Warehouse Tracking

Overview
The goal of any manufacturing process is zero waste, zero loss. This is harder to achieve when the process inputs have a limited shelf life, such as in food production. Grantek recently worked with a food producer to integrate data from their final pallet labeling system with their warehouse and shipping data systems to efficiently track and ship product. The target goal is less than 0.1% waste.

Challenges
As part of a global corporate initiative, a long-time Grantek client recently asked Grantek to help them develop a better way to track pallets of product ready for shipment. The palleted product, upon exiting the plant, could go either directly to a truck for shipping or to a warehouse. The warehouse is operated by a third party, adding another layer of complexity to the interface communication design. The demarcation point between the production system and the third-party warehouse’s systems is when a pallet leaves the production inventory and is transferred to the warehouse inventory.

The product is labeled as it leaves the palletizer. The label is scanned and the data is reported so management knows the pallet has been produced. Pallets may either be shipped directly, immediately after being produced, or may go to the warehouse for storage.

Other data requirements include tracking pallets not only for location within the warehouse, but also for production date in order to keep track of product expiration and minimize waste. Date code tracking is also important for identification of all affected pallets in the event of a product recall.

Solutions
This project involved the use of IBM MQ, Matrics, and AS400 system utilizing the standard DB2 interface. The warehouse tracking data was interfaced to a data management system and supplied to a high-level MES system, where it is now utilized to make informed data-based decisions about production. Efficiencies are realized by basing planning decisions on actionable data received from the factory and warehouse, rather than planning based on previous experience alone.

The customer was pleased by the improvements Grantek made to data integration and reporting capabilities. Grantek’s experience working with the customer’s database systems, including the legacy AS400 system, were important factors in making this project a success.