Omni-channel demands have changed the way companies do business. And for companies that want to stay ahead the curve, it is also changing the automation systems and warehouse execution software companies employ to service their distribution channels.
The demands of omni-channel processing require a level of execution in system design, communications, and software execution capabilities that is simply not possible through the traditional integration approaches that patch together disparate WMS, WCS, and MHE solutions.
What is required today is a holistic approach to systems automation that combines purpose-driven design (derived from the data sciences of analytics, modeling, simulation, and optimization) with sophisticated warehouse execution software into one comprehensive solution capable of orchestrating all the simultaneous and parallel processing associated with omni-channel fulfillment.
This is the Invata approach. And for companies dependent on omni-channel distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, or reverse logistics processing, the advantages gained through an Invata Warehouse Execution System can turn a cost center into a competitive advantage.
Warehouse Execution Software Unlike Any Other
Invata’s warehouse execution software differs from other WES offerings on the market in a number of ways that are critical to enhancing the performance of high volume automated distribution and fulfillment operations.
Below is a list of the features that make Invata’s Fasttrak warehouse execution software unlike any other:
1. The Widest Range of Functionality on the Market.
Most warehouse execution software offerings on the market today focus only on the order fulfillment process.
In doing so, they not only ignore the vast array of warehouse management and control challenges inherent to today’s omni-channel environments, but they also limit their own ability to optimize the order fulfillment process.
Invata’s warehouse execution software offers order fulfillment functionality as well as all the WMS and WCS functionality needed to handle omni-channel processing challenges from receiving through shipping. This includes:
- Complete WMS functionality, including receiving, inventory storage, inventory management, picking, replenishment, order management, order fulfillment, packing, labeling, shipping.
- Complete WCS functionality, including automation control, routing, sorting, in-motion weighing and print apply, tracking,PLC communications.
- Complete WES functionality, including the optimization algorithms that provide the logic and instructions for constant systems analysis and calibration.
- Labor Management functionality, including labor optimization, performance metrics, and resource planning.
- Transportation Management functionality, including manifesting, multi-modal shipping capabilities, and shipping analytics.
In offering the full range of functionality needed to address all warehouse automation and processing challenges, Invata’s WES is able to optimize the order fulfillment process in ways others simply cannot:
Because Invata’s warehouse execution software need not rely on a third party WMS to handle inventory management as other WES system do, Invata order fulfillment systems are able to dynamically allocate inventory to orders as optimization opportunities arise. This enables Invata’s warehouse execution software to add a layer of flexibility and optimization that is not available in systems that must rely in the handoff of inventory control between a WMS and WES.
As a result, Invata’s WES is able to fully optimize operations from end-to-end instead of just within the realm of order fulfillment.
2. Purpose-Driven Deployment / Complete Configurability.
While Invata’s warehouse execution software has the capacity to offer complete Warehouse Management System and Warehouse Control System functionality, the deployable configuration of any Invata WES will be strictly determined by the requirements of the system it will power.
Rather than supply clients with bloated, one-size-fits-all applications that carry a lot of unnecessary functionality, slow processing times, and requires customization for processing that exceeds the confines of the base system, Invata configures its WES from a version-controlled library of field tested, orthogonal software components, functions and files to create exactly what is needed to get the job done in the most effective manner.
This means that Invata’s warehouse execution system can take total control or partial control of any automation scenario we encounter:
- FastTrak can take total control of all the parallel processing requirements of an omni-channel operation from receiving through shipping, while also controling of all the associated MHE automation processes down to the PLC and device level — and, thus, truly optimizing productivity.
- Or FastTrak can be used to fill functionality gaps in systems where grandfathered or outmoded systems may be hampering performance or growth to extend the life and productivity of existing systems while modernizing operations.
In this manner, each client gets exactly the level of purpose-driven functionality it needs to handle its specific business rules and requirements.
