Can you afford to ignore paperless warehousing?
Efficient warehouse operations are crucial to customer satisfaction. Every extra minute a warehouse worker wastes on an inefficient process is valuable time lost, fewer picks per hour and fewer customer orders filled per day. That’s why warehouses need to eliminate paper-based tasks across all functions and introduce paperless warehousing.
While paper-based systems may be a thing of the past for some companies, there are still a number of businesses struggling with paper based processes. While the initial cost of shifting from a paper-based system can be overwhelming for some, making the switch can reap numerous long term benefits including:
Key Benefits of Paperless Warehousing
- Improved visibility and warehouse efficiency
- Productivity improvements
- Improving customer service
- Better use of warehouse space
- Reducing costs and environmental impact
When warehouses run smoothly, operations themselves are invisible to customers. But when warehouses operate inefficiently, customers can quickly take notice of each and every problem throughout the process. Late shipments, defective goods or missing products can suggest that a company lacks the ability to deliver orders accurately and promptly, leaving customers with a poor brand image that can lead to reduced sales and trust.
Using technology, such as a WMS, to boost warehouse productivity can combat long-running problems of inaccuracy and inefficiency. The data collected can help managers identify a warehouse’s stress points – areas requiring significant improvement – and make it possible to create optimised workflows, better utilise floor space and reduce errors across the board.
But not all technologies are built for warehouse use, as you’re defining your goal for paperless warehousing and modernising your warehouse, take time to outline a strategy that includes:
Integration of software and hardware
Technology has transformed what’s possible in the warehouse, leaving logistics companies that continue to rely on paper-based operational methods well behind the competition. Warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) integrations help optimise warehouse operations to run at maximum efficiency, allowing for better production accuracy and speed.
In conjunction with barcodes and RFID tags, a comprehensive WMS can gather key data in a way that helps you refine operations such as slotting for put away, picking by zone, routing equipment such as lift trucks, managing inventory levels and optimising labour. WMS and ERP integrations can also help reduce process errors to boost long-term operational performance.
Of course, software is only half the solution for paperless warehousing. Getting key data into the WMS or backend system requires reliable barcode scanners, mobile computers or other data capture hardware such as RFID portals or real time location systems (RTLS).
Warehouse workers can spend tremendous amounts of time traveling across a warehouse between tasks, wasting valuable time in between with no added productivity. Task interleaving helps build in complementary tasks into a single workflow, allowing workers to handle multiple tasks during what once may have been time wasted on unproductive travel time, such as a forklift dropping off a pallet and driving back to the dock with empty forks, when there was a pallet on the way that needed to go to shipping that could’ve been picked up. Task management functionality of a comprehensive WMS can help determine workflows for warehouse staff members to replenish, pick and put away materials simultaneously. By maximising the productivity of existing warehouse staff, labour costs can be effectively managed by optimising each worker’s performance. According to the latest Zebra® Warehousing Vision Study, 80% of respondents said they planned to utilise task interleaving within the next five years.
The combination of software plus industry-leading hardware devices and sensor technology makes streamlining warehouse processes possible resulting in paperless warehousing. Rather than contacting a supervisor for each new task or retrieving printed pick tickets or put-away orders, the WMS or execution systems push tasks to front-line workers’ mobile devices and then captures data from those completed tasks into an ERP system for analysis.
Eliminate paper-based processes
Manual warehouse processes are prone to error, and inaccurate information gathering can lead organisations to make costly mistakes. Paperless warehousing is the way forward.
Holding onto paper-based processes means key business metrics are either unavailable or are often inaccurate. This is especially true when it comes to inventory control. Customer satisfaction depends on having the right items available at the right time. This is only possible if you know how much stock is on the shelf and where each individual item is located every second of the day. Plus, maintaining an accurate view of inventory helps prevent over- or under-ordering, both of which can negatively impact your bottom line.
By logging information into digital systems via automated data capture tools versus two-step pen and paper/manual data entry methods, you’re automatically improving data input accuracy and expanding your team’s operational visibility. Since WMS solutions feature detailed, real-time reporting functions, you are able to quickly access and assess the aggregate insights collected via enterprise grade mobile computers, tablets, scanners, wearables and sensors to understand what’s working, what’s not and why. This will enable you to continuously boost your warehouse’s efficiency and effectively measure long-term performance gains derived from certain decisions and actions.
And though there are some initial costs associated with migrating to completely paperless operations, the technology hardware and software you put into place will ultimately reduce the costs and environmental impacts associated with printing paper checklists, manuals, reports and more.
Gaining real-time insight to your warehouse operations has never been more important. The right warehouse software, together with the right hardware solutions, will empower you to improve inventory accuracy, reduce waste, and boost labour efficiency. It will also enable you to run at maximum productivity as order volumes increase, stock levels rise and the number of SKUs you must manage continue to multiply.
With warehouse and distribution centre operators facing more challenges every day, can you afford not to implement an efficient, effective, and paperless warehouse? Paperless warehousing will not only increase efficiency and productivity but will also decrease costs resulting in an increasing in profitability.
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 fulfilment and manufacturing warehousing.