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A warehouse management system is quite simply a software tool designed to help warehouses run every aspect of their daily routine in a more efficient manner. Efficiency is crucial in the warehousing industry, as it has become the backbone of almost every country’s supply chain. Without proper implementation of strategies for storing and moving goods, supply chains can grind to a halt.

Implementing a warehouse management system helps warehouses run smoothly. It also reduces the waste of ineffective and inefficient practices and strategies in the warehouse. Read below to learn more.

What is a Warehouse Management System (WMS)?

Simply put, it is software designed to help warehouses run faster and smarter. Using this software, businesses can monitor warehouse inventory and stock locations both in-house and on-truck, allowing them to more accurately assess their stock, availability, sales, and more. The system also allows for faster customer service because everything is available at the touch of a button. Other aspects of warehousing improved by a warehouse management system are:

  • Billing
  • Re-order management
  • Delivery
  • Cash, credit, and multi-payment
  • Text, email, spreadsheet, and other information platforms

Related: How Much Do Warehousing Services Cost?

When Should a Warehouse Management System Be Considered?

Warehouses are the lifeblood of any economy, and as such, there can be no room for error. A warehouse that is consistently behind or sluggish in any way will see businesses taking their warehousing needs elsewhere. To that end, it’s important to realize when it’s time to upgrade to a warehouse management system. If you have any of these issues, it’s time to make a change.

  • Inability to quickly fill shipping orders
  • Inability to quickly and efficiently locate product
  • Increased instance of incorrect product being shipped
  • Incorrect or duplicate records
  • Boxes and paperwork piling up
  • Missing product

Ready to move on? You can click here to book a demo with our team.

Why Should a Warehouse Management System Be Considered?

All of the above reasons that tell you it’s time to consider a warehouse management system are also the reasons that it is so important to have one in place. An inefficient warehouse is a warehouse that will cost your business money and time. As industry, supply, and demand grow, so too does the demand for warehouses that run smoothly and with minimal issues.

What is the Importance of a Warehouse Management System?

In a broad sense, it keeps your warehouse running smoothly. A warehouse management system helps every aspect of a warehouse run smoothly, moving more products. This can save you money and make your business more efficient.

Manage Multiple Warehouses or Subsections

A good system allows you to purchase, receive, stock, and fulfill orders on inventory across multiple warehouses and subsections.

Detailed Warehouse Reports

Reports that always keep you up-to-date on your exact inventory for every product stored and shipped.

Pick and Pack Lists

Pick and pack shipments individually or in bulk with quickly generated lists.

Easy Shipping

Easily print shipping labels for your local shipping company with stored shipping information.

First In, First Out (FIFO)

Allows for products entering inventory first to be sold first, with each batch of products having their own price and cost reports.

Exchange and Return Management

Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of warehouse management, a good warehouse management system, should make it easy to quickly process exchanges and returns.

What is the Best Warehouse Management System for Your Business?

There are many excellent warehouse management systems on the market, so the answer to this question is: it depends on the size of your business. If you are a huge enterprise with multiple warehouses then you need a system that can handle your needs. If you are a small to medium-sized business, take a look at TQS Fusion WMS Software.

“WMS is not new to the community,” says Gene Su, chief technology officer of TQS Logistics, who developed TQS Fusion WMS Software. “But what I tried to do is build a system that improved on usability and is also easy to use.”

TQS Fusion WMS is efficient and operates on mobile devices like tablets. Whereas many traditional WMS rely on Legacy platforms with scanners and other costly equipment, this system is built for current needs of businesses.

The TQS Fusion system is efficient and less expensive than many others. It’s also user friendly and easy to implement.

“We are not targeting enterprises here, but small to medium-sized business that can’t afford to spend millions.”

No matter what warehouse management system you choose, you’ll want one with these four main components:

  • Inventory Control – For ensuring proper logging and reduced loss.
  • Product Movement – To accurately track your product.
  • Software Integration – For easy transfer over to your new system.
  • Multiple Device Support – To ensure that you and your employees have the flexibility to continually be in the loop on what’s happening with both the warehouse and its inventory.

Warehouse Management System Cost

Again, this is subjective and varies from warehouse to warehouse. For example, a warehouse that does $100 million in yearly revenue will have a higher warehouse management system cost than one that does $2 million in yearly revenue. In general, the rule of thumb is to estimate 15% to 30% of monthly labour cost as the cost of a warehouse management system.

