Warehouse Management Processes

When looking for new systems to improve efficiency, look for a supplier who understands best practice warehouse management processes and how your industry works.

Warehouse management is one of the oldest activities related to production. But over the last few years, it has increased in relevance, transforming it into a science with mathematical and computer models. This key focus is enabling companies to improve their activities in a more efficient way. Its optimisation is both related to customer service and demand variability. Through the introduction of warehouse management system (WMS) software, this has become more attainable. The software assists supervisors in creating efficient warehouse management processes for tracking and tracing products all along the storage and distribution process.

In today’s market, warehouses are constantly faced with new problems and challenges, such as the lack of space in their facilities and meeting customer demands. These are normally due to the increase in production to meet demands and the rise of the number of products in their portfolio.

In their aim for continuous improvement, companies need to introduce changes by taking advantage of the available technology in this area. For instance, the introduction of a WMS will make it easier to create a better putaway and picking strategy in the warehouse that, in turn, will help them to reduce the shipping times by more than a half. The system will also help to identify any opportunities for improvement in the current layout to help store products in a more efficient way and also reduce picking times.

Each warehouse has its own operations or different steps depending on their industry and product requirements. However, there are some basic Warehouse Management Processes that are normally followed as per below.

warehouse management processes flowchart

Step 1 – Receiving

Receiving may begin with advance notification of the arrival of goods. This allows the warehouse to schedule receipt and unloading to coordinate efficiently with other activities within the warehouse.

In a distribution warehouse, when goods arrive at the warehouse they should be scanned and staged for putaway. It is also important to scan the product to register its arrival so that ownership is assumed and the product is available to fulfil customer demand. Another auxiliary activity that should be done in this step is the inspection, both of quality and quantity.

Clarus WMS will ensure that stock is received properly into the warehouse; if it doesn’t come in correctly you don’t have much hope of maintaining stock integrity going forward.

Step 2 – Putaway

Products are assigned a location in the warehouse. These locations in the warehouse will determine how quickly and at what cost you later retrieve it for a customer. This activity requires a warehouse location inventory, with the purpose of knowing which locations are available, how large they are and how much weight they can bear. When the product is put away, the storage location should be scanned to record where the product is placed and to include this information into the picking lists.

Want to do something a little different with your goods in process? That’s not a problem. Using the workflow manager in Clarus’ WMS you can customise the process to suit you and your customer’s needs.

Step 3 -Storage

Storage is the main activity in a warehouse. Three major decisions drive the storage activity:

  • How much inventory should be stored for an SKU.
  • The replenishment time for each SKU.
  • Where should the SKU be stored in the warehouse.

With Clarus WMS you can produce detailed reports of your stock positions and make sure the business is never caught out with shorts or over orders.

The two first decisions belong to the inventory control. The third decision is led by the storage efficiency and access efficiency, which refers to the resources, consumed by putaway and order picking activities. A well-slotted warehouse will outperform one that has limited effort put on this important process. The majority of distribution centres do not dedicate enough resources to manage slotting and nowadays it is one of the greatest sources to improve order picking.

The purpose of slotting is to ensure:

  • Products are assigned to the most convenient storage equipment type.
  • Products are assigned to storage locations throughout the warehouse to optimise total labour work.
  • Good ergonomics for product handling.
  • To reduce product losses due to damages associated with a bad position choice.

Step 4 – Picking

When a customer order is received, a checking process should be performed to verify that the products are available for the customer. Then a picking list guide is produced to help the pickers in their activities. These activities are normally accomplished by a warehouse management system (WMS).

With Clarus WMS you can drive your workforce to pick orders in the most efficient way possible improving pick rates and accuracy of fulfilled orders.

There are different classical picking policies that determine how many orders should be grouped to be picked together:

  • Strict-order picking. A picker completes a tour through the warehouse in order to retrieve all the SKU for a single order.
  • Batch picking. A picker completes several orders at the same time. The goal when applying this policy is to reduce picker’s travel time, as it enables the picker to retrieve more products in the same tour.
  • Zone picking. This policy consists on dividing the picking area in several zones, each one assigned to a group of pickers. Zone picking also aims to reduce picker’s travel time, as it limits the number of picking addresses that a picker should visit.
  • Wave picking. This policy is used when a shipping schedule exists. All the orders included in the same shipment will be prepared together. Picking orders are released simultaneously in several zones of the warehouse, taking into consideration that batch size should be adapted to the available picking time. The following wave is not launched until the current wave has been completed.

Step 5 – Shipping

Packing is a labour intensive activity because each article should be handled, but there is not traveling time needed. As all the articles should be handled it is the perfect moment to check that the customer order is completed.

Packaged products are ready to be shipped into fewer containers (cases, pallets). After that, the trailers are filled. This activity should not include high travel distance as packing should be done near the shipping docks. Before a trailer leaves the warehouse it should be scanned to register its departure and an updated order customer should be sending to the customer.

With Clarus WMS you can streamline your packing operation with system directed packing tasks and integration into courier and transport systems. Improve fulfilment accuracy and make sure you are not sending out anything you shouldn’t be.

When looking for a warehouse management system provider, look for one who understands best practice warehouse processes for goods in processes for receiving and putaways. Strong experience of industry specific best practice is also vital.

Next week

Warehouse design can have a huge effect on Warehouse Management Processes. When it comes to warehousing design a wide range of issues and decisions should be considered. These decisions are not only critical for a wide range of customer service activities, they are also important from a cost perspective. Next week we will cover the strategic issues affecting warehousing design and the major decisions that should be taken.

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.