Managers at the Port of Tyne – one of the UK’s oldest deep sea ports – have seen a significant reduction in stock processing times, after installing the latest version of OpenWMS, a warehouse management system from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced).
The updated system is already saving the organisation approximately 120 man hours a week through a combination of automated, more efficient working processes and has also enabled Port management to put a third shift on hold. In total the new system is saving the port around £70,000 a year.
The North East port, which provides the UK shipping industry with access to vital trade routes across the globe, has benefitted from OpenWMS since 2001. Senior managers recently decided to upgrade the software to support the business’s efficiency drive, and to improve key elements of their warehouse management processes.
The upgrade included a new billing module, which fully automates customer charging processes and significantly reduces time spent on administration. The incorporation of the module into the wider WMS system has also eliminated the possibility of human error, and is consequently providing reassurance to both the Port’s management team and customers that the billing process is accurate.
Graeme Hardie, Head of Operations Logistics at Port of Tyne, said: "Previously, we used manual processes when it came to charging customers and we had concerns that we were not capturing everything. The original system was vulnerable to human error but now everything is automated so we capture charges in real time. We have better visibility and can see and monitor our incomes instantly.
"We also wanted the billing module to reassure our customers that we are billing them correctly. The WMS has really helped us improve the accuracy of our record keeping by replacing manual data entry with automated scanning."
Prior to the upgrade, pallets were unloaded by a warehouse operative and contents were manually recorded on a ‘goods in’ product sheet. The details were then passed to an administrator for data entry purposes.
The new system, which includes Radio Data Terminal (RDT) label printing, has streamlined this process. Once the pallets have been unloaded from the vehicle, the contents are logged via a handheld device, which is also capable of printing off a barcoded label, capturing the key data. At this point the pallets are ready for warehouse storing.
Graeme Hardie added: "The new software effectively gives the operator complete control – pallets are logged automatically on to the system and stored away in minutes. This is where we have seen significant savings. We now have a streamlined operation which has increased our capacity and enabled us to be much more productive, hence we have been able to eliminate the night shift requirement at peak times.
"We now have complete confidence in our system and much better visibility of our stock control. We have 53,000 pallet locations – so knowing the contents and location of each pallet is extremely important to us as well as our customers."
Port of Tyne managers are now looking at introducing Advanced software to link their transport and container terminal management databases with their transport system. The organisation expects the integration to significantly improve collaborative working.