Some Opinion about Intelligent Warehouse

 How to transit from "traditional warehouse" to "intelligent warehouse". From many cases, warehouse management has become the core link of supply chain management.This is because storage is always at the junction of logistics, such as between procurement and production, between primary processing and finishing processing, between production and sales, between wholesale and retail, between different modes of transport and so on.Warehousing is the manifestation of imbalanced between each link of logistics, and warehousing is also the means to solve this imbalanced.

Warehousing centralize all contradictions in the integration of upstream and downstream processes. Warehousing management is to realize the integration of logistics processes.If using the language of operations research to describe the position of warehouse management in logistics, it can be said that under the circumstance that transportation conditions are binding, to seek the optimal inventory plan as a control means, so as to achieve the goal of the lowest cost of logistics.In many specific cases, the integration and optimization of logistics actually comes down to the scheme design and operation control of storage.

The biggest difference between traditional logistics and modern logistics is also reflected in the inventory. The traditional warehousing industry is based on the business model of collecting storage fees, hoping that their warehouses are always full, which runs counter to the purpose of logistics.Modern logistics takes the integration of processes and coordination of upstream and downstream as its own responsibility. The less static inventory, the better situation it is . Its business model is also based on the assessment of total logistics costs.

Since these two types of warehouse management have essential differences in business models, but it is difficult to distinguish them in specific operations such as warehousing, delivery, sorting and so on, the analysis and research must pay attention to their similarities and differences, which will also be reflected in the structure of the information system.

Main Contents of Warehouse Management

The content of warehouse management should include three parts: layout design of warehouse system, optimal control of inventory, and warehouse operation.These are three levels of problems that are related to each other.

Storage system layout is the top-level design and the core of supply chain design.It is a transformation for a complex and chaotic logistics system into a mode of "trunk transportation + regional distribution" through the layout design of the hub, which is a distribution center based on warehouse.In the design of the corresponding information system, it is shown as the mode of "linking warehouse management", which is divided into three types: centralized, distributed and mixed. Among them, the selection and design of distribution center is the key of the whole system layout.This part is usually not included in the storage information system WMS, but the adaptability and universality of layout design changes will also become an important basis for customers to choose WMS.

Inventory is to determine the optimal control part of the business model of the warehouse, namely to (according to the requirements of a layer design) determine the management goal and the management pattern of the warehouse, if it is an executive in the supply chain link, is a cost center, with the aim to control service quality, operating costs more, the pursuit of reasonable inventory even zero inventory.

If it is a profit center with independent accounting, it is a completely different target and management mode. In addition to service quality and operating cost, it is more concerned about profit accounting. Therefore, billing system and customer relationship management become an extremely important part of it, because they solidify marketing strategies and strategies in the billing system.

Warehouse operation is the most basic part, and it is also the most common part of all WMS. Because of this, the operation information part of warehouse operation has become a symbol of the difference between WMS and other management software, such as purchase, sales and storage, ERP, etc.This part should not only be implemented into the operation process according to the control objectives and management mode determined by the previous layer, but also be connected with the automatic control system of many special storage equipment, so it is the most complex part technically.

Application of WMS in China

Warehouse management system (WMS) is a specific form of warehouse management informatization, its application in China is still at the beginning stage.At present, China's market presents a dual structure: the high-end market represented by multinational companies or a few domestic advanced enterprises has a relatively high proportion of WMS application, and the system is relatively concentrated in the mainstream brands that are basically mature foreign brands;The low and middle end market represented by domestic enterprises mainly applies WMS products developed in China.Based on a case experience in the field of logistics for many years, the following part analyzes the general situation of enterprise WMS from the perspective of application

The first type is the application system based on the typical distribution center business. Such cases can be seen in sales logistics, such as the distribution center of supermarket chain, and supply logistics, such as the spare parts distribution center of manufacturing enterprises.Such as a pharmaceutical company’s modern logistics center is a typical example.

System functions include purchase management, inventory management, order management, selection, review, distribution, RF terminal management, basic information management of goods and goods location and other functional modules;By means of networking and digitization, the control level and task arrangement in the library can be improved.The system has reduced delivery times by 50 percent and more than doubled order processing capacity.Such systems are mostly used in supply chain management in manufacturing or distribution industries, and are the most common type in WMS.

The second is the integration of warehousing technology as the main goal of the system to solve the integration and optimization of various automation equipment information systems.The production logistics information system of a hot rolling factory are belonging to this category. This system mainly solves the problem of coordinated operation between raw material warehouse (billet), semi-finished warehouse (rough-rolled medium and thick plate) and finished product warehouse (fine-rolled sheet). Otherwise, continuous operation cannot be maintained, which not only reduces productivity, but also wastes energy.

The difficulty of the system lies in the connection between the logistics system and each automatic equipment system of the rolling production line, so that the inventory becomes a flow link of the assembly line, and the assembly line becomes a component of the inventory operation.All kinds of special equipment have their own information system. WMS should not only integrate the equipment system, but also the process system,and integrate into the overall enterprise information system into a larger scope.The process involved in this kind of system is relatively standardized and professional, and most of them appear in large ERP systems and become an important part.

The third kind of application system focuses on the management decision of the storage industry. Its distinctive system can do flexible accounting, accurate and timely accounting and fully functional customer management, providing decision support information for the storage industry.This kind of system is mostly used in some enterprises that provide public warehouse storage service. Its process management and storage operation have many technical commonalities, so the requirements are not high, and it is suitable to provide common services for most customers.After adopting a set of WMS suitable for its own characteristics, the company has reduced labor costs, improved warehouse utilization and significantly increased economic benefits.

The three types of WMS described above are only simple classifications from an application perspective.The first type of WMS comparison standard, but not all enterprises can use it all at once.The second type is often used in the development process of enterprise internal logistics. When production enterprises or commercial enterprises promote their informatization, the logistics part usually starts from automation and then integrates with other enterprise information systems.The third category is the traditional warehousing enterprises to modern logistics industry in the process of transition often see the situation.These classifications of WMS reflect the current situation that China's logistics demand is not very mature, so they have their own use.

Development trend of WMS

From the development trend of the global, there are some noteworthy characteristics, which may reflect the trend of warehouse management and WMS development.

First, with the integration of logistics resources, in the process of network construction, the relationship between centralized mode and decentralized mode of warehouse management in large logistics network is put forward.In practical application, there are centralized and decentralized warehouses.The former includes state grain reserve system and the latter includes the distribution centre of supermarket chains.

Decentralization and centralization have their own market demand, it seems that there is no problem of which is better than the other.But recent studies show that most complex systems in nature are composed of simple systems combined in a "distributed" mode.Thus, concentration is always relative, while dispersion is absolute.When we build a large system model, distributed systems are the foundation.The idea of the technical solution becomes how to solve the difficulties of centralized management on the basis of distributed warehouse network.

Secondly, the new technology represented by RFID is profoundly affecting warehouse management and WMS, and even breeds a "logistics revolution".In the logistics link, RFID technology can be applied to vehicles, containers, pallets, shelves and other equipment to improve the level of logistics management.Therefore, we expect that RFID of logistics equipment and barcode of goods may be a practical way to explore the application and promotion of RFID in WMS in the future.