Sumit Potbhare: Retail Outbound Manifesting in D365 | Approach to D365 for Commerce with Adv WH Mgmt
Hi Guys, I hope you have read my previous post where we have seen the Packing operation in D365 FO. In this blog, we will go to our next stop on the roadmap which is manifesting. Manifesting again is the process of printing a carrier compliance label and applying it to a package or box that needs to travel via a small parcel carrier. As we go through this blog we will see how hard it is to illustrate this process in D365 FO directly out of the box. It will be more apparent as we go forward here and explain how manifesting takes place.
Manifesting options used by Retailers
If you look at the process of manifesting there’s really three ways to do it.
In the first way, you preprint the packing slips that you’re going to put inside the box or the bag going to the consumer or the store. And on that packing slip, you will have the carrier compliance label. It will be generated at wave planning time when this packing slip is printed out based on the estimated weight of the package. And so you will have the carrier compliance label in a way that it can peel away from the rest of the invoice and be applied to the package.
The second way that manifesting can get implemented, is that you can put at every packing station a scale like you see in the picture, and a label printer, so that as soon as the operator finishes scanning all the items that are in the order, and it is correct, they can put it in a box, put it on the scale, and the scale will weigh it and it will then generate a carrier compliance label out of the label printer there. But this requires that you have a scale and a label printer at every single packing station, which is, you know, a couple grand worth of capital expense. It also takes up a lot of space.
The third way is, you can have a separate manifesting workstation that’s separate from the packing station where you end up having those, you can’t see it perhaps in this picture, but there is a label printer behind him right there, and here’s the scale. So you have that equipment there just at that manifesting station. And one manifesting station typically can support, 4 to 5 pack stations. And so many retailers like this because then they don’t have to buy as many scales and label printers. And they can also guarantee usually that they get a little bit better productivity by having somebody who regularly just does nothing but manifesting as opposed to trying to blend it in the packing process.
As far as D365 FO is concerned, the one that supports out-of-the-box is number two – Manifest at Packing. You can do number three, and there have been some retailers in D365 FO warehouse management sites that have done number three, but it usually requires, an interface to a third-party product. But let’s discuss first more about option number two because you might be wondering why didn’t we seen this in D365 FO. Because we really can’t. And let me explain why.
Option 2: Manifesting at Packing – How To
The reason we can’t really see the manifesting functionality in D365 FO is that it’s been disabled or disconnected, I guess. There is some code that calls the Microsoft Small Parcel Engine that talks over the Internet to carrier services, in particular, FedEx and UPS as well as others to obtain these shipping labels. So the code is there. It just has to be enabled or re-enabled.
The way it’s supposed to work is when you go to the pack screen, you’ve scanned everything into the box and you click the close container button that will trigger the Microsoft Small Parcel Engine to talk to the small parcel carrier and get the weights and all this other stuff that’s necessary to get this label back from them.
This trigger, however, right here, has been disconnected, as I understand it, so you have to reconnect it as a partner if you want to enable the out-of-the-box manifesting functionality. Again this manifesting functionality is for option two. It’s embedded in the packing process. There is no way to do manifesting as a separate step using the out-of-the-box functionality without enhancing significantly or more likely using a third-party product.
There is some more information on this that you need to probably reference if you are interested in following option two. What that information tells you is that the Microsoft Small Parcel Engine, out-of-the-box, will talk directly to either FedEx or UPS to get that carrier compliance label back. And then it comes back in a zebra-type format. This whole thing about how to re-enable the small parcel engine as well as how to use it to talk to other carriers and so forth is described in a great blog that Pawel Kruk did but this is for the older version of D365 FO which is AX 2012 but hopefully you can get some help out of this blog as well. So I would encourage you to go and read that if you are in a position that you want to implement this option too, that is manifesting at the pack station.
Option 3: Manifesting Separately – How To
Now it’s very possible that a retailer may want to manifest packages at a separate workstation, separate from the packing station. That’s possible to do it with the small parcel engine that comes with D365 FO if you are willing to build a manifesting form where that activity could occur. But it might be a little bit better option or a less expensive option to use a third-party manifesting application.
Essentially what that does is when the packer finishes and packs out the order and they close the container, that data about that package flows over to the third-party manifesting application. And so one of those items that flows to this third party application would be like the shipment ID. So when the manifesting operator puts a package on a scale and he scans that shipment ID, it triggers all the information for that package that was sent by D365 FO to the third-party manifesting software. And that information in turn gets sent to the small parcel carrier just like the small parcel engine that comes with D365 FO out-of-the-box. It has probably some other functionality too. There are some of these products that you can actually pack in and do some other things. But then the label comes back and prints out there. Again the reason retailers like to do this is that because they can avoid the expense of putting scales and label printers at every packing station. It also takes up a lot of space on the packing table. So a lot of them are very much interested in using a third-party application to avoid that expense and also to save on that space. So that’s something to keep in mind if you encounter a retailer that really is insistent on trying to manifest separately from the packing process. But again it will probably require some notable partner work in order to enable that capability, even for those products that have been interfaced to D365 FO before. So that’s something to dig in and estimate carefully.
And here we finish our Manifesting operation journey. So I hope you got a better understanding of the Retail Outbound Manifesting function, so it is easier for you when you go and implement the D365 FO Warehouse management module for the Retail Outbound processes.
In the next blog, we’re going to step further and discuss more areas on the Retail Outbound side and how these areas require Partner augmentation in order to execute them.
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