Warehouse Management Software: In-DEX WMS Improves Blind High Volume Cross Docking for Leading 3PL Logistics Supplier
CML Fulfilment & Logistics (CML), a dedicated 3PL, Third Party Logistics supplier based in Telford, Shropshire, specialises in both ambient and chill warehousing and distribution. It operates from a single depot with over 3,000 ambient pallet spaces and over 15,000 chill pallet spaces, in addition to considerable marshalling space for a significant cross docking operation.
CML had experienced rapid growth following a management buyout in 2009 and a joint venture with Culina Group in 2014. It is an approved Aldi Logistics Platform and handle Specials, Ambient, Frozen and Chill, including short shelf life chill (Pick to zero – PTZ). CML delivers to all Aldi RDCs in the UK and Ireland daily. It is also a member of the Charter Institute of Logistics, UKWA, RHA, BSC and is BRC accredited.
Rapid Expansion: Cross dock operation volumes had grown rapidly from an average of 2,000 pallets, to an average of 7,000 pallets, per night. A busy night could result in excess of over 9,000 pallets. Stock movements ran from around 5.00pm to 2.00am and there could up to 1,000 pallets being receipted, checked, labelled, cross docked, loaded and despatched per hour.
In most cases, suppliers did not provide any adequate pallet labels able to be scanned, nor any electronic ASN’s (Advanced Shipping Notifications). There were also demands from the business, customers, and BRC, etc. for complete forward and backwards traceability of every pallet entering the network.
Cross Dock challenge: The biggest challenge was how to, not only implement a process that could manage the volumes being cross docked in order to deliver both control and traceability, but to also deliver this without affecting the required operation speed. As suppliers continually changed, any solution needed to accommodate and facilitate continually changing suppliers.
Lack of consistent labelling: This, and an inability to get suppliers to send an ASN in advance, coupled with the high volumes and exceptionally narrow time windows, presented a considerable challenge – How to control the operation with no system controlled Goods In process? Principal Logistics Technologies did have one piece of the jigsaw though – the delivery orders per RDC by supplier. The speed of the operation prevented many of the proposed solutions to work so what we trialled, and eventually went live with, was somewhat clever.
Prior to the arrival of any Goods In load we would pre-print pallet labels by supplier based on outbound delivery orders in In-DEX WMS Warehouse Management Software, which we had. Good In loads were received by supplier, albeit over numerous vehicles, operators would visually check the inbound pallets and apply the appropriate pre-printed pallet labels.
Once labelled, operators would scan the applied pallet label on their handheld terminal. From this single scan we had In-DEX WMS Warehouse Management System perform multiple functions automatically. Firstly, it would create, within In-DEX WMS, the Goods In, and then it would confirm its receipt. Finally, the system would look up pending goods out for this product and direct the operator to cross dock the pallet to the relevant loading bay.
“The Solution really was impressive. While we needed the controls and traceability, the operation required the speed and volumes to be maintained. Our ability to dictate labelling and ASN files to our customer’s suppliers was never going to occur. This solution really does give us all the traceability and controls with minimal impact on speed. With the remaining parts of 3PL operation receipting, storage picking was standard functionality for In-DEX WMS and provides us with so much control and KPI information that it really has helped us grow.”
Operations Director, CML Fulfilment & Logistics
CML subsequently used In-DEX WMS Warehouse Management Software to create pallet labels and automatically email these to its suppliers – based on the delivery orders per RDC which they had. This meant that suppliers were able to apply the pallet labels which were received against when the physical pallets arrive, speeding up the process further.
“The lack of consistent labelling and the inability to get suppliers to send an ASN in advance coupled with the high volumes & exceptionally narrow time windows really did throw up a challenge. How could you control the operation with no system controlled goods in process? We did have one piece of the jigsaw – the delivery orders per RDC by supplier. The speed of the operation prevented many of the proposed solutions to work so what we trialled, and put live, was somewhat clever.”
Peter Flanagan, Managing Director, Principal Logistics Technologies