Sales Order Picking and Release to Warehouse Options with Advanced WMS in Microsoft Dynamics AX

May 24 2016

Editor's Note:  This represents the second of a 3-part series about sales order picking/shipping, and is drawn from the Essential Guide for Advanced Warehouse Management using Microsoft Dynamics AX: 2016 Edition. A previous article described the series of Essential Guides.

Sales order picking/shipping activities often represent some of the most critical warehouse management processes within manufacturing and distribution companies. When using the Advanced WMS capabilities within AX, the release to warehouse step represents a key part of this business process, and it automatically updates the "Release Status" for a sales order. There are multiple options for performing the release to warehouse and the use of selection criteria. An additional factor termed the fulfillment rate applies to each option. These considerations are reflected in the following topics within the article.

  1. Options for Release to Warehouse
  2. Selection Criteria About Sales Orders for Release to Warehouse
  3. Significance of the Fulfillment Rate for Release to Warehouse
  4. Identify Errors related to the Release to Warehouse step

This series of articles focuses on the Advanced WMS capabilities within AX 2012 R3 and the new Dynamics AX, and how they support variations in the sales order picking/shipping process. The first article described a basic process for sales order picking, and explained the related life cycles, reversing transactions and key constructs. The basic process illustrated one option for the release to warehouse step, and provides a baseline for explaining the other options.

1. Options for Release to Warehouse for Sales Orders 

The release to warehouse step has four options which reflect two basic factors. The first factor involves the prerequisite for reserved inventory. The inventory must be reserved beforehand for two options, whereas the other two options allow you to defer reservations until the release to warehouse step. In addition, the rules concerning a fulfillment rate allow a sales order to be released to the warehouse with partial reservations of the ordered quantities. The second factor involves the approach for performing the release to warehouse step, and the various approaches are reflected in the following four options.

Option 1: Perform Release to Warehouse for Selected Sales Order Lines Using the Release to Warehouse Form  The Release To Warehouse form can be used to view a subset of open sales order lines based on selection criteria -- such as the ship-from warehouse, ship date and delivery mode. Selected sale order lines can then be released to the warehouse, but only when they have been reserved beforehand. It is typically used to anticipate shipping requirements and to initiate required picking activities, and it only supports the release to warehouse step. This option was employed in the basic process for sales order picking/shipping.

Option 2: Perform Release to Warehouse from a Sales Order   The release to warehouse step can be performed from the Sales Order form, typically at the completion of the order entry process by the customer service rep. The release step applies to all lines on the sales order and inventory must be reserved for all lines.

Option 3: Perform Automatic Release to Warehouse with Selection Criteria for Sales Order Lines The Automatic Release to Warehouse task can be performed on a periodic basis, where selection criteria determine the applicable sales order lines. Inventory for each line item must be reserved beforehand unless a warehouse-specific policy (labeled "Reserve when orders are released by a batch job") allows deferred reservations at the time of the release to warehouse step. Different sets of selection criteria can support variations in decisions about the release to warehouse.

Option 4: Perform Release to Warehouse for a Selected Load Using the Load Planning Workbench The Load Planning Workbench form can be used to view a subset of open sales order lines based on selection criteria -- such as the ship-from warehouse, ship date and delivery mode. Selected sale order lines can then be assigned to a new load, or to an existing load, and information about loads are displayed in the bottom half of the form. When applicable, you can assign a rate/route to the outbound load.

You can view and filter the loads, and then release a selected load to the warehouse. Inventory for each sales order line within the load must be reserved beforehand unless a warehouse-specific policy (labeled "Reserve inventory at load posting") allows deferred reservations at the time of the release to warehouse step.

Selection criteria about open sales lines (and also loads) can be identified by filtering options at the top of the form (such as the ship-from warehouse and ship date) or by using grid filters. In addition, you can optionally predefine filters about sales orders and loads with the user-defined Load Planning Filters.

Release Status of a Sales Order  Each of the above-mentioned options can update the release status of a sales order. The possible values for the release status include the following.

  • Open. The status indicates the sales order has not yet been released to warehouse.
  • Released. The status indicates that all sales order line items have been released to the warehouse.
  • Partially Released. The status indicates that some of the sales order lines items have been released to warehouse.

Several types of reversing transactions can change the status from Released back to Partially Released or even Open. For example, the reversing transactions include unpicking a selected load line or reversing the reported picking work.

2. Selection Criteria about Sales Orders for the Release to Warehouse Step 

Selection criteria about sales order lines can be used with three of the options for the release to warehouse step. Examples of these selection criteria are summarized in Figure 1 and described below. The figure indicates the applicable constructs for each selection criteria, such as the sales order line or header. It also highlights several selection criteria (via shading) which provide the basis for prioritizing picking/shipping activities, such as the ship date and mode of delivery for a sales line.

