New era of competition

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Now the market is picking up and the consolidation process has led to the emergence of two major players in the UK WMS market: Manhattan and RedPrairie. And the consolidation continues: only a couple of months ago RedPrairie took over Marc Global.

But perhaps the most significant recent development in the market is the arrival in the UK of 3M Supply Chain Solutions, part of the US-based 3M group which now has sales of some £12bn.

While 3M is probably still best known for sticky tape and Post-it notes, it has been expanding in the business services and systems area and two years ago bought HighJump Software, the supply chain execution software provider based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

HighJump was launched in the US more than 20 years ago and targets medium to large companies. More than 700 companies now use its software.

In the UK, operations go under the name 3M Supply Chain Solutions powered by HighJump Software – and it is determined to challenge the established leaders, Manhattan and RedPrairie.

In December, HighJump released version 8.0 of its Supply Chain Advantage suite. “HighJump continues its commitment to providing superior supply chain execution functionality that delivers bottom-line results for our customers,” said president Chris Heim.

One of the key developments to the warehouse management module is the integration with Vocollect to give voice-enabled picking options configurable by warehouse, specific pick area or specific employee. Additionally, HighJump has added functionality to deepen the replenishment model for top-off replenishment, quantity-based replenishments, and dynamic calculation of replenishment quantities based on demand. The system’s supply chain visibility was also enhanced by adding a complete set of executive dashboard performance metrics and web pages.

The manufacturing execution module now includes a scheduling workbench to allows planners and schedulers to effectively manage production against a set schedule.

HighJump has strengthened the functionality of its Yard management system through a graphical user interface, drag-and-drop yard moves, multi-yard support and real-time location tracking for trailers.

There have been a number of other signification product launches over the past couple of months. Manhattan has just released the latest version of its Fleet Management system, a component of its Integrated Logistics Solution. The system analyses real-time information on all fleet activity so businesses can better perform routeing and scheduling operation in real time and dynamically monitor critical metrics and events.

Manhattan’s Fleet Management is able to take into account Working Time Directive regulations, company fleet requirements, driver preferences, weight limitations and maintenance schedules and includes tandem load functionality, allowing companies to support more than one trailer per truck.

In February, Oracle launched Oracle Transport Management, a new brand based upon the transport management offering Oracle obtained through its acquisition of G-Log. Relying on G-Log’s global command and control centre product as the foundation, Oracle Transport Management provides a broad range of services including optimisation, order entry, procurement, supply chain event management and visibility, track and trace, freight payment and historical analysis. It is available as a stand-alone product.

Oracle plans to extend the offering’s integration capabilities through the use of Oracle BPEL Process Manager – a component of Oracle Fusion Middleware. Oracle BPEL Process Manager is designed to help customers quickly implement the products and achieve a rapid return on their investments.

Vice president product strategy Jon Chorley says: “Through the planned use of Oracle BPEL Process Manager we intend to strengthen the existing ability to support flexible integration to enterprise resource planning applications, regardless of the customers’ underlying software.”

Voice technology has been exercising minds at Aldata. It has launched a voice technology system, Gold Vocal, which provides a complete set of warehouse operations including; order preparation (picking), preparation by splitting and picking inventory, under voice technology.

Gold Vocal is a full module of the Aldata Gold SCM software suite and is integrated with Gold Stock, Aldata’s warehouse management system. It can also be connected to other warehouse management systems using standard interfaces.

Aldata reckons on productivity gains of between 20 per cent to 40 per cent depending on the process, reductions in order preparation errors by a factor of five to 10, improved quality service levels, very easy operator training and consequently a very fast deployment not to mention an overall return on investment in six months.

The company has just won a contract with Carrefour, the giant French retailer, is to use the Gold SCM software in its 179 hypermarkets throughout France.

The order covers Gold Central and Gold Shop, for centralised retail execution and optimised replenishment of the stores. With this agreement Carrefour is continuing its strategic deployment of Aldata Gold as part of a global agreement signed with Aldata in December 2003.

