Cartonization and Carton Level Details
Cartonization and Carton Level Details
Carton level details provide information associated with the picking tote or shipping carton that contains various items for an order. When picking an order into a carton, a tote, or container a unique license plate number (LPN) identifier label is applied. If the order is picked and it is in multiple cartons, the carton level details for each carton will be known by SKU/product number, and count.
Details such as lot number, expiration date and more may also be tracked to the associated LPN. For example, if there is an order for 12 items and five need to be placed in one carton, five in another, and two in a third, the carton level details track the detail for each carton, including quantity, lot numbers, expiration dates, etc. This can be a fundamental warehouse system requirement if the customer base requires that type of information.
Uses for Cartonization and Carton Level Details
Carton level details are necessary to support modern outbound advance ship notice (ASN) and its associated electronic data interchange (EDI) integration to support it. ASN refers to the ability of the system to communicate what is being shipped in advance and to identify by a license plate identifier and/or shipment identifier, exactly what is being shipped. EDI is the mechanism of passing and communicating the ASN data.
Carton level details are common in retail, e-commerce, and any industry that is using pick, pack, and ship. Particularly in retail, when distributing to retailers, there can be rather significant contractual fines for inaccuracies and not providing carton level details where the ASN must match exactly what is physically delivered. The distribution center or the retailer needs to be able to scan the license plate identifier and have everything that’s in that container be 100% accurate based on what was sent to them via EDI.
Cartonization is the process of determining the carton and/or carton sizes required to pick and place orders during or prior to the order pick process. The cartonization process calculates the size of the items being picked for the order and determines the number and size of the containers based on spatial volume. Automating this process increases productivity and accelerates throughput. It also forms the basis to begin to track carton level details to the particular carton for the order.
Most enterprise resource planning (ERP) and ERP warehouse management software (WMS) modules solutions do not support automated cartonization and the automated capture of carton level details during picking. As a result, they end up imposing additional labor on the operators to capture that information as part of a post pick process or pre-ship process. That can slow down the process, add more labor, and introduce errors. Ideally, cartonization is captured automatically during the picking process and before the repack process. This can happen if the warehouse execution system (WES) or warehouse control system (WCS) supports license plate identifiers and can track what is picked into the carton. Then, as the operator is picking into a carton with a license plate identifier, carton level details are automatically being captured during the picking process.
Many warehouses use a repack process to capture this information. The repack process forces the removal of an item that has been picked out of a carton or tote and moved into a different shipment identifier to both verify and manually capture carton level details. ERP and ERP WMS modules have difficulty with automating cartonization and automating carton level details in advance of this repack process. Intek and Minerva’s WMS, WES, and WCS solutions allow for automatic cartonization with a variety of automated systems and deliver the carton details as required without additional post pick labor. Even when a post pick verification and/or repack is required from a business standpoint, it is much more efficient and accurate when all carton level details are captured automatically during picking.