When DCS began developing our new, proprietary DATUM warehouse execution system (WES), our team of industry software experts included an extensive list of features and functions. These capabilities respond to the increasingly complex needs of operations managers as they run warehouses, distribution centers, and parcel handling facilities.
With more operations incorporating a wider variety of material handling equipment and fulfillment automation into their existing systems, it was clear that other WES software in the market had functionality gaps that led to extended downtime. The longer a system is down, the more expensive it becomes for the operation, as workers are unable to fill orders on time. These result in significantly impacted labor and productivity costs.
That’s why DATUM’s programming incorporates functions that solve problems — such as errors and bottlenecks — faster. The results? Higher overall uptime and greater operational productivity. Here are some examples of how DATUM’s embedded tools and visibility features enable faster system troubleshooting and support.
Intuitive search and graph functions.
Two key functions in DATUM’s programming enable users to access key business information quickly and intuitively.
The first is a built-in full text search feature that operates similarly to major web-based search engines. Users can quickly search for anything — orders, exceptions, specific containers, workflow processes, errors, key performance indicators, and more — and access answers in real time. DATUM executes the search across all connected data sources instantaneously, saving time.
The second is a graph function that displays visual illustrations of key processes throughout the entire system. At a glance, users can quickly see which processes are flowing as they should, which are at risk of an issue or error, and which have stopped completely. Rather than an operations manager retroactively analyzing data log files to identify operating faults or exceptions after a problem arises, DATUM highlights areas of concern so they can be addressed proactively.
SCADA visualization helps pinpoint problems.
DATUM leverages supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control architecture. This enables the WES to seamlessly pull data from all connected automation within the facility. DATUM supervises and accesses sensors, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), network communication, automation from different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), warehouse management system (WMS) software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and more.
By connecting to and coordinating all of these disparate systems, DATUM directs order planning, releases tasks intelligently, synchronizes all current work, and optimizes process flow. It also displays these functions through a series of highly intuitive, user-customizable, drag-and-drop dashboard interfaces and visualization features embedded within its structure.
Unlike other WES that require users to spend time digging through different software associated with each piece of equipment and retrieving error logs, DATUM synthesizes all these data points into a single hub. No external visualization software is necessary to interpret the data. Instead, DATUM immediately pinpoints where the problem is. This significantly cuts troubleshooting time, ensuring quick resolution of errors and faults. DATUM’s search and graph functionalities allows operations managers to focus on maximizing the productivity of their facility instead of focusing on problems.
Overarching control solves sub-system flaws.
At a recent DATUM implementation site, its system-wide control and synchronization of existing automation equipment enabled the WES to address an ongoing issue. The operation uses a pick-to-light system to fill orders. Order totes circulate on a sorter. Previously driven by the pick-to-light’s control software, totes that required an item in a certain pick zone were diverted to the area.
While this approach worked beautifully when the picking zones were fully stocked, there was no accommodation within the existing programming order totes needing items awaiting replenishment. Instead, order totes that were incomplete continuously returned to the necessary zone over and over. This required an operator to re-scan the tote’s license plate repeatedly until eventually the position was replenished, wasting a tremendous amount of time.
With DATUM, DCS was able to address the issue. Based on a real time analysis of order requirements, inventory volumes, and stock positions, the WES automatically knows when a pick face needs replenishment. Before the pick face is empty, DATUM sends a replenishment command to proactively minimize downtime.
Also, because it continuously tracks each order as it navigates through the fulfillment system, DATUM only routes order totes into pick-to-light zones where the required items are available. If an order tote needs an item awaiting replenishment, DATUM recirculates it on the sorter until the pick zone is ready. This saves a tremendous amount of time as associates are no longer manually scanning the same tote repeatedly.
Extensive testing and timely issue resolution.
DATUM’s base platform leverages widely used components that are extensively deployed worldwide by major corporations. In addition to its highly stable microservice architecture, DCS conducts exhaustive testing of the code and its functionality prior to deployment at a customer’s site. This enables us to isolate and remediate any issues before the WES is installed.
Additionally, thanks to its modular and scalable architecture, updates can be quickly applied in isolation to address specific issues. For example, when a customer began receiving conflicting error messages about pick locations, DCS’ software engineers were able to quickly pinpoint and resolve the issue.
The incorrect location instructions were coming from the operation’s existing WMS; with the implementation of DATUM, the WES was now the designated source for those instructions. Rather than manipulating the legacy WMS, DCS’ software team quickly developed code that directed DATUM to disregard location messaging from the WMS. Deployed overnight, the solution immediately resolved the issue before the first shift clocked in the next morning.
Learn more about DATUM.
Want to experience the DATUM WES difference for yourself? Connect with us; our software team is happy to schedule a virtual demo that walks you through the embedded tools and visibility features that enable faster system troubleshooting and support for greater uptime and higher productivity.
Author: Mawi Woldehawaryat, Software Support Engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org