The first phase of the implementation, aimed at automatic replenishment and just-in-time flow management, starts immediately. The complete roll-out is planned by mid-2006.

In a further consolidation of the market SSA Global Technologies has taken over Provia Software supply chain execution systems giving it a small-to-medium market SCE system that complements SSA’s existing supply chain management offerings, which target

Tesco consults the Oracle

Tesco has deployed the Oracle Retail warehouse management system within several of its fresh and ambient distribution centres across Europe and South East Asia. Forming part of the Tesco-In-A-Box strategy, Oracle Retail WMS supports a standardisation of supply chain practices across the international business. It is now operational in Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, with further implementations planned over the next 18 months.

Tesco first deployed Oracle Retail WMS at its new ambient distribution centre in South Korea. With a requirement to distribute up to two million cases across 20,000 skus per week, the aims were to strip out costs from the supply chain, optimise transport through large range capabilities via one site, and create a vanilla implementation to become the basis for all further implementations internationally. A combination of strong base functionality and Tesco-specific development by Oracle Retail, has provided Tesco with a system that is now a basis for common processes and operations across its international distribution centres.

“As businesses scale you cannot rely on direct-to-store deliveries,” says Tesco’s programme manager David Briggs.

“Tesco created a set of centralised processes to automate, manage and integrate replenishment and distribution and worked with Oracle Retail to integrate these into the new warehouse management system. Where possible, Tesco tried to use a consistent execution team to simplify the change management process.”

The first implementation of the Oracle Retail Warehouse Management System in a fresh produce distribution centre went live in Gyal, Hungary, in September 2004.

Fresh goods have unique handling characteristics, so Tesco created all the internal processes from scratch. Successful implementations and go-lives followed at fresh distribution centres in Poland, Korea, Thailand and Slovakia in 2005. Tesco has also opened further ambient distribution centres in Malaysia, Thailand and Slovakia.

Boosting supply chain visibility

Customers are seeking three things from supply chain execution software, according to Kewill’s Evan Puzey. First comes broader connectivity across the supplier base to give increased visibility. Secondly, he says, there is a desire among retailers to improve business process management in the inbound chain. The third element is improving collaboration – allowing partners in the chain to agree on the process and then manage it.

Puzey also points to the development of direct dispatch in e-commerce. Rather than the vendor holding stock, orders received over the internet are fulfilled direct from the supplier.

Such systems have been tried in the past but have often failed because they were not agile and responsive enough. However, Puzey argues that the technology is now available to take control of the process more effectively.

Kewill focuses on three main areas: order management, shipping and transport and international trade. Puzey says that with the growth in international trade it is being asked more and more frequently to integrate those elements together.

Sainsbury is extending the deployment of Kewill Trade across all remaining Goods Not For Resale (GNFR) suppliers providing the retailer with a 100 per cent electronic trading environment across its trading partners in the Goods For Resale (GFR) and GNFR sectors.

The contract builds on Kewill’s existing relationship with Sainsbury whereby GFR and GNFR suppliers have been electronically enabled via Kewill Trade, an internet-based order management system. Deploying the system allows Sainsbury to send orders to its GNFR suppliers which currently receive orders via fax, telephone, or e-mail with no change to Sainsbury’s internal systems. It also allow suppliers to view orders from Sainsbury over the internet and enables suppliers to create invoices and send them to Sainsbury’s electronically via the Internet.

John Green, Sainsbury’s head of procurement, says: “Kewill Trade is continuing to help us reduce the time consuming and resource intensive administration processes as invoices are re-keyed. The system enables us to streamline our business and system processes and reduce inaccuracies and delays in order fulfilment thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our supply chain operations.

“Sainsbury’s has experienced significant cost savings in its GFR and GNFR supply chain operations for a number of years through the use of the Kewill Trade system and this extension will deliver a further level of benefit over the three year contract period.”

