Utilizing the Benefit of Just-in-Time Order Fulfillment with a WES

Have you ever wondered how some grocery items have such a long shelf life? Whether it’s ice cream, meats, or cheeses, it’s remarkable how fresh some products found in grocery stores can be. So what’s the secret behind this wonder?

The answer is an effective warehouse execution system (WES) powering just-in-time (JIT) order fulfillment.

This strategy, used by many warehouses, fulfils orders on an as-needed basis. As the name “just-in-time” suggests, timing is crucial in this process. For example, the food industry needs a fast and reliable system that can provide grocery stores with fresh products. Historically, this has been difficult to achieve as customers demand a wide variety of different products, while striving to decrease the amount of inventory kept in their backroom storage locations.  Also, the expiration dates of perishable food products are always a critical factor. For these reasons, it’s imperative that JIT order fulfillment is orchestrated carefully.  Marrying this with a WES to ensure that orders are pulled in a timely manner, and without any mistakes is one way to accomplish this.  

To fulfill orders, some warehouses implement software applications such as a warehouse management system (WMS), which manages a facility’s inventory tracking and movement, and/or a warehouse control system (WCS), which controls a facility’s automaton. However, two applications can complicate order fulfillment, and even create compatibility issues. A WES utilizes the components of both a WMS and a WCS to provide a fully integrated, complete solution to power JIT order fulfillment. With a WES, operations can utilize the order fulfillment capabilities by partnering it with a software that fits the specific needs of a warehouse. This single application is able to power order fulfillment to be efficient and accurate.

Utilizing a WES for order fulfillment tasks has been proven to be effective for the food industry looking to provide grocery stores with fresh products. For instance, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc.  recently upgraded their Chambersburg, Pa. facility with a Westfalia Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) controlled by Westfalia’s Savanna.NET® WES. Integrating a WES with their order processing and ERP systems has allowed Martin’s to increase order accuracy and product traceability. JIT order fulfillment is especially important for Martin’s in order to maintain the freshness and quality of their famous potato rolls. This strategy has allowed Martin’s to continue to offer fresh breads, while resulting in a 50 percent improvement in efficiency and 95 percent order accuracy.

How a Warehouse Execution System Works

The orchestration of a WES is a start-to-finish process—from the moment an order is placed to the exiting of a loaded truck from a facility. Implementation of a WES married to JIT order fulfillment could look something like this:

 A truck arrives at a facility: Personnel that typically check the trucks in can use the WES to assign the truck its order of loading and specific loading location.



 The truck pulls into the loading position: Operators use the WES to initiate the order fulfillment process – pulling the product from the AS/RS just-in-time, rather than having product sit at the staging area longer than it should.



 The truck is loaded with the correct order: the WES directs the AS/RS and/or material handling personnel to pick and dynamically deliver the product for the order to the appropriate area for loading.



 The truck leaves the facility: the WES has successfully optimized the power of JIT order fulfillment by systematically and perfectly managing the process.


Despite the many challenges that the food industry is experiencing today, using a WES to power JIT order fulfillment is the solution to fulfilling orders quickly while minimizing errors. Dave Williams, vice president of software at Westfalia Technologies, states the benefits of a WES for order fulfillment simply as: “the ability to dynamically manage the fulfillment of an order so that the right product gets in the right orders at the correct time.” In turn, this will result in a supply chain that is optimized for efficiency and accuracy to face today’s dynamic supply chain market.

Interested in learning more about how a Warehouse Execution System can benefit you? Contact us for a free demo of Westfalia’s Savanna.NET WES!

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