ERP systems usually handle all inventory and procurement processes. However when there is a requirement for traceability down to a handling unit level (e.g. pallets, containers, boxes, crates) ERP systems need to be extended. This can be done with additional modules in the ERP system or with external warehouse management systems, but increasingly it is being done in MES systems.

The benefit of working at the MES level is that all materials can be tracked in one system: from goods receipt, through consumption in manufacturing processes, to the creation of WIP and finished goods and finally to shipping. Not only does that support complete traceability, it also allows the inventory consumed and created information to be used in the wider MES environment for example; production counting, quality and OEE.

ERP systems tend to be centrally deployed from the corporate data center; users in remote facilities connect over the corporate WAN. For most transactions any latency to the users is acceptable, but in the manufacturing environment operators, fork lift truck drivers, logistics workers have no time to wait if the response of the scanning transactions is slow.

Even worse, if the connection to the ERP system is lost (for example ERP maintenance, WAN outage) then manufacturing might have to stop. A local MES system provides business continuity.


The Warehousing/Logistics Module of Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition is an extension of the Inventory Module; it builds upon it to provide:

  • In-bound deliveries
    • Download from the ERP system expected in-bound deliveries from suppliers. Deliveries can be in terms of line items and quantities or down to the level of individual handling units (e.g. pallets, containers, boxes, crates). This level of detail may come though EDI when your suppliers send you details of materials shipped, including traceability information.
    • When deliveries arrive, unload the goods and using scanners, validate the goods received against the planned deliveries.
    • Send a message back to the ERP system to confirm the in-bound delivery.
    • Assign new serialised numbers to uniquely identify each handling unit (container, pallet…) of incoming goods so that materials can be tracked through the facilities and processes.
    • Move the incoming goods to locations/bins.
  • Out-bound deliveries
    • Download from the ERP system expected out-bound deliveries to customers or other facilities.
    • Fork lift drivers select from prioritised shipping lists and then work through picking lists, scanning the handling units as the goods are loaded onto transport.
    • Validate the out-bound order is correct and complete.
    • Send a message back to the ERP system to confirm an out-bound delivery.
  • Warehouse and local stores management
    • Tracks all materials in the warehouse or local stores.
    • Provides dashboards showing summaries of stock levels, expected in-bound and out-bound deliveries.
  • Movement Orders
    • Movement orders can be generated from workstations in manufacturing to request the replenishment of raw materials and WIP materials to consume. These orders can be requested manually or automatically as material is consumed.
    • Workers work from prioritised lists to select a movement order and from there work through picking lists to load a set of materials onto internal transport.
    • Movement orders use additional master data to decide how the order has to be fulfilled, like minimum quantities, packaging, ship to locations, timescales.
    • Materials can be repackaged for convenience, e.g. boxes loaded onto pallets for convenience and the pallet scanned onto and off the movement order.
  • Packaging and hierarchical handling units
    • It is possible to have a hierarchy of inventory, for example serialised items in a box, boxes on a pallet. This allows the highest container to be scanned and the system applies the logic to all items in the hierarchy, e.g. move, isolate.

When Used with Other Modules

  • When used with the Inventory Consumed and/or Build Traceability modules, material replenishment orders (movement orders) can be automatically generated as materials are consumed in manufacturing.
  • When used with the Ticket Printing module, new bar-code labels print in a standard format
  • When used with the Quality module, incoming goods can be inspected according to a control plan.


  • Business continuity – provide business continuity in manufacturing in the case of lost connection to the ERP system (e.g. ERP maintenance or WAN outage).
  • End to end traceability – at handling unit and serialised part level. Know when materials arrived, where they were stored, where they were consumed, what was created (WIP or Finished Goods), be fully informed of what happened to created materials all the way through to shipping.
  • Stock control – greater control of inventory – down at a handling unit level
  • Facilitate lean logistics – movement orders pulling materials from warehousing and stores