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Warehouse with many products on shelves

UKMail

UKMail the same day courier and logistics arm of Business Post, one of the UK’s leading mail and parcel delivery services, have entered into the storage and fulfilment market with the support of Optima Warehouse Solutions.

The project was conceived to fulfil the needs of a UK based computer hardware distributor who wanted to eliminate the time taken and costs involved with processing orders and delivery to the end user.

By moving their storage and fulfilment facility to within UKMail’s National Distribution Centre in Birmingham, they have reduced the time taken from picking the orders to getting them packed, into the courier network and on their way quickly to the customer.

“The beauty of this arrangement is that orders can be taken until 10:00pm at night and we can still guarantee next day delivery” says UKMail’s Systems Implementation Manager, Mike Peacock.

The project was managed and implemented with the help of Optima Warehouse Solutions within very tight time scales. “We started tendering for a software supplier to manage the warehouse in November, with a view to go live on January 3rd, Optima were one of the few companies that had the experience and a product that is flexible enough to be implemented successfully in such a short period of time”.

The complete solution also involved the integration of three separate software applications, Optimiser WMS (Stock Control Software), Consignor (Business Post Distribution Software) and the hardware distributor’s in-house business management software.

The Optimiser WMS and the distributor’s software are fully integrated meaning that the stock, sales order and purchase order data is mirrored on each system. This tight integration allows the distributor to have an accurate picture of stock levels and also the status of orders within the warehouse.

The integration between the hardware distributor and Optimiser WMS allows UKMail to be pre-advised of any stock that may arrive from their suppliers. As the deliveries arrive at the door, the warehouse staff are ready to cross check the stock against purchase orders using hand held terminals connected to Optimiser WMS using an RF network.

“We already had the RF infrastructure in place and the scanners on site, Optima’s RF module will work on any Pocket PC compliant scanner, so implementation was relatively straight forward” says Mike Peacock.

The order process begins at the distributor’s call centre where the orders are taken and then imported into Optimiser WMS. These orders are then automatically processed through to picking and then an efficient two phase pick rule directs an operator to a bulk storage area if the order exceeds the maximum pick face quantity allowed.

As the items are picked and packed Optimiser WMS notifies UKMail’s consignment system, which then generates a label and ensures that the package is transported by the best means to the end user.

With the high volumes of stock movement into and out of the warehouse it is necessary to ensure that the picking operation can be carried out in the most effective way. To achieve this UKMail made full use of the flexible replenishment function which is a standard function within Optimiser WMS.

Due to the range of products the ability to configure the replenishment parameters to suit each individual product allows UKMail to manage the stock to ensure effective picking with the minimum of effort.

With hundreds of order lines being dispatched each day and the high value of some items it was essential that stock accuracy and traceability be available within the WMS package. Optimiser WMS linked with RF barcode scanners allows UKMail to use the existing manufacturer’s barcodes to scan the products within the warehouse ensuring accurate identification of the stock.

There is little manual typing within the whole operation as barcodes are used throughout the warehouse including location and pallet labels giving a high level of accuracy and traceability. The use of barcodes also enables UKMail to efficiently carry out stock checks on a regular basis.