When a Line Is Not a Line

Supply chain terms and terminology can get confusing.

confused dog.jpgHow?

Take the term "line." What is a line?

Your customer sends your sales department a purchase order for 20 different products you sell. Each product on the PO is a PO line.

Your customer service group enters the PO into your order management system to create a sales order. Each item in the order becomes an SO line.

The SO drops into your warehouse management system, and each item is a WO line.

Your WMS prints the pick tickets, creating a line for each item that is in stock—these are pick lines.

Your warehouse picks and ships the product, creating an invoice. Each item on the invoice is an invoice line.

They should be all the same, right? Not in some systems. In fact, in many cases one kind of line can be more or less than another. Confused? Let’s look at an example.

Your customer sends a PO with 20 PO lines. They have not done a good job maintaining their system, and they ordered a product that your company does not carry anymore, so the Sale Order only has 19 SO Lines.

The SO drops into the WMS. Of the 19 remaining lines, only 17 are in stock. The warehouse order has 19 lines, but when it prints the pick list there are only 17 lines.

Now assume that your system allows for random pick locations for full pallet picks. The customer ordered a line in a huge quantity—1,000 units. You carry the product in pallets of 50, so the system creates 20 pick lines to pull just those pallets, and then 16 for the rest of the order, so there are 36 total pick lines.

In the pick, the order selector fails to pick one line—the last piece is broken. Only 16 lines get invoiced to the customer.

Now, how many lines got shipped to the customer? The customer ordered 20 lines, your operations picked 36 and shipped 16. The customer will score you with a 75% fill rate—and internally the DC could claim 84%.

Can you imagine the beatings managers take over misinterpretation of numbers? And over something so simple as a line?

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