Improve warehouse efficiency
A drive to improve warehouse efficiency is usually high on the list of priorities for most distribution businesses.
Clarus’ team of warehousing experts have worked throughout the logistics and warehousing industry for the last 20 years but we often feel the basics are overlooked.
We explore the 3 core competencies of a solid warehousing process.
Improve warehouse efficiency with careful inbound
Solid, consistent warehousing starts with goods in. This is always the first step if you want to improve warehouse efficiency.
Too many warehousing operations rely on delivery paperwork to book goods in. This is often due to lack of visibility of their own purchase orders. Blindly accepting goods in against supplier paperwork can be a point of failure.
Goods should always be booked in against an expected quantity from your own systems, typically a purchase order.
Solid, consistent warehousing starts with goods in
There are exceptions to this rule. 3PL warehousing operations will often need to blind receipt goods in at short notice but this isn’t scaleable or sustainable long term if businesses are looking to expand profitably.
If you fail to get the inbound right, you are making things very hard to get them out correctly!
Once goods have been counted and receipted into a goods in area, they need to be put away.
Improve warehouse efficiency using system driven location management
Step two to help improve warehouse efficiency is ensuring location management is optimised.
Ideally, a WMS system will be in place to support this process. Trying to locate empty space may seem like an easy task but in medium to large warehouses, this can take a huge amount of time.
without a WMS system, time spent looking for empty space
If operations are serious about trying to improve warehouse efficiency, they must support their warehouse teams by implementing a WMS system to drive them to empty locations. Failure to do this will usually result in the need to employ more warehouse personnel to allow for the wasted time spent looking for empty space.
A true, best of breed WMS system will also support optimised putaway routines. This will ensure that the locations suggested by the WMS system will be suitable for the products being putaway.
Putaway can be guided by weight, height or frequency of pick. For example, putaway by frequency of pick will ensure that high volume items are stored in easy to access locations close to a goods out area.
Effective location management, combined with a careful inbound processes will make outbound pick, pack and ship much easier to complete on time, in full.
Improve warehouse efficiency with smart outbound order processing
The final step to improve warehouse efficiency is ensuring goods leave the building correctly on time, in full (OTIF).
The biggest issues with order picking are;
- Wrong item
Picking the wrong items is easily done when operating manually in a warehouse. Many businesses have very similar product ranges which if stored together, can cause confusion. New employees can find it very difficult to build product knowledge and will make mistakes as a result.
It is very important to validate at the point of pick. Using a WMS system, it is much harder to mis-pick items as both the stock location and the item itself will be scanned as part of the process.
If the wrong item is scanned, the user will be alerted instantly to their mistake.
- Wrong quantity
Assuming your picker has been able to find the correct item, how can you ensure they are picking the correct quantity?
Even an experienced picker can make mistakes when counting 1000’s of orders per day. If suitable, it may be appropriate to have a final check of the pick done by a 2nd individual. This could be a final packing process or potentially the final case/ pallet could be weighed at the point of despatch to ensure it is accurate.
This is another example of how errors can be caught before orders are despatched.
- Lost stock
Being unable to find stock is a common problem which usually links back to the quality of your goods in process.
It is more likely that stock was checked in by error than any other cause of lost stock. If this is the case, the stock accuracy is incorrect and unfortunately, even a WMS system may be incorrect.
Warehouse management software systems are only as good as the information which is fed into them.
However, a tier one WMS system should be able to provide a full audit of all activity relating to the missing items making it much easier to spot the point of failure.
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.