Evan Puzey also points to intriguing area of development. While there has been much attention focused on voice picking, Kewill is looking at similar technology for mobile staff such as drivers.

This means that rather than giving a delivery driver an expensive hand held terminal to record delivery information and provide real time visibility, the same result could be achieved by giving the driver a mobile phone to talk to a voice-enabled computer back at base.

Healthcare Logistics picks Manhattan

Healthcare Logistics, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical distribution company Celesio, serves pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Pfizer, GSK, Novartis and Aventis, and delivers 40 per cent of the UK’s medicines by value.

In early 2001, Healthcare Logistics started work on the creation of an 11,000 sq m warehouse in Bedford that would be purpose-built around the needs of the UK pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

It chose Manhattan Associates’ warehouse management system for iSeries to automate the new distribution centre. The system, operating on IBM’s eServer platform, offered the flexibility needed to accommodate the multiple operating procedures of its growing list of clients. And it had the ability to manage batch control and track expiration dates – critical functionality in the world of medicine.

All product movements within the four walls of the warehouse are controlled by Manhattan Associates’ warehouse management for iSeries system, supported by radio-frequency technology from mobile systems specialist LXE. Inventory specifications are either pre-received into the system via advance ship notices or entered into the system as goods are physically received at the warehouse.

All goods are inspected for quality upon arrival at the distribution centre and where required, information such as batch number, expiry date, pack size, quantity and number of items is updated in the warehouse management system. All goods-in pallets then receive a bar coded label containing a unique serial number which, when combined with LXE’s RF equipment, enables detailed product and batch traceability within the warehouse. The warehouse management system then decides which products are stored where according to a pre-set number of algorithms.

Picking in the warehouse takes place in five forms: full pallet picking; full case picking; break case picking; chill store picking; and picking of controlled drugs. Most orders however are made up of full case and break case picking that takes place on the mezzanine floor levels. This area is laid out in a horseshoe pattern which allows for replenishment to take place from the outside thereby avoiding interruptions to the picking process. Faster moving goods are held in double-deep pallet live racking and slower moving products are held in carton live racking that allows for cartons to be stocked six deep.

Orders are released to the warehouse for picking in waves according to their priority. Waves can be set up by customer, by warehouse area, by delivery point, or by delivery due date. Orders are picked onto trolleys and as the last carton of an order is packed, a carton wave manifest is printed and the warehouse management system sends an update back to the appropriate host. The orders are delivered to shipping and shipments are then built according to post codes and load volume.

Beiersdorf goes live with RF

The UK arm of Beiersdorf, producer of brands like Nivea, Atrixo and Elastoplast, has gone live with a wireless RF system at its UK distribution centre. The system, delivered by Catalyst International, uses SAPConsole and Catalyst International’s SAP Transactions to manage in-bound, picking, replenishment and dispatch.

Beiersdorf appointed Catalyst to develop a wireless RF system last summer. Its main UK 100,000 sq ft distribution centre in Birmingham was using a paper-based system to handle the movement of goods through the warehouse. The system will now enable Beiersdorf to further improve stock accuracy, as well as providing a real-time view of both inventory and task allocation in the warehouse.

Martin Kelly, head of logistics for Beiersdorf UK, says: “We have ambitious business growth goals and this system enables us to handle higher volumes in our distribution centre. The Catalyst SAP Transactions system seamlessly integrates handheld radio terminals on the warehouse floor with our SAP system, so we now have full visibility of product movements and greater flexibility on how we allocate our staff resources at all times. The success of the go-live confirms our decision to go with the Catalyst system which is open, required less equipment to set up and was implemented smoothly and rapidly.”

The wireless warehouse management system is based on the SAPConsole, a native radio frequency data collection application for SAP R/3 that addresses mainly warehouse management processes.

The system takes advantage of how Catalyst has developed a library of transactions to extend the functionality of the SAPConsole throughout the enterprise.

These enhancements are seamlessly added to the SAPConsole and work with RF devices without requiring any extra networking investments or middleware.

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