Many larger enterprises have moved from traditional year-end stock count to cycle counting. The main benefits are
- no facility down time because items are counted continuously – typically when order picking activity is low
- Counting is done intelligently. Cycle count plans enforce that fast moving items are counted more often than slow moving items
- Less deviations/noise/ errors in other warehouse processes, because counting is performed continuously and not just once a year
A natural extension of the cycle count approach is to perform opportunistic counting in the warehouse. Opportunistic counting is performed (or triggered) by warehouse workers during other warehouse processes – e.g. picking.
One well known example of opportunistic counting is zero confirmation. This counting type is used when a picker empties a pick location. The system will then ask him to perform a count of the location to verify that the location is empty.
The main benefits here are:
- The worker is already at the location – eliminating a separate trip to the location during cycle count.
- Confirming that a location is empty is much faster than a cycle count of the location when many items are present on the location.
Cycle count thresholds
D365O supports zero confirmation by the concept of cycle count thresholds. A cycle count threshold specifies that cycle count should be performed when a threshold is hit for a combination of item(s)/locations.
In the example above I have specified, that when the quantity on locations Floor-17 & 18 hits a quantity threshold 5, then I would like the picker to perform a count of the location during the pick operation. The threshold can also be specified as a percentage of volume/stocking limits.
To illustrate the process I have setup an example, where D365O believes location FLOOR-17 contains a full pallet of 100 pieces and a leftover license plate with 3 pieces. In reality the leftover is not physically available at the location.
The worker is now asked to pick 100 pieces from location FLOOR-17:
When the worker confirms the pick, a cycle count screen is presented instead of the normal put screen, because on-hand on the locations is now reduced to 3 – a value that’s below the threshold of 5.
The mobile device asks the worker to enter the quantity of the leftover license plate LP05. The system on-hand is 3, but the location is now empty. The worker therefore enters 0 in quantity:
The mobile device asks him to confirm (recount) – because the counted quantity deviates from the known on-hand quantity:
The worker confirms zero quantity again and the pick operation continues:
The result of the count can now be viewed in the cycle count work pending review form, where it can be accepted or rejected by a supervisor:
Other opportunistic count techniques
D365O also supports cycle counting initiated by a worker reporting a short pick on a location.
The main benefit of this, is that the difference is eliminated instantly, rather than on the next scheduled cycle count of the location.
In this example, a worker is sent to pick items from FLOOR-17 location, but the location is empty. The worker now selects the short pick menu item to report that the items can’t be picked:
In the short pick window the worker selects 0 in pick qty and the short pick reason “Shortpick with cycle count”
Next the worker confirms the shortpick:
Because the worker selected the reason code “Shortpick with cycle count”, a cycle count work has now been generated:
The Cycle count work is created, because the short pick reason code I selected has been setup to trigger cycle count in the Work exceptions form:
When the location is counted, then this will be taken into consideration by the cycle count plans. Because the location is counted now – then the next counting of the item will be postponed.
Opportunistic counting is an valuable supplement to the cycle count plans and should be considered / deployed together with the cycle count plans, when implementing D365O. Note that the examples above are also supported in AX 2012 R3.