The TQS Fusion WMS system was designed with users in mind. Ultimately that makes TQS Fusion WMS extremely user friendly. The goal was to provide a system that’s accessible on tablet. Su indicates not every company has millions to spend on WMS.

Implementing a Warehouse Management System

Now that we’ve covered warehouse management systems and why they’re needed, let’s discuss the basic steps of implementing the system.

Expectations

The ideal warehouse management system increases productivity and efficiency across the board without endangering employee jobs. A good warehouse management professional will help you implement a system that satisfies all parties, increases return on investment, and doesn’t cost employees their livelihoods.

Risk Reduction

While integrating the warehouse management system, it’s important to manage and reduce risks stemming from the implementation. Look for a team with extensive knowledge of multiple warehouse scenarios, as no two warehouses are the same.

Business Review

At the outset of implementation, there will be a thorough review of the business to assess warehouse functions, as well as any issues that are causing bottlenecks and other roadblocks.

Scheduling System Implementation

To ensure timely system implementation with minimal headaches, a good warehouse management system team will have a schedule in place, which is both timely and flexible, allowing for the fastest implementation possible with the least amount of opportunity for project derailment.

Team Building

A good warehouse management system has two teams: an implementation team and a client warehouse executive team. When team building, be sure that personalities and system styles work well together to reduce any friction down the line.

Design

An optimal warehouse management system is built with future flexibility in mind. A good system should never be so rigid that it cannot be tweaked as industry standards evolve.

Training

Training is crucial to the successful implementation of a warehouse management system. As the system is installed and integrated, it’s key to train everyone in its use. While time-consuming, it’s the only way to get the most out of the system.

Data

Implementing a new system requires transferring the old database to the new system. Correct transference is key. That often requires adding missing data and modifying data to fit the new system.

Testing

During this phase, real warehouse data will be used in multiple tests across the system. This ensures accurate recording of everything from stock to price.

Deployment

This is when it gets real. On the agreed-upon date a snapshot of the warehouse data is uploaded to the database of the new warehouse management system, and the warehouse begins using its new system. In some instances, the warehouse may use both the new and old systems in tandem for a certain period of time to ensure accuracy as the changeover is implemented.

A Reliable Warehouse Management System is Crucial to Success

These days, a good warehouse management system is crucial to the success of any warehouse. With supply and demand increasing all the time, no warehouse can afford botched shipping or inventory loss.

If you haven’t upgraded to a warehouse management system yet, do it before you are left behind. These days, it’s essential.

Give us a call today to learn more about TQS Fusion WMS system.

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Freight shipping is one of the biggest industries in the world. Unless you are using products bought in your immediate area, then freight shipping has probably touched your life, either as a consumer or a business. In the world of shipping and logistics there are two primary terms you will hear repeatedly – LTL and FTL- Less Than Truck Load and Full Truck Load.

For the purposes of this post we are discussing freight, types of freight shipping, costs, a few hidden fees you might not know about and also benefits of the different types of shipping.

Freight

What exactly is freight? Freight refers to larger quantities of goods that exceed the normal parcel size, or weight, handled by common carriers. Goods are ordered into boxes, loaded on pallets, and moved using various modes of transportation. By contrast, parcels are small, lightweight individual shipments that can be handled by common carriers like the UPS, FedEx, Canada Post or US Parcel Service.

Truckload freight includes all freight shipments that occupy a trailer. These are large volume or weight shipments from point to point. Weight limits depend on the weight of the vehicle and local laws, but typically are around 34,000 – 45,000 lbs. in the US. The most typical truckload shipments are transported via dry van, flatbed, and refrigerated trailers.

Is Freight a key aspect of your Logistics Management? TQS assists you in building a logistics plan that fits the needs of your business.
Click here to get started.

Shipping Terms:

The terms themselves are relatively self-explanatory.

Less Than Truck Load is a freight term meaning the shipment will not take up the entire space inside the truck, leaving some portion of the truck space unused.

Full Truck Load means the opposite. The truck space is maximized by the shipment. All the space is used efficiently.

Beyond those two mainstays there are also couriers, UPS and other providers mostly used for ecommerce shipping and shipping small parcels.

There are clear benefits to both major types of over the road shipping.

First, let’s discuss LTL.

The pros and cons of Less Than Truck Load have been written about quite frequently. But this post strives to be a comprehensive, current resource on LTL and FTL freight shipping.

