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Monitor and analyse current and future warehouse space utilization with Dynamics AX 2012 R2

It’s the warehouse managers’ responsibility to make sure that sufficient space is available for all goods that are to be stored in the warehouses that they control. This can be a challenging task. Warehouse space is expensive, and warehouse managers must avoid an excess of free space and on the other hand they must make sure that space is available at the time when goods arrive at the warehouse locations.

In some industries, a shortage of space at the time when goods arrive at a warehouse location can result in huge financial losses for a company. If, for example, there is not space in a warehouse when a truck load of frozen fish arrives, the warehouse manager cannot just unload the fish on the parking lot outside the buildings. Possible solutions to the problem would be to redirect goods to another warehouse owned by the company, to buy inventory space at the warehouse hotels, or, if there are no other options, to send the goods back.

All of the solutions mentioned above to the problem of not being able to store goods due to a lack of available warehouse space, will result in added expenses for the warehouse and they might even result in goods not being available for customers or the production.

What is important for the warehouse manager is to be able to quickly get an overview of the current space utilization in terms of, for example, pallets, volume or weight and to be able to project the future space utilization based on transactions generated by master planning.

In Dynamics AX 2012 R2, a new report provides a possibility of short and long term operation planning for current and future space utilization of a warehouse.

How the space utilization feature can help the warehouse manager

As already mentioned, warehouse managers manage the space that is available in the warehouse and they must make sure that the inbound products can be stored in the warehouse. Information about current and forecasted space utilization can enable the warehouse manager to make decisions about where items should be stored. The new report can help the warehouse manager to identify problems with missing space for items that will arrive today or in the future and it can provide insights in transaction details that are related to an excess of unused space.

To avoid space related issues, the warehouse manager can analyze the amount of capacity that the warehouse or warehouses are currently using and the amount they will use in the future. The warehouse manager can get a detailed overview of the transactions that cause space management issues, and maybe these issues can be avoided by using projections that allow more lead time.

The space utilization feature in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 can display the current capacity of a warehouse and the projected capacity of the future. Capacity can be displayed in pallets (if advanced WMS is used), weight, or volume. Forecasted capacity is based on a master plan and other space utilization settings as defined by the warehouse manager. This will be covered in the sections below.

The warehouse manager can:

· Choose a master plan based on the need of a space utilization analysis.

· Select how many days of future space need to be calculated

· Specify if either planned or confirmed transactions or both should be included in the report.

Space utilization is calculated from transactions that are generated by a master plan for the warehouse. The calculation model uses the space utilization situation in the warehouse from before the last MRP run. All of the transactions that are to happen on that warehouse space are calculated no matter if they are planned or confirmed. The result as it would look by the end of the day is shown in percentage vs. maximal space available. The result can be viewed in pallets, volume, or weight provided that this information is set up correctly for all of the products.

· Check the setting of the products on the Manage inventory fast tab in the Released product details form under Product information management.

Reports provide warning functionality for master data configurations. For example, say that the warehouse space utilization report is viewed in a unit volume and there is a purchase order line with an item that does not have any setup for physical dimensions. In this case a warning will be shown for this instance and for all similar cases. A detailed report will be generated for all of the missing inventory item setups. If items do not have fallback warehouses, this will be included in the report as well. A warning icon on the report indicates to the warehouse manager that calculations might not be precise and that a fallback warehouse or some inventory item setups are missing.

How to use the space utilization feature

To use the Space utilization feature in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2, you must complete the following three steps. Also, data from at least one master plan must be created before the report can be generated.

Master planning > Periodic> Master scheduling


Figure 1

Configure and run the report:

1. Configure one or more space utilization setup templates.

2. Run the Schedule load utilization periodic job.

3. Analyze the space utilization information. This can be accomplished in one of two ways:

1. Run the Warehouse load utilization report from Inventory and warehouse management in Dynamics AX 2012 R2.

2. View the report in the Space utilization web part in the Warehouse manager role center.

1. Configure one or more space utilization setup templates.

Click Inventory and warehouse management > Setup > Warehouse reports > Space utilization.


Figure 2

From the Schedule load utilization form, you can create any number of space utilization setups and switch between the setups.

Space utilization: Enter the space utilization ID.

Name: Enter the space utilization name.

Storage load mode: In the Storage load field, you can select Warehouse, Zone or warehouse and Zone. This field is used to determine the output of the report. For example, if you select Warehouse, one line is printed for each warehouse. If you select Zone, one line is printed for each store zone. If you select Warehouse and zone, one line is printed for each warehouse and store zone combination.

Exclude blocked locations: When this check box is selected, the report will not include capacity for a location that is locked by the inventory blocking feature.

Location type: Select location types to be used as available allowed space. The information on the Location type FastTab is used when you run the Schedule load utilization periodic job in step 2 below. When the current and forecasted capacity is calculated, only location types that are selected are analyzed.

Note: The setup only needs to be created once.

