Having an organized warehouse can boost efficiency and improve inventory accuracy. It is important that your warehouse is set up for optimization for years to come. Warehouse optimization includes improvements in how you use workers, space, time, equipment, and other resources. Improvements require proper planning, automation and training. The benefits of a well thought out and executed warehouse management system will help improvement the entire supply chain process and ultimately lead to better customer satisfaction.
Warehouse managers may be reluctant to change the layout of the current warehouse. One concern is that they are used to the current system and workflow. A well planned system does not rely on memory, but on a fluid system that is continuously improving. The best spot to put something should be chosen automatically for optimum travel and space utilization. Storage optimization changes as the inventory goes up and down. This involves consideration of racking space, inventory size/type, sales volumes and traffic patterns. In addition, the system needs to have fail safe methods of instructions for each of the workers to ensure they do not make mistakes.
Four key factors have changed warehouse processes: barcoding, hand held industrial terminals, wireless networks, and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Warehouses not making use of these tools needs to get away from their current manual processes of communicating and moving products. The use of barcoding has dramatically reduced the mistakes of human error.
This means more accurate inventory and less shipping errors. Hand held terminals now provide automatic instructions to users and allows them to input their work. This has made training significantly easier and improved the workflow of staff. Wireless networks means that all information and work is real time, allowing management full visibility and time stamping all processes. Without a proper software to run all of the above, the system is useless. WMS is the software to make everything happen. The software manages and automatically directs the staff using the other technology.
One of the largest costs eliminated by automating a warehouse is an annual physical inventory count. This cost typically means an extra pay for workers to manually count all the inventory while the operation is shut down. At that time, the errors made throughout the year are discovered which prompt correcting inventory and writing product off, additional costs.
Inventory should be counted and accurate throughout the year. This is done by cycle counting. It can be done during regular hours while the operation is still running and in smaller increments. It ensures that inventory is accurate throughout the year and produces less write offs due to lost or expired goods.
WMS software uses identification for all racks, columns, bins and other locations within the warehouse. Anything stored or moved is tracked and time stamped. You can have access to real time information of where any product is at anytime. All products and storage locations are identified according to various characteristics. This includes things like size and weight, but also can entail restrictions or preferences on which locations are suitable. This allows the system to properly assign a location to hold the inventory based on preset characteristics.
Products can entail restrictions or preferences on which locations are suitable. This allows the system to properly assign a location to hold the inventory based on preset characteristics. Products can be divided into bulk storage or picking locations. First In First Out (FIFO) can be implemented and stored accordingly. Full cases verse broken cases can help in grouping products together. Since all product locations are logged, pickers do not experience stock outs when going to retrieve products. Further automation directs pickers to the right location to pick the right product.
Operations managers need the proper tools to do their job better. Screens are available to show all past, present and future tasks. This allows for quick, intelligent, decision-making and the ability to communicate information to other members of the team. There is also reporting tools to check the accuracy of inventory, history of transactions and performance of staff.
This can be used to forward plan for continuous improvement. Everyone in the operation has more access to data, which can be delivered to other partners in the supply chain and ultimately the customer. Customer satisfaction goes up, costs of operations goes down and output grows.
About ProVision WMS
A product of Ahearn & Soper, ProVision WMS is an off the shelf software solution. It enables distribution centers and Third Party Logistics (3PL) companies to rapidly improve warehouse operations and meet the growing demands. The software was created over a decade ago based on a .Net platform. It is easy to integrate with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System or Transportation Management System (TMS).
Development and improvement to the software is ongoing with new revisions released to the customers regularly. The company is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario with branch office across the nation. For more information on our warehouse management solutions, please contact us today.