This question's all about how warehousing works, to some degree, which we probably haven't touched on too much 'cause we really only spoken about the transport side of it.
So it's a full warehousing system and what a warehousing system does is it tracks in and out of products. It also tracks where they are inside the warehouse, and it often tracks other things too, like expiry dates and batch numbers, you know, when the stock arrived, and handles things like making sure that the stock which arrived the first will go out first, or the stock that arrived with the earliest expiry date will get shipped out first to make sure that you don't have stuff sitting on your shelves which just goes bad.
So the way that the system handles stuff coming in is that the client, the customer will normally create what's called purchase order. Now, purchase order is like, it's just basically data saying that all of these different products in these quantities are due to arrive at your warehouse.
Now they can send that through via email or they can log into the system and just key it straight into the application. Then what happens is the actual guys who run the warehouse, they'll say "Yeah, cool. There's a new purchase order and it's supposed to be coming in on this day." When the stock arrives, the first thing that they do is that they mark that purchase order as received.
That immediately triggers out an email notification to the customer to tell them this stock's just come in, but it'll also say you'll receive another email shortly once we're finished checking everything off, because what these guys have to do is they can't just believe what the customer says when they say we're going to send you ten of these. Part of a good warehousing practice is that you actually go through and check: is everything here that they told me was going to be here?
And to do that they can use the mobile phone apps or they can use the application from a tablet. Or they can literally just print out a form and write down what they've got and then go back to the computer and make changes, but that's a little bit slower.
So they'll check all that sort of stuff off and then when they finish that process, that's considered what we call verification, meaning we've checked everything, it's all good. And, at that point, it sends another email back to the customer as well, saying we've finished checking this off, here's what came in and here's a list of any differences between what you told us was going to come and what actually came in. So if you told me "Oh, you're going to receive ten cans of tomatoes" and I actually got 20, you'd get an email straightaway saying 20 cans of tomatoes came in, not ten, so that you're aware that this change was made.
From there, the guys in the warehouse can do what we call allocation, which is where they actually go around and they would put it into a specific location. So normally they can do this by scanning, or they can do this just by entering the location number into the system. If you've ever been in a warehouse with lots and lots of pallet racking, you'll know that locations typically have labels on them. Now these can be, normally, they're numerical, so they'll be something like A0101 and that determines where it is, what height it is, and how far back it is in the warehouse.
And they'll go in and say "Okay, yup, I've just put this pallet of tomatoes straight into A0101" and record that in the software. And then, from then on, all of that stock is available for going back out again.
So on the outwards process, it's very similar. A client would send in an order, which we call a sale order, and this is for stock which is going out of the warehouse. Just like the purchase order, it comes in but then it will actually look at what items are required and automatically start to allocate different stock which is in the warehouse to those orders. So if the person orders, I want eight - I don't know - eight cans of tomatoes, then the system might go "Okay, cool. I've got a total of a hundred cans of tomatoes. I've got 20 which are due to expire in week's time and I've got 80 which are due to expire in two week's time." And so it would go, oh well, the 20 which are due to expire in a week's time, they're going to go out first, so we're then going to associate eight of those to this order and then that order would go straight into the system.
From there, I mean, what we really improved on here is the guys in the warehouse would then receive this order straight on to their mobile phone or on to a tablet and they can then go out and just pick it immediately from the shelf. So the information on the screen tells them you need to go here, you need to pick ten of this product, blah blah blah, put that into the box, and they can press a button to print out a label. From there, that immediately becomes a transport job.
So I guess the advantage of having both a warehousing and transport system all together is that you get the data from the warehouse going straight into the transport system without having to have any sort of integration or people keying the data across which is really useful.