisations are still to recoup their total investment.

Although the quality of the architecture available today has enabled these supply chain technologies to collaborate more seamlessly by managing and exchanging data for better decision making, the opportunity remains to embrace simulation tools to deliver improvements in your supply chain.   

How 3D warehouse simulation software improves inventory flow?

Simulation has the ability to predict outcomes by using a complex set of variables that drive the supply chain simulation model to output meaningful and realistic scenarios. Each scenario is delivering your business a different value proposition that enables your supply chain to be more responsive to variability. Your supply chain model changes to manage this variability more effectively. Any system that can be defined using equations can effectively be simulated.
 
In a dynamic simulation, behaviour changes are impacted by inputs over time, these changes are analysed and further improved upon by changing the simulation model. The objective is to minimise inefficiencies throughout the entire supply chain. Take a loot at some of the typical functions of a warehouse where simulation can add value.
 
 

Receiving

Manage your receiving function by controlling workflow processes and resources to reduce cycle time for supplier order processing in your warehouse facility. You can redistribute resources to manage the increase in deliveries from suppliers and free up stock quicker to fill customer orders.
 
Imagine being able to manage and utilise forklifts better to unload all supplier deliveries onto your site. Be proactive with unplanned supplier deliveries by allocating resources from other parts of your warehouse to process the stock consignment. Yard management can also be improved by managing the arrival, loading and unloading of shipping containers by improving the layout and controls on your site.
 

Staging area

Ask anyone who works in a receiving department in a warehouse if more space is needed. Most warehouse operations tend to suffer from a lack of space in the receiving department for a number of reasons. Some are a result of poor site planning and configuration, while others are simple poor processes or a lack of planning supplier deliveries, their order size and frequency.

Dynamic warehouse simulation improves the flow of inventory in your receiving department by managing supplier deliveries with available space and time. By simulating the flow of supplier deliveries throughout your staging area, opportunities will be created for identifying and removing process delays and non value added activities by the receiving staff. Resources will be able to support the customer returns area more regularly and assist in reducing stock piles of unprocessed customer returns.

Putaway

This process is generally quicker than the initial order breakdown and identification of stock before its booked into your facility, though it is still not available to fill customer orders until the putaway cycle is completed. As all deliveries are unique, some can be navigated as a direct bulk or discrete part pallet for immediate putaway, while other pallets are mixed and require considerable effort for breakdown.

By constructing an inventory based simulation model, the opportunities for improvement are endless as all of the moving parts within the putaway process can be modified to achieve the most optimum level of performance. If your focus is on speed to market, then the layout and putaway flow must be developed to ensure that you can maximise resource and equipment utilisation while products are moved along their ideal travel paths..

Replenishment

The replenishment function in most warehouse operations is supported by dedicated resources that spend hours moving inventory from bulk pallet locations to drop zones, multiple bulk pick faces or discrete pick faces. Other warehouse operations tend to undervalue the importance of stock replenishment as the process is not resourced correctly as staff are focussed on receiving and despatch functions which are considered more important. Reallocation of staff to support replenishment is typically because the picker has an empty slot and cannot fill the order, its reactive rather than proactive.

Simulation will provide the ability to balance site resources against immediate demand for either customer orders or replenishment work orders. By being able to predict when a pick face or bulk pick face requires replenishment, most erp and wms can handle this extremely well. However, other tools are required to load plan and balance demand with resource availability to meet a time deadline.

Our aim is to ensure that stock is available on time, every time. Simulation will balance labour against work order volume and timeframes to achieve the right fill rates for replenishment and the lowest cost.

Picking

In many respects, the picking function of a warehouse is similar to the receiving process, only its the reverse and is generally more time consuming and resource intensive. Depending on the supply chain foot print of your warehouse, the scale of the picking operation will vary both in size and distance travelled.

Both are governed by the nature of your business, the product profile, the type of storage equipment use and the service proposition to your clients ie same day or next day. A perfume and cosmetics picking operation will be completely different to a wine pick operation. The former being prodominantly split case while the latter is primarily bulk pick.

The real value of simulation is not dependant on these factors, it is able to identify the best pick paths to support the demand of customer orders within set delivery timeframe. Resources, equipment and size of the pick zone are all taken into account when modelling the desired outcome for your business.

Whether you are using wave picking, voice picking, RF picking or paper picking, these are all tools and can be incorporated into the model as variables utilised to achieve the optimum pick rate targets..

 

Benefits of warehouse simulation

  1. Real time operational decision making capability
  2. Ability to change your supply chain model to support variability
  3. Dynamic changes resource levels to support demand patterns
  4. Visual representation provides greater awareness of your supply chain
  5. Identifies the real cost to serve of a supply chain model
  6. Change management is improved through virtualisation

Warehouse simulation improves the flow of inventory throughout the warehouse operation by selecting the best workflow paths for resources and equipment to move inventory in the most efficient and cost effective way reducing cycle times in the receiving, replenishment, order picking, sortation and despatch processes