Question

WMS Picking -- Is anyone having success?

  • 10 August 2022
  • 9 replies
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Userlevel 1

Hello, 

We’ve been using Acumatica WMS for about two years now. We were initially excited about the picking functionality—using a smartphone via the Acumatica app, or a handheld scanner—but it has not lived up to our expectations. I’m curious if anyone is having success? Here are our pain points: 

  • In order to pick via the handheld, you also need a printed picking worksheet to know where to go and what to pick. Using the Review screen during the pick is inefficient to look back-and-forth between. I wish the picking screen would tell you more about where to go, what SKUs and quantities to pick, rather than leaving you “blind” to that information. 
  • It is therefore much easier for our team to just use the printed picking worksheet to pick orders. Using the handheld takes much longer. 
  • As far as I know there’s no way to simply mark a picking worksheet as “picked” in Acumatica. You have to actually scan everything (which takes forever). Therefore our team just deletes the picking worksheet after they’ve finished picking. 

Does anyone have any recommendations for how to improve the picking experience? 


9 replies

Userlevel 6
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Hi @max21 -

I had a call with the Acumatica WMS team the other day. I have personally coded WMS systems myself, so I like to think I have a pretty good idea about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to these systems, even though my experience has admittedly been limited to one industry vertical.

My call with them was pretty brutally honest. I echoed many of the problems you raise above, and some that you haven’t. I told them that in my opinion no one on their team had ever spent more than 5 minutes in a real warehouse using their software, or they wouldn’t have released it in the first place.

They are moving towards a completely paperless picking experience, which I think is cool. The problem is that they largely have carried over all the same workflow issues you mentioned above.

I told them on the call that in my opinion, the number one issue they have is not using roll-up identifiers for inventory so that there can be a single barcode scan per bundle of inventory in the warehouse. In our home-rolled WMS, we call this an I-Tag. It is sometimes referred to as a license plate in other systems. The purpose of it is to have one unique ID that can be used for the system to understand where a bundle is in the warehouse, and all of its properties such as product id, lot number, heat number, quantity available, etc. This in turn solves many of the scanning issues you mention, because dealing with inventory bundles then only requires a scan of the bundle you want to work with, and a scan to move it or do something with it. Currently, the Acumatica WMS requries many scans just to figure out what bundle of inventory you want to choose, and even then it doesn’t do a very good job of showing you what you have chosen.

The timeline that was communicated to me for license plating was at least 1-2 years away. I think that feature alone would solve the issue you mentioned: “You have to actually scan everything (which takes forever)”. I brought this issue up with them as being a high priority problem for their software, but if license plating is a few years away then it doesn’t seem like it will be solved anytime soon.

I also was disappointed that the out-of-the-box WMS is not more capable, and that this doesn’t seem to be a hair on fire issue for Acumatica, although I think maybe it should be given the gap between product expecatations and product capability.

I think the short to medium term solution is probably to use a different WMS system and integrate it into Acumatica. I know of a company that runs Acumatica and is currently implementing Korber WMS to deal with the issues you raised. Korber is a rather expensive product however.

Thanks,

 

Jonathan

 

Userlevel 3
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I would echo all of the above - we took on WMS and have been unable to build it into a real-life workflow where it doesn’t create 10x the amount of work vs manual paper and pen. We’re looking to drop this form our licence now and find another solution for all the same reasons.

If the system is going to require us to continue to print pick lists for all the relevant information on what and where, then I really really wish that at it’s most basic function WMS could simply be used to mark the shipment as “picked” - You just want to quickly indicate that all items on the shipment have been picked from the location as indicated on the shipment. This shouldn't take 30 scans

 

I also desperately wish shipments had a status of “picked” indicating that the inventory is no longer at the location - the shipment is awaiting packing/shipping. (HOLD>OPEN>PICKED>PACKED>CONFIRMED>INVOICED>COMPLETE). Maybe with the new workflow tools we could get a customization to do all this, but would have hoped that was the point of WMS)

 

Userlevel 3
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This doesn’t fix a lot, but the set QTY function isn’t bad especially if you have a scannable commend for it.

Userlevel 6
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@kyle90 I think there are a lot of things that need improving about the product. My core suggestion to the WMS team was to “go back to formula” and focus first on the operational performance of the WMS mobile app. Currently, I feel that it is not fast enough at screen switching and other application basics. It is easy to underappeciate how important it is for warehouse picking and putaway work to not have a lot of waiting, since people are running around and don’t want to wait on the handheld. It can have very real cumulative productivity impacts when app lag is times hundreds of people pulling thousands of products per day, as an example. Basically, if the core product operates slowly, even the best app design may not be sufficient.

