Running a successful warehouse has never been an easy task, but warehouse management in the 21st century is more complicated than ever before.
Juggling the needs of customers, the abilities of suppliers and the talents of employees is always a difficult thing to do, but employing proper warehouse management processes can make it a lot easier.
When properly implemented, a warehouse management system can solve some of the most critical problems business owners face in today's competitive environment.
Managing raw stock is a critical first step for any warehouse owner.
If something goes wrong at this pivotal point, nothing else can go right. The way incoming stock is received, categorized and stored will have an impact on every part of the production process.
Without an efficient unloading process for incoming stock, you will not be able to manage your warehouse effectively or produce products in a cost efficient manner.
A quality warehouse management solution can solve this critical problem from the start.
Designing an efficient way to identify incoming stock, schedule deliveries and unload raw materials will make everything that follows easier to manage.
A well organized warehouse is an efficient warehouse, and a poorly organized one is just the opposite.
Many business owners try to do too much in the organization department, and the changes they make end up being counterproductive instead of efficient.
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Organizing the warehouse operations to minimize the time and effort required makes a lot of sense, and it is tempting to try to make changes to manage both picking and putting items away. Unfortunately, this can introduce errors like picking the wrong quantities of products or picking the wrong items altogether.
A solid warehouse management system can reduce these picking errors by making smart decisions about product placement.
Placing similar items next to one another is just asking for trouble, so rearranging the warehouse organization could sharply reduce errors and markedly improve the process.
Quality control is an essential part of any warehouse operation, but it is also the point at which a single problem can spiral into a much larger issue. Many downstream issues begin with the QC process, and those issues can have a significant impact on the bottom line and the profitability of the business.
Throughout the entire warehouse management process, there is a strong temptation for employees to simply assume that the previous person did everything right.
The person receiving the good assumes that the truck driver documented the shipment correctly. The individual putting the raw material away assumes that the counts are all correct and so on.
By the time the finished materials reach the quality control lab, all of these incorrect assumptions will have built up, and the end result is an inferior product and lost revenue.
Automating the inbound inspection process is one of the best ways to avoid these downstream issues. The automated warehouse management system can generate an easy to use checklist for each item requiring inspection, and the individual receiving the raw materials can simply check each item off the list.
A marked increase in the number of variances in the received materials is a dead giveaway that something is wrong, and that it needs to be addressed long before the finished goods reach the QC lab.
The picking process is a critical but often overlooked part of the warehouse management process. This is where many errors are introduced, and the downstream consequences can be quite severe. From higher return rates to a damaged reputation, the results of picking errors are both widespread and pervasive.
As with the receiving and QC processes, the roots of these picking errors often start much earlier. Products that are not put away correctly cannot be picked and packed properly, and receiving errors can quickly spread to the picking area.
Constant vigilance is the key to correcting picking errors and keeping mistakes to a minimum. Using an automated system is a good start, but maintaining that system and making inline adjustments is just as important.
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When an employee discovers an error that could impact the picking process, be it a wrong item in the slot or an authorized substitution, they need a way to update the automated system and make it more efficient going forward.
The shipping dock is the final step in the process, and one of the most critical.
A poorly handled shipping process can result in all manner of downstream problems, from damaged inventory and high return rates to a decrease in repeat orders and problems with the company and its reputation.
One of the most common problems happens when the same individuals do the picking and the quality control. Having the same person handle both tasks can result in serious errors, and the individual may have little incentive to spot and correct those errors.
Far from costing the company money, spreading out these vital tasks among more than one individual could actually boost profits and enhance the quality of the finished products. No matter what kind of warehouse automation you use, the people you hire are the backbone of your operation.
Running a successful warehouse can be a struggle, but the right warehouse management system can reduce errors, boost efficiency and keep your customers satisfied.
The more you know about warehouse automation and its place in the production process the easier it will be to improve your operations and build your business.
Contact Fulfillment Bridge to get the benefits of a mature WMS and full suite of Fulfillment Bridge warehouse management and shipping solutions.