Example Selection Criteria for Release to Warehouse for Sales Orders 

  • Ship-From Site and Warehouse. The ship-from site and warehouse provide an organizing focus for picking/shipping activities.
  • Ship Date. The ship date provides the primary basis for scheduling and prioritizing the picking/shipping activities, and is frequently used in conjunction with other prioritization criteria. The confirmed ship date is typically used, although the requested ship date may be used in some cases.
  • Mode of Delivery. The mode of delivery provides another organizing focus for picking/shipping activities, especially when preparing shipments for a scheduled pickup time. A sales order may have multiple picking lists that reflect different delivery modes on sales lines. A delivery mode may reflect faster or expedited delivery, and can be associated with an Expedite Code.
  • Shipping Carrier and Carrier Service. The shipping carrier and carrier service can be used as an organizing focus of picking/shipping activities, especially when preparing shipments for a scheduled pickup time by the carrier.
  • Expedited Shipment Flag. The expedite shipment flag can only be assigned to a sales order header, and it provides an additional basis for expediting. As the primary purpose, it works in conjunction with the shipping carrier assigned to a sales order in order to include the carrier's shipping charges (for expedited shipment) when they are normally considered as free for orders exceeding a specified total amount.
  • Customer Classification Group. A user-defined customer classification group can be assigned to a customer, and it provides one basis for selecting sales lines when using the Automatic Release to Warehouse approach.
  • Customer. A selected customer provides another organizing focus for picking/shipping activities, such as generating picking lists for shipping sales orders to a customer.
  • Ship-to Address Information. Various elements of the address can be used as an organizing focus of picking/shipping activities, such as shipping sales orders (or loads) to the same address.

3. Significance of the Fulfillment Rate on the Release to Warehouse Step   

A set of rules about a fulfillment rate allows a sales order to be released to the warehouse with partial reservations of the ordered quantities rather than being fully reserved. The rules apply to all four options of the release to warehouse step. For example, a fulfillment rate of 90% means that the total of reserved quantities for all sales lines must be 90% or greater that the total of the ordered quantities. The fulfillment rate can apply to the total quantity or total value (quantity times price) of a sales order's lines. In either case, it is possible that the reservations for a given line on a multiline sales order may not meet the fulfillment rate but the overall sales order does.

A related policy (labeled the "fulfillment violations message") determines whether an exception for the fulfillment rate will prevent the release to warehouse for a sales order, or simply provide a warning (or no message) while still allowing the release. When prevented, an example error message would be "A fulfillment rate of 90% was not met for sales order 12345," and the message is displayed after attempting to release to warehouse.

The set of rules about a fulfillment rate can be defined as a companywide policy (as part of the Accounts Receivable Parameters), and optionally overridden as a customer-specific set of rules. The set of rules do not apply when using a fulfillment rate of 0% and/or a fulfillment violation message policy of "none."    

4. Identify Errors Related to the Release to Warehouse Step 

Several types of errors can be identified by the release to warehouse step, and they must be corrected in order to successfully perform the release. The lack of reserved inventory represents a common error. Other types of errors include missing address information for the customer and missing a load template when releasing a load. When using the Load Planning Workbench, you can first validate a load and then review any errors prior to releasing the load to the warehouse.

5. Summary 

This series of articles focuses on the Advanced WMS capabilities within AX, and how they support variations in the sales order picking/shipping process. The first part reviewed a basic process for sales order picking, and explained the related life cycles, reversing transactions and key constructs. This second part reviewed the options for the release to warehouse step, and the third part reviews the wave picking variations. Additional variations of sales order picking are provided in the Essential Guide for Advanced Warehouse Management.

The release to warehouse step represents a key part of any business process for sales order picking/shipping, and it automatically updates the release status for a sales order. This article summarized the four major options for performing the release to warehouse step and the use of selection criteria. It also covered the impact of the fulfillment rate, and the identification of errors that prevent the release to warehouse. 

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About Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton has consulted globally with several hundred manufacturing/distribution companies on SCM and ERP issues. His publications include multiple books about SCM using Dynamics AX as well as two textbooks about SCM/ERP, and his books have been translated into Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. For more than 10 years, Scott has been a frequent speaker at Microsoft and AXUG conferences around the world, and a multi-year winner of the rarely given Microsoft MVP award for Dynamics AX. His regular column “The AX Solution Architect” is published in MSDynamicsWorld.com.

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