Improve Distribution Centres Accuracy & Profitability

If you’re looking for some tips to improve distribution centres accuracy and profitability, read on.

Maximising DC utilisation, accuracy and consistently maintaining peak performance are common goals shared by DC operators. But where do you start to improve distribution centres accuracy ? This starts with identifying and evaluating your unique business requirements and addressing your most common challenges with solutions that will consistently deliver. An efficient warehouse is also critical for customer satisfaction as it helps ensure quick, accurate shipments.

These days, the distribution centre is where the most important part of commerce takes place: keeping customers happy. That’s because distribution centres are now critically responsible for getting the right product to the right customers. Accuracy is among the most important issues facing DC’s. It’s no surprise that accuracy occupied two of the top 12 metrics for 2019, including inventory count accuracy and order picking accuracy by location.

One of the main reasons for errors begins with the analogue or paper-based methods still used by many organisations for everyday tasks and workflows. This methodology is highly prone to introduce errors in every step of the process, and severely impairs receiving, inventory counting, picking and packing workflows. Companies are taking paper out of the equation and employing automation solutions such as radio frequency (RF) scanners, light- and voice-directed picking, mobile computers and WMS systems to drive significant efficiency and accuracy improvements.

The range of needs for medium-sized DCs can vary greatly. Common solutions include:

Order picking technology solutions.

With 50–60 percent of the average DC’s workforce consumed in the picking workflow, productivity gains quickly add up to operational savings, especially in e-commerce DCs. Integrated, best-in-class, order-picking technologies deliver maximum throughput and accuracy in high-velocity, high-SKU environments. Voice-directed solutions are used by nearly one million mobile workers every day, and provide detailed instructions that guide workers to find specific locations, products and quantities. Light-directed solutions enable accurate, single-touch confirmation via pick-to-light automation to drive productivity improvements in high-pick density environments.

Order picking technology solutions.

With 50–60 percent of the average DC’s workforce consumed in the picking workflow, productivity gains quickly add up to operational savings, especially in e-commerce DCs. Integrated, best-in-class, order-picking technologies deliver maximum throughput and accuracy in high-velocity, high-SKU environments. Voice-directed solutions are used by nearly one million mobile workers every day, and provide detailed instructions that guide workers to find specific locations, products and quantities. Light-directed solutions enable accurate, single-touch confirmation via pick-to-light automation to drive productivity improvements in high-pick density environments.

Accuracy solutions.

To maintain DC productivity, the tasks of receiving and put-away must be performed with speed and accuracy. Accuracy in this workflow is critical to prevent costly cascading errors downstream and reduce “dock-to-stock” cycle times. Mobile computing technology provide the flexibility your organisation needs to effectively manage these critical tasks. These mobile and vehicle-mounted solutions feature advanced imaging technologies that capture data quickly on the first scan, thereby increasing speed, accuracy, productivity and visibility over traditional paper-based processes.

How to Improve Distribution Centres Accuracy

1. Mobile computers that provide 1D and 2D imaging. Utilising mobile computers with imagers to scan product and label information, as well as capture additional data, is more productive (~25%) and accurate (~50%) than paper/manual-based methods. It ensures quality control and vendor compliance, and quantity received information is captured in real-time.

2. Wearable solutions. A growing number of companies have turned to hands-free computing solutions to streamline operations and improve productivity. A mobile wearable solution provides a hands-free solution that provides increases in productivity and improved ergonomics over handheld devices.

3. Voice-guided and hands-free solutions. Voice-directed solutions are used by nearly one million mobile workers every day and have proven to increase productivity by up to 35% and increase accuracy to 99.99%+ in a variety of tasks throughout the warehouse. For example, in picking processes where workers follow a series of instructions for specific pick locations, products and quantities, these tools provide needed guidance and verification at every step. Voice is available in over 35 languages and has been proven to dramatically reduce training and onboarding time, especially in peak seasons with highly transient workforces.

4. Vehicle-mounted computer solutions. Vehicle-mounted computer solutions turn forklift-and vehicle-based workflows into information technology platforms. Roughly, 25 percent of the average DC’s labour is spent on receiving and put-away tasks. Equipping your forklifts with technologies—such as computers, barcode scanners, printers, radio-frequency identification (RFID), voice, lights and software—can reduce material-handling costs, optimise order fulfilment rates and increase inventory accuracy with real-time tracking.

5. Adopt enabling technology. A warehouse management system (WMS) or an ERP system with a strong WMS module can improve distribution centres accuracy and efficiency by suggesting the best routes and methods for picking or put-away. In addition, the system provides automated pick lists that can be sent to mobile readers and devices to help eliminate mistakes and reduce wasted time and paper. Your warehouse will be neater and greener. As mentioned above, by using barcode or radio frequency identification (RFID) readers in conjunction with a WMS, you can improve distribution centres accuracy of transactions and reduce picking errors. In fact, research shows that using RFID increased inventory accuracy by 27 per cent in just 13 weeks.

6. Optimise labour efficiency. If your WMS doesn’t have the ability to generate efficient picking plans, create them manually. Analyse your material usage patterns and store high-volume items together near the front of the warehouse to eliminate travel time. Also, store items that are frequently sold together near one another. Basically, you will streamline operations if you try to keep the items you pick most often in the most accessible locations to eliminate picking delays.

In Summary

The above recommendations can each help improve distribution centres accuracy and the efficiency of your warehouse, and many revolve around leveraging a warehouse management system and using mobile technology. An audit of your operations can help you determine bottlenecks and find opportunities to improve efficiency. Just remember that a single audit will likely reveal some cost-cutting measures, but not all of them.

The best approach is to implement a warehouse management system and continually monitor KPIs and performance. Over time, each change you make will continue to reduce costs and innovate your warehouse operations. Clarus WMS can assist you with this implementation and recommend the best solution to improve distribution centres accuracy and efficiency.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.

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