How do allocation rules affect your operations?

Hello, fellow Infoplus users!

Inventory allocation is a critical aspect of Infoplus fulfillment operations, and it’s essential to understand how it works to ensure smooth order processing. In this post, we’ll dive into the nuances of inventory allocation, shedding light on various settings and configurations that empower you to take full control of your fulfillment processes. We also have a very extensive knowledge base article on this topic that we recommend you review.

To simplify how allocation works within Infoplus, we came up with what we call the Infoplus Allocation Formula. That is:

Location Settings + Item Settings + Fulfillment Plan Settings = Allocation Results.

Tweaking any variable in this formula will impact the results for allocation. Let’s quickly review each variable at play.

Location Settings: although there are quite a few fields on each location record, the three fields that impact allocation are location behavior type, location cost and priority.

Item Settings: for item settings, it’s fair to say that the “operations” tab is going to be what you need to spend the most focus and thought on. The first thing you are going to see in the operations tab is some language around “mixing” rules. While this article does a pretty good job of explaining, some further context may help.

I would recommend first deciding on what the allocation rule needs to be for each item. Once you have determined that, then you know what your parameters are for lot mixing.

Labor Optimized is the most common allocation rule used among Infoplus customers. With Labor optimized selected, any combination of mixing rules will be accepted. This allows customers to make the most of their space with no mixing requirements.

Weak allows lot mixing within forward behavior types but does not allow lot mixing within standard location types. This allows our users to make the most of their “forward” space while keeping their standard locations segregated by receipt for FEFO/FIFO needs etc.

Strict is useful when you do not want to allow any lot mixing whatsoever. For example, If you have strict FIFO needs, using a strict allocation is the only way Infoplus can guarantee your picker is picking the oldest inventory. If you have weak or labor optimized, Infoplus will still be able to send your picker to the location with the oldest inventory, but if it is mixed with other receipts you run the risk of the user picking the wrong units.

Fulfillment Plan Settings: the two fields that have impact on allocation are the order smart filter and the location smart filter. Order smart filters impact allocation in two ways. First, if fulfillment plan automation is setup via scheduled plans, or the fulfillment plan is “manually ran” via the action menu, the order smart filter is used to determine what orders get pushed into the plan for processing. Subsequently, the max orders and batch options allow users to specify how many orders are pushed and batched together.

Location smart filters can be used if you want to determine specific areas of the warehouse that the allocation should happen from, regardless if there is available inventory elsewhere. imagine a customer with a single sku that they sell D2C to front doors but also B2C to big box retailers like Walmart and Target. As you can imagine, the way they process those orders are very different. This customer would likely set up a fulfillment plan specific to D2C and small parcel picking as well as a separate plan dedicated to B2B and case/pallet picking. If this customer has the warehouse setup properly, the D2C orders would be picked from easy to reach, forward locations while the B2B orders would be pulled from standard pallet or case locations. As the D2C area runs low, replenishments are created to keep pull stock from the pallets/cases but it never has pickers leaving their areas during the actual pick process.

Need to tell Infoplus what to allocate?
Infoplus offers an override receipts for fulfillment feature that can be utilized to tell Infoplus the exact units that should be allocated to an order, regardless of the allocation formula mentioned above.

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Can you explain a little more how “override receipts for fulfillment” works?

Let’s say our fulfillment plan for e-commerce orders uses a location smart filter for e-comm orders and is pick to cart by order with a max batch size of 15 (since our cart has 15 bins). We can see we have enough “available” inventory. What we can’t see when we run fulfillment is of the available inventory how many are in a pickable e-comm location and how many are not. What happens is when we run fulfillment it will error out because not all the inventory is in the e-comm zones. Is there a way to get visibility before we run fulfillment so we can move inventory from a non-pickable location, one that is outside the fulfillment plan smart filter, to a pickable e-comm location before we run fulfillment.

Would this override work for this scenario?

That’s a great question! First, using the “Override Receipts for Fulfillment” is a great way to make sure you are pulling inventory that might have some kind of shelf life to it. This means items like batteries, devices with batteries, or other consumable products that might expire sooner than others of the same SKU, can be selected first to fill the order. This can also be used to make sure that a product lot of items are used up before pulling from other product lots. The Override will indicate if an item is available, but it will not tell you if that Item is in a pickable location based on your Fulfillment Plan.

But don’t worry, there is a way of checking if the items you need for an order are in a location that you can use to fulfill this order.

On the Order record> select the Actions drop-down option in the upper right of the screen. In the list about 1/2 way down, you will see “Preview Fulfillment”. Select Preview Fulfillment, add the desired Fulfillment Plan, and click “Submit”. Once complete, this will tell you if the location filter attached to the Fulfillment Plan has the inventory necessary to complete the fulfillment process. A report will be produced giving you a number in either the “Fully Processed” column or in the “Will Not Process” column. A number in the Fully Processed column means you have sufficient inventory in the locations attached to the Fulfillment Plan to complete the order. You are now free to process that order with no issues. However, a number in the Will Not Process means that an aspect of your Fulfillment Plan is not compatible with something in the order. That means looking at your Location Filter or the Item record and seeing if you have enough inventory in the right locations.

OK, so why do I like using the Fulfillment Preview option? Because the Fulfillment Preview option is also found on the Order table in the same spot listed above. So, this allows you to select several orders in a group, run the Preview, and receive a report that you can use to run the Passed orders through, while someone else researches what it will take to get the Failed orders ready for fulfillment. I hope this helps.

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@Matthew That is absolutely perfect! That is the piece I’ve been missing. I had tried previewing fulfillment before but I didn’t have a clear understanding of what I was looking at. I see by looking at the tabs and by downloading the report I could see what items were not going to allocate.

Thanks so much!! Bravo Zulu!!