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The trend toward individualization continues and with it the differentiation and diversity of the products and services on offer. This development presents the logistics industry – and the area of order picking in particular – with big challenges. Abbas Jamalian, chief software developer at Kardex Software GmbH, outlines the potential offered by software here.
What can software do to increase productivity, reduce costs, and enhance flexibility in the warehouse and in the area of order picking?
Abbas Jamalian: In warehouses we are confronted with key issues such as saving space, increasing throughput, and guaranteeing picking quality. Such tasks couldn’t be accomplished without software, because we are concerned with making them cost-efficient.
Could you explain that in a little more detail?
Jamalian: Let’s take the example of dynamic storage and retrieval systems. Before storing goods, software on such machines identifies the carrier whose height best suits the item to be stored. There is also the subject of throughput and quality, where automated monitoring and goods retrieval systems help. Software-assisted solutions also improve safety and reliability here.
What concerns companies most in the area of intralogistics?
Jamalian: They all find themselves undergoing a continuous optimization process, where the subject of integration is very important, because they are only able to optimize the overall process if all the sub-processes are linked. In the course of doing so, those in charge of the operation are moving away from isolated solutions. As such, new warehouse management systems (WMS) must have functioning interfaces with the old systems. WMS software is connected to the ERP systems, but also to the technology used in the storage and retrieval systems. WMS software thus links two worlds – ERP management and traditional storage.
A growing number of single and small orders are being received by order pickers. Which strategies can help here?
Jamalian: We respond to the impact of this altered ordering behavior among end consumers and in industry with many different storage technologies, software modules, and order picking strategies. Batch picking, for instance, consolidates several orders into one batch so that order pickers can save time by picking them one after the other. With multi-user picking we support strategies which involve several pickers sharing the work flexibly at a picking station during peak times. The “Fast Parts Delivery” application has also been available for a little while, which has predefined, scalable solutions for the warehouse and distribution sector in particular.
You developed the Power Pick Global WMS yourself. What can this software package do?
Jamalian: It is part of the new software generation. We worked in a development team spread across the world so that we could take country-specific features into consideration. Power Pick Global demonstrates its real strength in the area of order picking, that is to say all things related to automatic storage units and order picking. In addition, the WMS software embraces the entire chain with typical core functions such as warehouse structure, standard storage and relocation, stocktaking, and retrieval. But the software package also provides additional functions such as charge and serial number management, shelf life management, the option to store goods in more than one warehouse, kit handling, and more besides. It supports many different end devices and thus a wide range of user interfaces.
Between which ERP systems does your WMS software have interfaces?
Jamalian: We not only offer flexible interfaces between SAP, Microsoft Navision, and Oracle, but also virtually all other ERP systems.