If you go to any Amazon distribution center, you’ll see that the majority of the orders that get picked are brought through checkout tables. A packer scans a product, puts it into the final box, prints the necessary labels, seals the box and puts it onto the conveyor line for distribution. DATASCOPE’s MSN Grocery Checkout module accomplishes very much the same process as Amazon’s packing and checkout processes.
In this article, we’ll cover the MSN Grocery Checkout module, how it can be used in both small parcel and LTL orders, and we’ll discuss a few of the other checkout methods within the DATASCOPE software. We’ll also mention some of the additional module features, as well as warehouse and permission settings that can be configured within the module to ensure you’re getting the most out of it.
WHY USE THE MSN GROCERY CHECKOUT MODULE?
To visualize where the MSN Grocery Checkout module fits into normal warehouse operations, imagine a normal, high-level warehouse flow where an order is loaded into SYSPRO. It is becoming increasingly common to use SYSPRO’s in-reserve field, where the orders get moved into “reserve”, not into “ship”. Once they enter the reserve, they become available for DATASCOPE to reserve and release. The wave release screen is used to look at all the orders, group them together and push them out into the warehouse as pick slips. Very often, those are released with different, specific picking instructions depending on the area of the warehouse. After the order has been picked, it is taken to the checkout area.
MSN Grocery Checkout is a full-pack station check. After packing, if it is an LTL order, it goes to the shipping department where the shipment module will finalize the shipment, group orders together and then send an invoice or dispatch note and, ultimately, the EDI file. In this article, we’re primarily focused on the packing and checkout stage of the process.
MSN GROCERY CHECKOUT: SMALL PARCEL VS. LTL
To understand the MSN Grocery Checkout module in more depth, it’s important to grasp the differences between its use in LTL orders compared to small parcel orders.
SMALL PARCEL ORDERS
There are 2 main focuses of the MSN Grocery Checkout module. The first involves the picking and packing of small parcel orders with many mixed SKU cartons. In these cases, after checkout, the order goes straight down the conveyor line and into the courier’s truck for delivery and much of the process is automated. Small parcel orders often contain many different stock codes and small quantities. Each carton gets packed separately and gets its own box label and shipper label.
In LTL orders, you don’t want to start the checkout until all linked picking tickets are picked; you want to checkout, label, palletize and send out the order as a complete order. The default in the DATASCOPE software is to have the full MSN packing turned on. With small parcel orders, on the other hand, there is no need to consolidate the orders. Each carton is sent to the couriers individually and they run those cartons through their own sorting center to consolidate them. Therefore, in a small parcel environment, the default is to have the full MSN packing turned off.
LTL AND LARGE ORDERS
The second focus of the MSN Grocery Checkout module is the larger LTL orders. Here, it’s normal to deal with larger quantities with multiple boxes or cartons of the same product. The orders usually come in standard pack sizes, where they are sent to checkout tables to be mass checked, labeled, palletized and loaded onto the delivery trucks.
When it comes to the larger LTL orders, putting a new label on every single box going out may not be convenient. In that case, there is an option within the MSN module to turn off the print carton label. It is also possible to add VB scripting into the loading of the screens. As soon as the MSN number is entered or scanned by the user, the screen loads with the custom VB script to check if the customer requires specific labels at a carton level. This feature can be toggled on and off.
Ultimately, the software provides a detailed data structure of the order broken down into pallets, telling you exactly what is on each pallet, and exactly what is in each carton on every pallet. Upon opening the shipping module, you’ll know the DIMS of the product, allowing you to accurately rate shop the order. Also, when passing data via EDI, the EDI file will show data down to the carton level so you’ll be able to see what pallets are there and what is on each pallet.
OTHER PACKING AND CHECKOUT METHODS
In addition to the MSN Grocery Checkout module, there are several other common methods within the DATASCOPE software that can be used for packing and checking out picked orders.
SIMPLE SCANNER CHECKS
After picking, in some environments, a simple scanner checkout is used. This is not a packing station. Here, the picker has finished picking the product and they bring a cart with the product on it through a controlled section of the warehouse before going into a dispatch cage where the scanner checks that the quantities are all correct. The invoice happens directly after the check occurs.
