In some cases, the user may not be exactly sure about one of the variables that make up the Primary Package input or one of those variables may be flexible. Some examples of this situation are the following:
- Unknown case count: The amount of Primary Packages per box can be adjustable within a certain range that won't affect the customer.
- Known volume but unknown dimensions: The product is sold by volume (e.g. milk cartons) but the PP dimensions can vary.
- Variable allowed pallet height: The products will be shipped to different locations in which the maximum allowable pallet height is different. The load arrangement and box dimensions must be then optimized for different pallet heights.
Quick Pallet Maker provides a means to test different scenarios quickly and to calculate the best option for a range of scenarios. This feature is called the Advanced Input Options window and is called from the PP Input window, from the tools menu.
The elements of this window are the following:
- Variable menu: This menu contains the variable that will be tested in different scenarios. The options are the following:
- Primary Package Weight
- Primary Package Length or Diameter
- Primary Package Width
- Primary Package Height
- Case Count
- Maximum Load Height
- Maximum Load Weight
- Variable Range: These two input boxes determine the range in which the variable will be tested. For example, a user wishes to calculate the results for a number of case counts between 4 packs per box and 24 packs per box.
- Criteria: A pull-down menu allows the user to select between a list of criteria. The options are the following:
- greater than
- less than
- in between
- equal to
- as low as possible
- as high as possible
- Limits: When the criteria has been set, one, two or zero limits will appear below the criteria list, depending on the criteria. If the criteria is greater than, then the program will use a lower limit. Less than will display an upper limit. In between will display a lower and an upper limit. Equal to will display a value to be matched. As low as possible and as high as possible won't display any value at all.
- Target: This pull-down menu determines the variable to be targeted. For example, if the user wishes to achieve a number of cases per layer, then he/she selects "cases per layer" as the target. The options here are the following:
- Case corrugate area
- Cases per layer
- Total cases per pallet
- Area efficiency Area occupied by the boxes divided by the available pallet area.
- Volume efficiency Space occupied by the boxes divided by the available space within the load.
- Primary packages/pallet Total number of primary packages per pallet.
- Step: Slider that adjusts the step in the variable that will be tested. For example, if the user is working with the maximum permissible pallet load height, he/she would probably like to test every 5 mm, instead of every 1 mm. This would accelerate the calculations and provide less values for analysis.
- Constant primary package option: When this option is selected (only appears when any of the PP dimensions are set for variation), the remaining PP dimensions will be adjusted accordingly to keep the PP volume constant. For example, if the user wishes to calculate the pallet arrangements and box dimensions for a can of juice by varying the can diameter, the can height will be adjusted to keep the volume of juice constant.
- Show all results: This option appears when the user is working with a criteria of as high as possible or as low as possible.
- Only show best result: Instead of displaying all the values, this option will make QPM find the best value from the list and calculate the pallets for this value.
Pressing OK will make QPM calculate the solutions for the values within the range. If the user has selected "Show all solutions", then the Solutions Window will appear including a list of the pallets that were possible under the user specifications. This list may be then sorted to find the optimal solution. If the user has selected to show only the best solution, then QPM will automatically sort all the solutions and leave the best one.