3. A Single Solution to Optimizing Productivity.
Instead of the traditional approach to integration that patches together a disparate WMS with one or more disparate WCS systems, Invata’s WES provides a singular, comprehensive solution that utilizes consistent processing and logic across all software applications.
This ensures seamless systems integration and execution of process, while also enabling a single point of accountability.
This means that the traditional practices of integrating multiple software applications, databases, interfaces, processing procedures, disparate logic, and finger-pointing support teams in new facilities are no longer necessary nor advocated as best practices for optimizing productivity.
In existing facilities that require integration of a WES with grandfathered applications and equipment, Invata’s warehouse execution software still provides a single solution for optimizing performance. Offering a library of field-tested and proven interfaces for seamless integration with host ERP systems and most third party software applications, Invata’s WES unifies existing systems and equipment such that productivity can be optimized and system performance can be easily monitored and diagnosed.
Our integration interfaces are designed for high speed performance, integrity of data transfer, and diagnostic audit tracing.
Our extensive experience with interfacing to third party applications (along with our ability to simulate software performance prior to installation — see #7 below), gives us complete confidence in our ability to integrate our WES into any automation scenario.
4. Optimized Order Fulfillment.
Traditional distribution systems utilize wave processing to fulfill a fixed number of orders before moving onto the next wave. Productivity within such systems generally emulates a sine wave with strong peaks at the start of the wave and deep troughs as system productivity ebbs, while awaiting the completion of a few unfulfilled orders before the transition to the next wave can be made.
Knowing that traditional wave processing can’t keep pace with the competing demands of omni-channel fulfillment, Invata has developed an order fulfillment methodology in which orders are continuously fulfilled as processing resources become available.
Invata’s Optimized Fulfillment process involves the constant, opportunistic comparison of real-time operational conditions to the fulfillment requirements of open orders such that operational productivity can be maximized, while orders are fulfilled in the most efficient manner possible.
Optimized Fulfillment not only requires constant systems analysis, but continuous, real-time algorithmic adjustment and prioritization of the system order profile based on an evaluation of both static and dynamic real-time considerations. It is a dynamic equation in which Invata’s warehouse execution software continuously assigns and allocates the next best variable — such as the dynamic deployment of in-motion inventory or the dynamic assignment of available equipment and labor — in order to optimize the fulfillment process.
When combined with purpose-driven systems design, Invata’s warehouse execution software offers the most efficient order fulfillment process available.
5. Continuous Execution Across All Processing Channels.
Order fulfillment covers only a portion of the processing demands of an omni-channel operation. Beyond fulfillment demands, there are a myriad of other highly complex processes that are all require sophisticated computing and orchestration capabilities.
While not every distribution center requires a warehouse execution system to handle all the various operations that take place in an omni-channel environment, the advantages gained from having a comprehensive WES solution that utilizes consistent processing and logic across all software applications can be many.
They include expedited processing capabilities, reduced labor requirements, enhanced inventory management, optimized order fulfillment, expanded systems visibility, reporting and tracking efficiencies, and superior systems support.
To that end, Invata’s WES has been meticulously perfected with the capacity for simultaneous and continuous execution of processes across all omni channels, including:
- Operational processes such as receiving, customer returns, put away, allocation, decanting, replenishment, picking, bagging, packing, shipping, and more.
- Automation processes such as managing ASRS systems, routing, sorting, tracking, and more.
It is this kind of processing capability that separates Invata’s warehouse execution software from other WES systems on the market today.
6. Performance Standards that Set the Benchmark for WES Systems.
The Optimized Fulfillment and Continuous Execution processes that are the hallmarks of Invata’s warehouse execution software require a level of computing sophistication that is only achieved through strategic software development practices that lie not just at the heart of Invata’s WES, but at the core of Invata’s company culture.
The practices stem from a core Invata philosophy:
This philosophy is central to our culture, because our experience has taught us that when it comes to the automation systems we build for our clients, the number of milliseconds it takes to perform transactions, execute decisions, or realize machine responses can make or break system performance.
So we believe the key to success in automation, as In life, is to make every millisecond count.
