WithoutWire™ Partial Picking – Minimizing the Impact of Changing Sales Orders

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At what point do you freeze sales orders so that they can be picked?  If your organization is dealing with the constant struggle between giving customers flexibility and operating an efficient warehouse, the WithoutWire™ (WoW) WMS functionality can be a powerful tool enabling the best of both worlds. 

Picking methods cannot be completely decoupled from your sales order patterns.  So let’s look at some of the most common order patterns:

     1.       Perhaps the simplest is when an order is entered, you pick from stock and backorder the unavailable items.  Very labor and time efficient for the first pass, but very inefficient in labor and shipping costs as many picks and shipments are often required to complete a single order.

      2.       Next in complexity is 100% order fill, meaning you don’t send the order to the warehouse floor until all required inventory is available.  The picker makes one pass and ships complete.  Very labor efficient, but can put a strain on customer satisfaction as they wait for the products' arrival.

      3.       A manufacturer has a bit more control and may choose made-to-order or made-to-stock.  In either approach, unless raw materials are constrained, fulfillment occurs at a relatively high rate and picking can be optimized for labor performance and shipping efficiency.

Often our companies are dependent upon multiple variables such as supplier in-transit time, raw material or supply shortages, overseas container fulfillment to optimize shipping costs, and the Client’s need to adjust to changes in sales orders.  Our companies often address requirements around 100% fill rates, extremely short lead times,  complex lot and serial tracking for recall efficiency, and international rules and regulations, dealing with duty, carrier, and freight costs.

These types of variables are frequent and real.  They can make paper tracking virtually impossible.  Complexity from advanced allocation, inventory stock-out reporting and lot tracked picking in a multi- bin environment drive requirements for Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) such as the Appolis WithoutWire™ (WoW) solution for Microsoft Dynamics GP, NAV, AX and SL.

Partial Picking, a powerful new feature in WoW, allows adaptability in 3 key scenarios:

      1.       Optimize Customer satisfaction by minimizing backorders and stock-outs with limited supply.  

                WoW Partial Picking allows picking, sequence flexibility as incremental inventory arrives.


     2.  Minimize shipping costs by maximizing overseas container loads. 

                WoW Partial Picking allows order pre-pick through container splitting logic, and brings visibility to remaining space to fill within an overseas container.


     3.  Optimize resources even during spikes in demand due to promotions or seasonality.  

               WoW Partial Picking allows you to work ahead of the final order cut-off, by picking the bulk (~80%) of the order and staging.  This is followed by a refined pick (with quantity changes up and down) which completes the order for shipment resulting in more efficient use of your labor resources.


Customer satisfaction may be a quality differentiator for your organization to provide a competitive edge.  Sometimes it is your customer’s customer who modifies their order quantities as they react to the dynamics of their industry.  Most industries today require Just-In-Time (JIT) or near JIT to compete.  By helping companies avoid overstock situations, you help them compete and can drive customer loyalty, increase market share, and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Here is a real-life example of one of our Clients today in the wine distribution industry:

A key constraint for our Client is that products need to be shipped during moderate temperatures.  Orders might be picked and staged during a hot summer, only to wait for up to 30 days until the extreme temperatures subside, to be shipped to their destination.   Adds and removals can occur during that 30 day wait … so the flexibility required for their customers means Partial Picking flexibility within our WoW system will drive Customer Satisfaction up in the most efficient way for our Client.  WoW Partial Picking handles the ups and downs in order quantities even after staging the initial pick.  WoW tracks these changes in real-time back to the Microsoft Dynamics ERP system for fast and accurate invoicing!

By Steve Dwyer

Appolis Vice President of Sales and Marketing


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