Zupplychain has recently launched its Stock Database, available to registered customers and providers. The Stock Database represents the latest step in Zupplychain’s strategy of building a fully integrated communications and operational system infrastructure for those storing pallets with its warehouse providers.
Over a series of blogs, we will explain what the Stock Database does, how it works and how to get the most out of it. Today’s piece provides a general overview.
What is the Stock Database?
In a nutshell, Zupplychain’s Stock Database is a warehouse management system (WMS) in the cloud, allowing both parties in a Zupplychain storage agreement to share the same operational information regarding the customer’s stock stored in the Zupplychain provider’s warehouse or warehouses.
The database will enable users to view the status of each pallet, for instance whether ‘requested for dispatch’, ‘in transit’, or ‘booked in’. Information on pallets is also aggregated to allow a user to examine stock levels and status by product or by warehouse. Customers can instruct movements out through the system, either back to their own warehouse or to a third party, and be informed automatically when the warehouse provider confirms ‘booked out’.
The oil in the engine is a Zupplychain unique reference number (URN) for each pallet, which is printed on a label and applied to each pallet by the originator of the pallets before dispatch to the provider. This URN allows the database to hold pallet specific information such as BBE dates or customer pallet codes, as well as product codes, product description, pallet footprint, height and weight. As a result, customers can request the movement of a specific pallet on the Stock Database, confident that the warehouse will know the exact location of that pallet.
Running alongside the database on a user’s dashboard are a series of communications and notifications concerning the database and product movements, usually automatically catalysed by a user’s action on the database, such as booking in or requesting a movement.
Future developments of the Zupplychain Stock Database will include the handling of container de-stuffing and palletisation by a warehouse and an automated billing system based on the data in the system.
What are the advantages of the Stock Database?
- Seamless automated communication between customers and warehouses of movement requests and notifications of actions.
- Allows customers to manage all their Zupplychain stock across multiple locations through one portal at both pallet by pallet and aggregated levels.
- No need to set up integration with a supplier for short term contracts or long contracts with limited product movements.
- The URN results in a reduced risk of the wrong pallet being picked and dispatched.
What doesn’t it do?
- The Zupplychain Stock Database does not operate at the unit level – the denominator is a pallet. If units are picked singularly from a pallet, the pallet exists until empty, then should be removed from the database. We will be developing unit functionality within the database in 2017.
- The database is not yet configured for complex outbound movements involving multiple destinations per week with small amounts of multiple SKU’s per outbound.
- In advance of the launch of container functionality, there is a temporary solution to enable a warehouse to create the pallets and book them onto the stock database after de-stuffing a container. If required, please call us in advance of the requirement on the number at the top of the page to discuss this.
How do I use the database?
For customers, the Stock Database can be found on your main dashboard menu, titled ‘Stock’. This will open the database on the summary page of dispatches to providers. On the left of the top bar is the Stock Database menu to choose other pages. Whilst any registered Zupplychain user can access the database, only the Operational Contacts and Main Contacts are authorised to create and action movements or changes in stock status.
For providers, the database is accessed via the ‘Warehouses’ tab on the main dashboard menu. This allows you to choose the relevant warehouse before accessing the database. This will open the database on the ‘book-in’ page. On the left of the top bar is the Stock Database menu to choose other pages. Whilst any registered Zupplychain user can access the database, only the warehouse-specific Goods-In Contacts, Pick and Dispatch Contacts and Master Authorities are authorised to confirm movements or changes in stock status.
Before the start of a storage contract, the customer goes to the ‘New Dispatch to Provider’ page to specify a movement by product type, converts this into the quantity of single pallets when complete (or saves it and returns later). This will be covered in detail in Blog 2. When the product is dispatched, the customer confirms ‘in-transit’ (see Blog 3). If preferred, Excel files of products to dispatch can be uploaded onto this page and then, if necessary, further information added once uploaded.
Once received, the warehouse provider books in the load, including any discrepancies (Booking in and out is in Blog 4; discrepancies are discussed in Blog 5).
When product is required to be dispatched out of the provider’s warehouse to its next or final destination, the customer logs in to the dashboard, uses the ‘New Dispatch from Provider’ tab, identifies the specific pallets (or all of the pallets) and provides information on when, where and by whom they are to be moved. This instruction goes straight to the relevant contact at the warehouse to action when appropriate (see Blog 3) and book out the product on the database (Blog 4).
At all times, authorised users can view pallets and their status, and see discrepancies and recently booked out pallets at both the pallet and aggregated level.
If you have any further questions – either around the Stock Database or more generally about Zupplychain, please don’t hesitate to get in contact .