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Linking the Supply Chain Seamlessly

By writer (350 words)
Posted in CoreWarehouse News on April 12, 2013

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We get more calls from our 3PL customers asking how they can eliminate re-entering orders than almost anything else.  Orders stream in via fax, phone, email and EDI, all destined for the warehouse and all with tight order-to ship windows.

If you operate with tight order-to ship windows (do you ship orders same day if received before a cutoff time?), getting the orders to the warehouse floor as quickly (and accurately) as possible is critical.  Lets look at the traditional steps in non-automated order processing:

  1. Your customer enters the order in their ERP system.
  2. The customer prints the order and faxes it to you.
  3. The order sits on the fax machine once received until someone sees it there and picks it up.
  4. It's put in an order entry clerk's inbox and queued for entry.
  5. The order is entered, double checked, and allocated.

One study we did for a busy 3PL found that these steps took 45 minutes on average.  They were accepting orders up until 12:00pm for 5:00pm delivery.  A full 15% of their 5 hour order fullfillment window was being used to acquire the order and make it ready to send to the floor!

For this customer, we implemented an order transformation process to streamline these steps:

  1. Their customer enters the order in their ERP system.
  2. The customer emails the order as a .pdf attachment to a designated mailbox.
  3. Within 3 minutes, the order is picked up from the mailbox, converted into the correct format, and placed in the system for processing.
  4. The order entry clerk receives an email indicating that the order has been received and is ready for allocation.

 The updated time to process an order?  1-4 minutes.  The 40+ minutes that they recaptured are now available for qc checking of the outbound orders or other value-added processes.

The upshot?  The long-term cost for acquiring the order went from $1.82 to $.30 due to labor savings, accuracy improvement in the order taking process and fewer misships.

This doesn't just apply to order processing.  Purchase orders, ASNs and Shipment Confirmations can all be automated in a similar manner.  Give us a call if you need more details or to talk about streamlining your processes.

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