The strength of Acumatica generally is in customization. The mobile app, and the WMS portion of it, are pretty customizable. So it’s more important to focus on core product speed, because deficiencies in the app can be made up for with customization. But if the app is too slow, no amount of customization will fix a slow/rotten core of the product. The current design has major portions of the application layout being stored in the database, which means you have to make database round trips to even figure out how to layout the screen, etc. This adds an unnecessary performance hit in my opinion (but probably simplifies the design when considering that there can be multiple tenants per server, for example). But I think the product needs to be designed for performance first, other concerns second.

@Jeff96 In most WMS systems, the system already knows how much product of a certain kind is in a given location. So what is better than a scannable Qty function command, is not having to do anything at all, because the system should already know how much is available for picking. If you don’t want to pick the whole amount, it should give you that option and ask you to type in how much you want to pick. The system needs to do a better job of providing the user with information about what’s available in the system, and less scanning and manual data entry when it’s not absolutely necessary.

Userlevel 3
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I have decades of experience in hardware software and hardware for barcode data collection, and I agree with most, if not all of the technical and process comments in this thread.

 

However, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for”.  Regardless of the name, this is not a fully featured warehouse management system and should not be sold as such. Systems of similar features and price level are, at best, “WMS-Lite”. 

 

Purpose built mid-tier WMSs like Savant or High Jump probably cost at least five times what Acumatica costs, but justify themselves with significant improvements in pick velocity and accuracy.  The same can be said of industrial grade mobile terminals as compared to consumer grade handsets.  The trick is to determine the point beyond which the improvements outweigh the costs.  As a rule of thumb, you can expect a WMS to make order picking 15% faster.  So 7 pickers with a WMS can pick more product than 8 using paper.  Checkers are eliminated because the barcode scans are the checks.  Re-keying scanned entries are eliminated.

 

If your fulfillment operation is nearing that size, take a serious look at some of the WMS providers in the Marketplace.

 

 

Userlevel 6
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@gdow23 I think some of the criticism really does come down to the fact that they’re marketing this as a full featured product when it isn’t. If this was a pre-release product that you could use for free for their own internal development, I would have more respect for the sales process. The price isn’t that high compared to a Korber, but it also isn’t that low compared to other more functional products on the market that aren’t much more expensive. Basically, if you are going to market it as a “WMS system”, you better be prepared to have certain things work correctly at a bare minimum.

You can go to the marketing website and see the videos, etc. It doesn’t have a lot of caveats regarding its functionality: https://www.acumatica.com/cloud-erp-software/distribution-management/warehouse-management-system/

Of course, in ERP as with all things, it is caveat emptor, buyer beware. So it is also up to the customers to do their dilligence. However, there are a lot of people out there who may have planned on using the Acumatica WMS becasuse it’s being marketed as full featured, who 1-2 years into implmentation realize that it isn’t capable enough to handle their work. Then the whole implementation timeline gets pushed due to misaligned expectations. So there are some real costs associated with not correctly setting expectations.

 

 

Userlevel 5
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Hello everyone on this post.

We appreciate the lively discussion and feedback given here. My team will be reaching out to everyone on the post for one-on-one discussions.  We want to hear from you so that we can include your voice in the future product changes that we would all like to make.  

I think it is unrealistic to compare our warehousing solution to an advanced WMS (ie Korber, Savant) that is dedicated to just that.  As is the case of other ISV solutions, these WMS solutions often are used to fill needs that are not currently covered by our product, such as license plating.  As well, older solutions have had 20+ years to build up functionality and mature.

Many of you have gone through a discovery process with your partner, where you took stock of what you need in a warehousing solution and determined what might be the best fit for you at that time.  It might have been Acumatica’s warehousing solution or it might have been an ISV.  This choice is particular to each customer implementation and their specific needs.

Let’s work together on identifying areas for improvement.

-Dana

Userlevel 2
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As a VAR I understand Dana’s point that it is our fault for failing to understand the feature gap. What is so frustrating is that Acumatica is so close, then you hit a wall.

We have a customer for whom Acumatica Wave picking works perfectly, right up to printing the Wave pick tickets. We print them because the customer does not want to use scanners.

Unfortunately, there is no way to enter them or complete them manually. You need to use automated operations or scan. No other options.

Dana’s point about other systems is well taken but as a VAR, I try to avoid ISVs wherever possible becasue of upgrade lags and other issues. Also, most of my clients have simple needs that WMS should be able to easily handle.

Userlevel 6
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@michael73 If you look at what the WMS scanner is actually doing during Pick, Pack and Ship, it’s really just entering data into the Shipments section of the Acumatica screen. So when you say there is no way to complete the item manually... just fill in the qty picked for each wave pick ticket...and then you’ve basically done what the handheld would have done (you will have to add any packaging info as relevant also).

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