This article will show you how to use prekit groups and forecasting with your machines and markets in order to better predict product needs and optimize stocking and routing.
Prekit Groups are sets of rules for assigned machines to follow when calling for product, and they are typically determined by forecasting and estimated projections based on historical sales data.
In your VMS, you can navigate to Settings > Warehouse > Prekit Groups, where you will see your Default Prekit Group built out already with all the initially activated products. You are not limited in your number of prekit groups. These can be split up any number of ways, such as by Sales volume (e.g. high or low sellers), Markets/Machines, or also by Machine Type (e.g. Drinks, Snacks, Combos, etc.). This last category is especially common and useful for estimating prekitting needs, because you can add the same product to multiple prekit groups.
For example, you may have two drink machines, a stacker and a glassfront. They may both call for Sprite and Dr. Pepper in their prekitting, but a stacker might call for 48 of each (2 cases of 24 units) to reach parlevel, while a glassfront may call for a half-case of 12, because its slots carry far less of each product. Best practices for glassfronts do dictate a general quantity of 12-24 for each drink, but this difference in stocking needs means these machines would still largely benefit from being in different prekit groups, where the prekitting methods can be designated by case for the stacker and by unit or half-case for the glassfront.
Creating Prekit Groups
Before actually making prekit groups in the VMS, it is recommended that you have a plan of how you'd like to organize your groups and machines to best fit your operations' needs. Once ready, you can click the green button Prekit Group on the Prekit Groups page in order to create your first non-default group.
Name the group appropriately, mark the Always Prekit by Unit checkbox if you are calculating by units only and there is no minimum prekit, and then set your Forecast Factor if necessary.
Forecast factor is the number by which your estimated prekitting needs will be multiplied. For example, if your forecast factor is 2 and the route is planned for tomorrow, then your prekitting projection will be the normal prekit plus two days' worth of product according to a machine's historical sales.
Click Save to make the new prekit group.
From the Machine Types tab on the Prekit Groups page, you can select a default prekit group to assign machines/markets to upon creation.
Select a prekit group from the dropdown next to any of the machine types to assign all newly-created machines of that type to the group.
Assigning Products to Prekit Groups
To assign products to this new prekit group, you can navigate to your product catalog and filter for the products you need (for example, by Family or Type). From the Options dropdown, select a prekit group, click Copy to Prekit Group, and confirm. You can also select Bulk Edit from the dropdown, and adjust the Prekit Method and the Min Prekit quantity from here.
You can also update certain settings of your established prekit groups in the product catalog. Next to the Toggle Columns dropdown, you can select or switch the prekit group you would like to modify, seen in the image above. This will cause all products in that prekit group to be displayed on-screen.
Using Options > Bulk Edit, you can adjust these products' Prekit Method and/or Min Prekit in bulk.
Please note that any bulk changes made will affect ALL products displayed on-screen, and you will not be able to easily change them back. Please ensure that the filtered results are all products you wish to apply the change to.
Also, note that if you change the product settings for a product that is included in two prekit groups, only one adjustment will be able to be saved.
Assigning Machines/Markets to Prekit Groups
You can add machines or markets to your new prekit group individually or in bulk through the All Machines or All Markets pages. Filter for certain machines if necessary, and then use the checkboxes on the left to select only machines or markets you would like to change prekit groups. Once selected, click Options > Edit Prekit Group, and on the following pop-up select the intended prekit group from the dropdown, and then click Update Prekit Groups.
The next time the machines are routed, the prekitting changes will take effect.
In Settings > Routing > Routes, you can select a route's edit icon (), select the Advanced tab, and view the forecasting options under the Advanced Planning header. You can select Plan with Forecast, which will simply display the forecasted data when planning your route, and Prekit with Forecast, which plans the prekitting with the projected data and is affected by the Forecast Factor multiplier mentioned earlier in the article. This data is an aggregate of the current prekitting needs in addition to the estimated needs for the upcoming days up until the selected date when planning a route.
To see this process in action, you can go to your Routes tab and select Plan Service Route, which will bring up a screen similar to below.
Here you will see the regular route planning information, as well as columns listing Current Sold-Outs (CSO), Days until Next Sold-out (DNSO), and, if enabled, an input field for Days Forecasted (DFC). The DFC column can be enabled from Company Settings > Route Planning > DFC Column Factor, toggled to On. The DFC is a numerical value that represents how many days out from service a route is, and will be multiplied by the Forecast Factor.
For example, if today is the 1st and you are planning a route for the 3rd, your DFC column input would be 2 (If DFC = 0, this indicates no days forecasted and the route is for today; if DFC = 1, this is 1 day forecasted and is for tomorrow, etc.), and this DFC of 2 would be multiplied by your Forecast Factor, which might be 1.5. For your route for the 3rd, your prekit would call for an estimated 3 days' worth of product (2x1.5) in order to meet your projected inventory needs.
These projected needs are calculated using a product's daily consumption rate (DCR), which is calculated every night for every slot of every machine, and averaged out over time for use in estimating future consumption. How many past services are calculated into this average can be adjusted from Company Settings > Route Planning under Number of Historic Services for Forecast.