Type: New Feature
Status: Patch Available
Affects Version/s: Release Branch 15.12, Release Branch 16.11, Release Branch 18.12, Release Branch 17.12, Trunk
Fix Version/s: None
At the onset let me define a few terms clearly as I mean it in the story description below :
Requirement - A request generated for a particular product for a specific quantity that needs to be purchased from a supplier for satisfying certain inventory needs of a particular facility.
Replenishment - A request generated for a particular product for a specific quantity that needs to be transferred from a "backup facility" for satisfying certain inventory needs of a particular facility.
Fulfilment - The process of reserving, picking, packing and shipping the ordered quantity of product(s) as per a sales order.
Terms 'warehouse' and 'facility' have been used interchangeably.
The Use Case:
Consider a scenario wherein there is a website and a physical retail store of the same Company.
Each having its own facility i.e. 1:1 mapping.
Store A (webstore) -> associated with facility 1 (webstore facility)
Store B (retailstore) -> associated with facility 2 (retailstore facility)
However, both the stores share the same catalog/products. But both have independent inventory requirement and replenishment rules for the same product.
There is a Requirement Method Enum ID (RMEI) of each product which is applicable irrespective of the store and supersedes the RMEI defined, if any, on a store.
A product's inventory thresholds (Minimum Stock, Reorder Quantity) are independently managed via the facilities tab for the product. A product has its ATP and QOH levels on a per facility basis. Do note that all these inventory numbers are at a facility level and has no bearing at a store level.
Where the difficulty crops up with the current implementation is the way requirements are generated. A product can have only one RMEI. When an order is placed from any store, then based on the combination of a product's RMEI and the store mapped facility's inventory threshold, requirements are generated. This is without consideration of the inventory status (surplus or otherwise) at another facility of the same Company. If a store has multiple facilities associated with it then the one defined in the ProductStore entity -> inventoryFacilityId field would be considered for picking the inventory threshold values and thus for requirement generation.
Most typical real-world facility arrangements:
1. Usually an organisation would have a main facility/warehouse where all the purchases are received and sub-facilities which are replenished from the main facility after QA, internal processes, etc. OR
2. For each product there would be a primary facility where the product is received from the supplier (to derive benefits of demographic convenience and consumption patterns) and then replenished to other facilities on a demand based pull basis.
To drive efficiencies across an organisation they need methods to consider open fulfilment needs, in process purchase orders and inventory levels across multiple facilities and thereafter propose inventory transfers across them to facilitate better stocking and thus order fulfilment.
Coming back to our use case, the webstore warehouse is the main facility at which incoming shipments from suppliers are received for the entire Company but sales order fulfilment happens only for the webstore. The retail warehouse is primarily 're-stocked' via replenishment requests raised upon the webstore warehouse and thus need not issue direct purchase orders to suppliers. However, if the need be, requirement generated based on the product's RMEI and the retail facility's inventory thresholds can also be approved, converted into Purchase order and issued.
There doesn't seem to be an out of the box solution for this in OFBiz. This could work if either we think of -
Approach A: Setting RMEI at a ProductFacility level as well which shall supersede the Product level RMEI setting OR
Approach B: Build in support for a solution that I have encountered in Opentaps (a system built atop OFBiz) i.e. implement support for a new setting Replenishment Method Enum ID (RPMEI) and the concept of Backup Facility.
The obvious difficulty with Approach A could be the need to modify existing logic everywhere RMEI is being used and may be difficult to implement and validate (must confess that I have not given this approach much more thought). On the contrary the Approach B seems a safer method to add this feature with minimum possibility of breaking existing functionality.
Herein is the Approach B in detail-
Introduce a ProductFacility specific Replenishment Method Enum ID (RPMEI) with values such as -
*Code snippets are from Opentaps*
and extend the entity ProductFacility -
Create new entities -
Hence now we can define a replenishment method at a product level and that too on a per facility basis.
Additional now we can provision for defining of backup facility for any facility. (May consider using the parentFacilityId available on the Facility entity but am not sure about its purpose and there is no way to define the relation between the parent and child.)
We have to safeguard these:
1. There should be no direct or indirect cyclic backup facility relation between any 2 facilities due to backup facility relation definition.
2. There should be no direct or indirect cyclic replenishment facility relation created due to defining of replenishFromFacilityId in a ProductFacility entry for a product.
Now when an order is placed on the retail store and ATP falls below Minimum Stock at the primary facility mapped to the retail store, then depending on the product's or store's RMEI setting combined with the facility's inventory thresholds a purchase requirement may be generated. However, we are not interested in this and may even block the generation of such a purchase requirement for product's which have a RPMEI defined for a particular facility.
Instead on a subsequent MRP run for the retailstore facility, based on the open sales orders, we should generate/propose 'Inventory transfer requirement' from the backup facility or the replenishFromFacilityId depending on what's defined in the ProductFacility entity.
This solution should hold good even in the case of many:many mapping between stores and facilities as existing implementation is to reserve inventory against the facility that is mapped to the store via inventoryFacilityId. Hence there is no chance of the same sales order resulting in redundant requirements on multiple facilities.
And since the RPMEI (Replenishment Method Enum Id) is defined at the ProductFacility level there is no possibility of a general setting of RPMEI at a facility or store level to compete with.
This seems to be a rather important feature without which many businesses operating brick and mortar stores as well as an ecommerce web-front can't favourable use OFBiz.