Basically, LTL is a carrier mode which bridges the gap between Full Truck Load (or FTL, such as semi trucks), and the last-mile parcel delivery carriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and your postal service. Typically LTL shipments serve a shorter range than long-haul semi truck lines, and are also commonly the final shipping step between distribution centers and retail locations.

The Facts About LTL

LTL is a necessity for many manufacturers and retailers. In fact a majority of shipments that go out are LTL. The sole aim of LTL shipping is to provide an optimal balance between speed, efficiency, and cost for mid-sized shipments.

What are the Benefits of LTL? 

Quite simply LTL can save you money. How? Well, because many consignments of multiple users can be shipped in one vehicle in Less Than Truck Load shipping, freight charges can be shared for similar destinations. Full Truck Load is exclusive, meaning one shipment takes up the entire truck and it travels from A to B directly.

If you have a large vehicle and your consignments are small, you can club these with others.  The type of shipment, fragility, chemical reactivity etc., must be considered while bundling up the different consignments.

What Challenges Can You Expect with LTL?

Transit time for LTL takes longer than Full Truck Load. Less Than Truck Load carries multiple shipments and the loading and unloading of each shipment requires time. If time is an issue LTL can be challenging because of the number of variables involved in Less Than Truck Load. Your delivery window can be missed. However, if savings are significant enough, extra time taken for delivery might be a trade off worth making.

LTL freight is more of a hub and spoke system.  There might be one or two skids picked up and often the price differential is worth it but you can’t discard potential for damage. Another factor you need to consider is service area of the shipping company. Because there are multiple stops and the truck space is being shared there’s also more handling involved and potential for damage to product. Less Than Truck Load mode is more vulnerable to theft as well. This is due to multiple handling and multiple stops for loading and unloading.

However, as already mentioned, with LTL you can get a lot of cost savings, especially when you’re shipping less than six skids. However, if you’re shipping more than that, it makes more sense to go with a different arrangement with the carrier, maybe that’s a full truckload.

While businesses might want to ship via LTL in order to save money they need to also keep in mind the service area. For instance, some carriers don’t go to Western Canada or even Northern Ontario areas. Other factors to ask about include the equipment type. Service via a flatbed truck or a straight truck can change the delivery process and also complicate unloading.

Tavis Valentine spent 8 years as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Kingsway Transport, one of the leading carriers in Canada. In 2013 Tavis started his own firm (Valentine International), where he offers his expertise and knowledge to businesses with logistical and supply chain challenge. Valentine advises that knowing your own freight characteristics, needs and limitations is important.

Multimodal shipments are as they sound, those that involve multiple different types of freight providers. That can come into play where geographic restrictions are a factor. So, if a company providing LTL shipping can only deliver part of the distance and the remainder has to go by train. That’s multi-modal shipping.

Questions you need to ask yourself: 

Beyond the basics of time and distance and cost there are often other factors and variables to consider when choosing how to ship freight and which company to trust the job to, according to Valentine.

What is the corporate culture and mandate? How important is the environmental footprint to the company shipping? While it might be slower to ship by rail, if the freight delivery would take 200 truckloads then the environmental footprint would be lower using the train.

Packaging 

Shipper’s responsibilities with LTL

Well before a shipment is loaded onto a truck and sent to its destination, it must be prepared for shipment. That’s the shipper’s job. Failure to consider best practices can result in bottlenecks, which could cost your business money.  Measure the length, width and height of your shipment. Accurately measurements are helpful to carriers and this allows for a more accurate freight quote.

LTL freight dimensions are used to maximize capacity. It is one of the most important factors used to determine how much freight will fit on the truck.

Freight is often handled many times with LTL shipping. Properly packaged goods can be protected from bumps, drops and the adjacent freight along the way. Shippers load their goods onto pallets or crates and heavier items are placed on the bottom. Heavier items go on the bottom of the pallets or crates and lighter on the top.  Properly packaged goods are protected goods.

Proper labels need to go on the shipment so handlers know how to treat the shipment. If it can’t be stacked label with: “Do Not Stack,” “Fragile.” Accurate labels can help your shipment reach its destination in tact.

LTL shippers should also have documentation and dimensions in hand once their shipments are properly packaged and labeled for the carrier.

FTL

The vast majority of manufacturers use a combination of delivery modes, and are constantly refining and auditing their shipping logistics. Virtually all LTL carriers charge fees similarly to FTL carriers; the best rates will be offered to shipments of the highest density (weight per volume) and lowest susceptibility to damage and theft.