This is used in conjunction with tote picking. In tote picking, all orders are picked into a plastic tote with its own unique number. The tote comes down the conveyor line and all the different parts of the order are added to the tote. It then enters a checkout area where it gets unpacked and then re-packed into a final carton, each product being scanned as it is put into the carton. The normal process of checking and packing the product, including labeling all the cartons and printing the packing list and invoice or dispatch note, still occurs.
PACK STATION CHECKOUT & CONSOLIDATED CHECKOUT
Pack station checkout and consolidated checkout have a similar functionality, but consolidated is slightly more advanced. While pack station checkout deals with a single order at a time, consolidated checkout is an extension of that, allowing you to bring multiple orders together that go to the same customer and delivery address and pack everything as a group. In consolidated checkout, the packing slip understands that there can be multiple orders and will break the order down at a carton level.
LINE MASS CHECKOUT
This is also a checkout and packing station but it works using a mass scale built into the conveyor. After scanning the picking ticket and opening up a carton, the carton is placed on the scale. As each product is added into the carton, the software checks the scale and validates the mass, comparing it to the mass in SYSPRO’s mass field. If the mass is incorrect, the software will notify you of the discrepancy.
AUTOMATED IN-LINE CHECKOUT
Finally, there is the automated in-line checkout for conveyor-controlled operations. The software takes orders, pre-allocates those orders to cartons, and tells you which cartons must go onto the conveyor line and which product to put into the carton. The software prints a 2-D barcode for every carton and then sends it through the facility to be picked — usually with voice picking but sometimes using scanners as well. The cartons get mass checked and then sent to the invoice/dispatch area. This method is currently being enhanced to allow for an RFID check as well.
ADDITIONAL MSN GROCERY CHECKOUT MODULE FEATURES
The MSN module is incredibly dynamic, offering a number of customization options, configuration settings, and permissions that you can set up just for your business requirements:
- Able to generate carton clones with the same mass, size and contents as the original, allowing the same configurations of cartons to be packed easily.
- If one of the carton labels gets damaged or goes missing, you can easily reprint the carton labels or the entire packing list.
- The MSN screen caters to sales order kits, allowing you to scan either the parent or the child components of the kit, depending on how your business is set up.
- The software contains functionality to deal with both standard carton sizes and custom selected carton sizes. There is no need to select the carton size in standard packs as long as it has been pre-configured in SYSPRO.
For many businesses, there will be a barcode on each product to scan, but rarely will there be a lot number barcode on a product. If you’re alternating between scanning the stock code and the lot, this shouldn’t be a problem if you have lot barcodes on the product. However, often this is not the case, so the software allows you to scan only the stock code and, assuming the picker only picked one lot, use that lot as the default. There are instances where you may want this setting turned off, such as in the medical industry where you’ll want to force the scan of a lot number to confirm it is the correct lot.
WAREHOUSE SETTINGS AND PERMISSIONS
Warehouse settings and permissions that can be configured within the MSN Grocery Checkout module include:
- Specify carton over/under mass tolerances.
- Choose whether, and when, you want to invoice or send the dispatch note, depending on your process flow
- Different label templates based on the customer, so each product going out can have different documentation. (This is useful for when you’re picking online orders on behalf of other companies. This applies to both the carton label and the packing list.)
- Force mass import from a scale rather than letting a user type in the mass.
- Suppress packing list printouts and pop up messages asking for the weight of every carton.
- Specify how many packing list copies to print out.
- Group permissions: user may/may not deselect full MSN packs, prevent user from packing all remaining items into a single box, allow/disallow user to override the mass check, allow/disallow the user to type in a quantity
Hopefully, you found this article useful. Ultimately, we want our customers, as well as DATASCOPE WMS resellers, to understand the dynamics of every application and feel comfortable doing most of these configurations on their own so that they can become as self-sufficient as possible.
To watch detailed demonstrations of the MSN Grocery Checkout module, as well as our other webinars, check out our webinars page. For more software demonstrations, we also offer DATASCOPE University (DSU). These presentations allow you to write your own test code as you work through the courses. Reach out to us today if you would like to learn more!