We do this through strategic warehouse execution software development practices such as:
- Managing database concurrency (keeping transactions lean, indexing, sequencing, managing database connections),
- Writing concise, purpose-driven code that is predictably and logically consistent in its approach to processing at every step,
- Creating elegant algorithms,
- Constantly fighting for innovative ways to maximize the efficiencies required for optimal system performance.
We also do it by working with our clients to find the most efficient approach to WES processing, given their unique operations and business rules. This often translates to Invata controlling equipment systems versus just “communicating with” them and Invata managing inventory instead just having “inventory visibility.”
7. Proven Performance Prior to Installation.
Another core competency that separates Invata’s warehouse execution software from other WES systems on the market is our practice of developing fully functioning simulation environments to test and prove the performance of our equipment controller applications prior to installing them in a client facility.
By creating simulated software environments that precisely emulate both equipment behaviors and human interaction behaviors (where applicable), we are able to test and prove the performance of our warehouse execution software prior to installing it.
And we can do so using actual customer data to test performance against real-world conditions.
This means that prior to installation, we not only know that our software will perform as predicted, but we’ve also already worked out a vast majority of equipment related issues and eccentricities others will only learn about through days and often weeks of field testing at client’s facility.
It also means that when an Invata client wants to make changes to an operational process to accommodate growth or a change in business strategy, we can test and prove the performance of the software that will control the change prior to installation and, thus, eliminate potential disruption to production.
In making this practice a core discipline that is performed with all Invata installations, we are able to have complete confidence that our FastTrak Warehouse Execution Software can work with any technology on the market and that each system go-live will have an orderly and predictable result.
8. Analytical Learning Capabilities for Continuous Improvement.
Invata’s warehouse execution software uses performance metrics to not only allow us to garner the highest performance from our systems, but to constantly improve them and evolve them over time.
To that end, every Invata warehouse execution system records key data that can be used to evaluate and analyze system performance at any moment in time, including:
- Database response durations
- Time stamps
- Process durations
Our transaction logs are accessible by our staff and clients alike. Invata clients can use the data we record to track and verify system performance. Invata staff members use it to continuous improve individual system performance over time, while collectively using it to improve our offerings and help us evolve as an organization in the future.
9. Supportable. Scalable. Adaptable.
One of the key tenants at Invata is to create systems that are always inherently supportable despite their complexity or scale. We do this by maintaining a consistency in both our philosophy and approach to the creation and configuration of the files, functions, stored procedures, and logic our warehouse execution software uses to control our system.
Subsequently, for every warehouse execution system we develop, we employ the same core development disciplines, processes, and methodology.
This not only ensures that each system is fully supportable by all members of our staff, but it also ensures that each system can be scaled to meet a client’s changing business needs and/or adapted to accommodate changes in business strategy.
Because of the methodologies we use in coding and the creation of algorithms, functions can be added to an Invata WES without side effects to other processes or the need for extensive customization and process changes. The addition of new material handling equipment can also be incorporated into an Invata WES with minimal disruption.
Supportability. Scalability. Adaptability: Three cornerstones of an Invata warehouse execution system.
10. A Holistic Approach to Systems Automation.
Invata’s warehouse execution software is deployed as part of Invata’s unique, comprehensive approach to systems automation.
It is an approach in which systems design, automation, and software are developed by singularly focused, cross-disciplinary teams strictly guided by research derived from the data sciences of analytics, modeling, simulation, and optimization.
Because of that, Invata’s WES is neither developed in a vacuum nor optimistically deployed with naïve assumptions regarding its abilities to orchestrate the multitude of transactions, processes, and equipment that will be demanded of it.
Rather it is developed as a centerpiece of a comprehensive thoroughly researched and meticulously proven integrated solution that accounts for all the company data, equipment eccentricities, processing algorithms, business rules, and short and long term client objectives specific to each automation scenario before the system is deployed. As such, Invata’s warehouse execution software sets the standard for automation execution.