2. Run the Schedule load utilization periodic job.

Open Inventory and warehouse management > Periodic > Schedule load utilization.


Figure 3

Master plan: Select the master plan that you want to use for space utilization calculations.

Note: the warehouse manager can shift to another master plan at any time. This is useful in order to determine how the space utilization will look if the planning team decides to change to another plan.

Number of days: Enter the number of days that you want to project and analyze warehouse space utilization for in the future. The current report shows space utilization for 10 days in the future.

Space utilization: Select the space utilization configuration to be used in combination with the number of days and the master plan that is selected in step 1.

Click OK to generate data for the report.

Use the options on the Batch tab to schedule the generation of data for report as a batch process. Normally the batch process is set to run automatically once a day after the master planning has been completed.

3. Analyze the space utilization information (generated in step 2).

As mentioned previously, the report can be viewed from the warehouse manager’s role center (out-of-the-box), or from the Dynamics AX client. This description is based on Dynamics AX 2012 R2 client.

Note: To be able to view the report from the warehouse manager’s role center page, the configuration and generation of data in step 1 and 2 must be completed.

Complete the following setup to run the report:

Open Inventory and warehouse management > Reports > Analysis > Warehouse load utilization.


Figure 4

Show by: Use this field to determine how the rows of the report are displayed. If you select Site, one row is printed for each site. If you select Load unit, the Storage load field on the Space utilization setup template is used to determine how the rows are printed (Warehouse, Zone or Warehouse and Zone). If you select Site, a report will be generated on the site level where each site can contain load units of the types Warehouse, Zones, and Warehouse and zone.

Site: Select one or more sites.

Load unit: When one or more sites and a space utilization setup are selected, load units are displayed for all the sites that are selected under Site. The Load unit field only applies if the Show by field is set to Load unit and the Space utilization setup field is selected. The options in the Load unit field varies based on the option selected in the Storage load field for the current space utilization setup. For example, if storage load is set to Zone, a list of store zones is displayed in the Load unit field.

Load type: Indicate if the report percentages should be calculated and viewed using pallet, volume or weight.

Space utilization setup: Select the space utilization setup that should be used for the report.

Click OK to run the report.

Example of a generated report


Figure 5

In the example above, the report shows what site we are looking at, what load units have been selected, and what load type we are using.

The report is generate by a load unit combination of warehouse and zones as specified in the selected warehouse space utilization configuration. The combination of warehouse and zones basically means that the warehouse capacity is divided by a unique combination of warehouse and zone. In this example, the warehouse manager can monitor space utilization for each zone and, at the same time, identify the warehouse of the zone.

If there is an intersection between zones and they share the same location in one warehouse, they will automatically be grouped in one single load unit and capacities for the intersections are not counted twice. In the example, the load unit on warehouse WH1 combines two zones, Z1 and Z2, due to an intersection.

When looking at the table columns, the column to the far left is the space utilization situation by the end of the current day. The other columns represent the future with increments of one day each. If a load unit exceeds the maximum space available, the color of the cells turns red. This will happen if, when all transactions are conducted on a particular day, the total available space on the load unit is less than what is needed to store the goods by the end of the day.

Every single table cell can be clicked regardless of the color. The color indicates when and where there is or will be a problem with space utilization.

When one cell is selected, a new report is shown with a list of all of the transactions that are to be conducted on that day, grouped by regular issues, receipts, and backlog transactions, if any.

Backlog transactions are transactions that should have been conducted before the current day. Backlog transactions are not displayed for each cell in the report, but if any backlog transactions exist it will be indicated by an icon for the particular load unit. If you then select the icon, a report with list of backlog transactions will be generated.

Transactions that occupy the largest part of the space are shown on top in the detailed view of the report. This helps the warehouse manager identify transactions that must be accommodated or moved to another date in order to avoid space utilization problems.

Example of a detailed report view

Open this view by clicking a cell in the report:


Figure 6

A warning icon is displayed for items that are part of the transactions but which cannot be calculated correctly due to insufficient setup information as presented on Figure 5.

If you select the warning icon, reports will be generated with information about the setup that must be completed in order to calculate transactions correctly.

There can be may be many reasons why space utilization calculations cannot be completed correctly for all transactions.

The yellow warning icons indicate if the numbers of the report can be trusted or not. By selecting a warning icon you can then identify the missing setup, correct the problem, and rerun the report again.

Warning icons will be shown in the following situations:

· Warehouse item setup is not correct.

· Pallet conversion has not been set.

· The Weight of an item has not been specified.

· The volume of an item has not been specified.

· A fallback warehouse has not been specified.

Example of a missing setup report

When you select a warning sign, the report representing the Deficiency types in data setup t might look like this:


Figure 7

From this report it appears that on Warehouse WH3 we have two items missing pallet conversion and two Items missing warehouse item setup.

These missing setups need to be corrected and after warehouse space utilization report can be selected and warning icon wil not be there anymore, wich means that we can trust calculations and numbers presented in a report.