The benefits of Full Truckload are also clear. When a full truckload is being shipped to one single destination the timing can be narrowed down with a higher degree of accuracy. Shipping time doesn’t take as long and there is lower likelihood of damage as there’s less handling of the products being shipped. The cost of a Full Truckload shipment can be higher than LTL.

Other Factors to Consider:

If your freight is delicate, large in size and you need a quick delivery then FTL is your most suitable method of transit. If your freight is limited or pocket sized, robust and you are not bound by time limits then LTL makes more sense as the mode of transit.

A number of accessory services are available from LTL carriers, which are not typically offered by FTL carriers. For instance, optional services can include: lift-gate service at pickup or delivery; residential (also known as “non-commercial”); service at pickup or delivery, inside delivery, notification prior to delivery, freeze protection, and others. 

Costs:

Parcel pricing

Parcel pricing is determined by dimensional weight or the actual weight. Typically parcels are picked up daily. FedEx and UPS limit parcel shipments to 150 lbs. and 165″ in length plus girth. Anything larger becomes a freight shipment.

Freight pricing

We’ve already established that the main advantage to using an LTL carrier is cost.  Freight that shares a truck with other shipments can be transported for a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire truck and trailer for FTL. But how is cost calculated and what factors impact that fee?

Freight pricing is determined by a number of factors including route distance, fuel costs, density, weight, freight class, special handling requirements, timeframe, and lane balances as well as numerous other factors. Shipments are arranged with a carrier. Arrangements include how the freight is to be loaded, how long it will take in transport, if a lift gate is needed, and other necessary pieces of information to facilitate the delivery.

Since 2012 billing has shifted to dimensional weight, also referred to as cube weight measurements, to increase efficiency of loading LTL trucks. Price per 100-weight is common in the LTL world. Some will charge a pallet weight if discussed.

With Full Truckload charges tend to be a per mile rate.

Is Freight a key aspect of your Logistics Management? TQS delivers logistics plans that fit the needs of businesses just like yours.
Click here to get started.

A Few Basics Things You Need to Consider:

Travel Distance – The longer the distance, the higher the cost.

Freight Class – The higher the freight class, the higher the price per pound.

Freight Density – The higher the density, the lower the price per pound.

Travel Speed – LTL carriers offer time definite and guaranteed services and assess a premium charge for such services.

Lane Balances – LTL carriers do not necessarily operate trucks that are fully loaded in all directions.

Fuel Costs – The higher the cost of fuel, the higher the cost. This can show up as a fuel surcharge.

Shipment Weight – Price decreases to a certain point, for single pallet, but will begin to increase as you near load limits.

Timeframe – An expedited or express service will increase prices.

Special Requests – Does the shipment require a lift gate, residential delivery, or refrigeration? Is it hazardous material requiring special handling? These will all add extra fees and charges.

These are some of the factors that go into pricing, but individual carriers often have their own methods and formulas for determining pricing.

Tips From An Expert:

Other things to Consider when choosing a carrier are: Technology; Service Quality and Damage Free Records.

Technology: 

Valentine notes that technological capabilities are a factor for some. Some companies offer extras such as track and trace. That allows the shipper to be able to follow the shipment and see where it is at certain points. Not all have this and some companies have been late to adopt technology. But if that’s important to you know that this is often an extra.

Full Truckload pricing can fluctuate a little more, especially as the Canadian dollar falls.  When the Canadian dollar is low the cost to ship to the US increases. LTL tends to be stable and pricing can be contracted for a year.

All carriers should have damage free records. You can ask to see proof of damage free records because all carriers should be keeping accurate records of damage claims made.

“If you are only looking at cost there’s something you are compromising on,” says Valentine.

Look beyond the rate sheet. It doesn’t always tell the full story, according to Valentine. Lift gate fees can be added if you don’t have access to a dock for instance. Look at the full cost.

Backhaul

In trucking, another way to save or make money and maximize your efficiency is doing backhaul. Backhaul is hauling cargo back from point B to the point of origin. Driving a truck back empty can cost almost as much as it would cost to run fully loaded. This helps to pay for the operating expenses for the return trip for the trucking company or trucker. Backhauls are an important part of the logistics industry because they provide a valuable service. Carriers typically call on freight brokers to provide loads back home, backhauls, in an effort to save time and money.  Typically freight brokers negotiate a reduced per mile freight rate which allows brokers to earn a profit for the service. One of the best places to look for a backhaul is on a load board, or an online site/forum matching freight for backhaul with carriers.

