The company, part of the 3M group, says that it developed the software because manufacturers are under intense pressure to distribute as efficiently as possible. HighJump claims that its Container Advantage is the first comprehensive container optimisation solution in the supply chain execution (SCE) industry.
"Companies are increasingly looking for tools that will help them optimise distribution performance," said Chris Heim, HighJump Software president. "We are the first supply chain execution company to deliver a fully graphical optimisation tool integrated with WMS to intelligently build containers at all levels."
There is a lot of pressure on manufacturers to distribute efficiency. Order profile changes have created more split-case and full-case shipments, requiring greater precision in carton and pallet builds. And with freight costs spiralling out of control, the need to operate as efficiently as possible has never been greater.
In the US, freight rates are continuing to climb as shipping lines implement federal security regulations aimed at thwarting terrorism. Other costs including insurance, fuel, terminal charges and even container prices are also on the increase. A report on the container ship market by analyst Howe Robinson suggests that all this is creating a 'tonnage squeeze,' with ships available for charter certain to be in short supply in 2004. Some container lines will be forced to cut non-core services if they become unprofitable.
In addition, increased emphasis on 'the perfect order' has driven many companies to focus on reduction of product damage in shipping, which often occurs from poorly built pallets and trailers. More and more manufacturers are requiring vendors to follow specific rules for building cartons and pallets, and in some cases, ship store-ready or even aisle-ready pallets.
HighJump claims that its Container Advantage software provides a complete set of capabilities that empower companies to meet these and other operating challenges involved in container planning. Key features of the solution include a powerful rules-based engine that enables users to easily define specific processing rules by type of container, SKU, customer, etc.
In addition, 3-D graphical views of optimal container builds make it easier for operators to execute recommended container plans, and fully web-enabled architecture helps ensure fast, easy deployment. HighJump says that full support within HighJump's warehouse management solution helps ensure optimal container builds are fully integrated into order picking and trailer loading processes.
The software also offers multiple open integration points to enable easy integration with other distribution systems as required, such as parcel manifesting. The solution has also been designed to meet various challenges, such as heavy split-case picking requirements, automation systems that impose pallet-building constraints and the need to accommodate cartons that differ significantly in weight, which can cause damage if not stacked intelligently on the pallet.
"Optimisation of container builds in distribution across cartons, pallets and trailers is becoming increasingly important given growing complexity in shipping requirements and the need to reduce fulfilment and transportation costs," said Dwight Klappich, vice president, META Group.
"Vendors adding container planning capabilities as an extension of their warehouse management systems will become even more critical over the next few years as customer mandates and shipping efficiency demands increase."
HighJump Software, a 3M company, is a provider of supply chain execution solutions that streamline manufacturing and distribution from the point of source through consumption. 3M's businesses also include names such Scotch, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate and Dyneon.