A Shipping Challenge We Resolved

One of our clients at TQS is a great example of a shipping challenge turned success story. The client was shipping large bumpers for the trucks that were actually transporting the product. Since they were going LTL and they product was fragile, they were unfortunately also getting damaged in handling.

So what was the solution? Well, we advised them to hold their orders for a week and then every week there would be a standing appointment of a full trailer that was going to arrive and pick up the product and ship it out to the end destination. Now there was a little bit of compromise on the leadtime, but this was less important than making sure their product arrived there not damaged.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH LTL or FTL SHIPPING

If LTL or FTL sounds like it may benefit you, the best way to get started is to consult with a shipping logistics coordinator like TQS Logistics.

Learning the complexities of shipping modes, disparate carriers, tariffs, intermodal transportation, and international shipping could be a full-time job. We work closely with you to achieve the most timely and cost-effective shipping solutions, without the headache. During your initial consultation with us, we will help you gather critical information for the optimization of your shipment. Click here to get started.


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Have you ever stocked your shelves and wondered, “Why am I always ordering this product?” This is why Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) is a key aspect of procurement. Economic order quantity is basically a formula to ensure you are ordering the proper amount of stock at the right point in time.

Some people new to the role may purchase an amount of product that they feel a company requires now. However, experienced purchasers also anticipate and predict demand. They will purchase items that are required over a year to three years. On average companies tend to save about 5 to 10% in this area. By doing purchasing this way companies can also save up to 50% on their sourcing

Economic Order Quantity Simplified:

What does economic order quantity account for?

EOQ = √(2*K*D / H)

Above is the economic order quantity formula used. For some, myself included, this looks like an entirely new language.

To make this formula even easier for you we made an excel template that will calculate EOQ for you. To download our EOQ excel template please click here.

So let’s break it down:

First is the yearly demand (D). This is how much of a specific product your company will need. Now you may not want to do it over a yearly basis as some companies do it over 2 to 3 years, depending on perishability and depreciation.

The next factor is setup cost (K). K stands for a number of factors, but mostly shipping and handling.

Next is holding cost (H), or how much it costs to warehouse and store the product. For a full understanding of what this may cost you read our article here.

Q tells us exactly how many we should order of the specific product.

How can I start to implement this in my business?

Part of this exercise is finding the re-order point, or the stock level that triggers the need to order more of said product/supply. In the EOQ model, one assumption is that no safety stock is held. This can be risky because if demand is not constant backorders/shortages may occur. However, if demand is very consistent there is no need to hold safety stock, which is a lean concept. Below is the formula to calculate the reorder point.

Reorder Point

RO Point = D * ( L / WD )

Demand (D) (see above for elaboration – how much of a specific product your company will need)

L equals the lead time, measured in days. One of the things economic order quantity also accounts for is the time it takes to receive a product. This is important for timing, but also so that product doesn’t sell out, which leads to lost revenue. Many customers will not wait for backorders to be filled.

WD equals working days in a year.

Understanding Economic Order Quantity is Vital for Business

EOQ is a key part of cost accounting, but it also affects procurement and logistics. To download our EOQ excel template please click here.

For more insight into logistics, operations, and procurement planning; submit your requirements and TQS will build you a business plan.


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Shipping and storage of your products don’t have to be a challenge!

  My team and I at ThreePL Quality Systems want to take a load off your mind and help you manage the fulfillment of products to your customers. From warehouse services, cross docking to general logistics, we have over 18 years of experience working and managing supply chain and logistics for clients in the automotive industry, retail, furniture, ecommerce, and others! By having us take care of this time-consuming but important part of your business, you will have more time to fry those bigger fish you’ve been working on! Still not quite sure of what we can offer you? We made a short video to illustrate who we are, what we do and how we help! If this caught your eye and you are interested to learn more, let’s book a discovery call! You can schedule up to an hour in my calendar using the button below and we can go over requirements for shipping services, etc. Our goal is to improve your customer loyalty and repeat orders, but to do that we have to stay true to your company’s vision. This call will ensure we do that, click below to book a meeting:   Thanks for your time, I look forward to learning more about your business. Best, Matthew Mattice VP Sales & Marketing ThreePL Quality Systems Inc. P.S. – If you’re interested but don’t think this is the time for you, we are holding a webinar on Thursday, April 5th. Click here to signup.