Every warehouse manager is under pressure to run their facility at maximum capacity while keeping overhead low. Because of the quick changes brought about by technological advancements in this sector, keeping up with the latest trends can be challenging. If you don’t keep up with warehouse management best practices, your company risks falling behind the competition.
Warehouse management requires commitment to best practices and may seem complex, but it can lower expenses, improve customer service, and boost warehouse operational efficiency when done well. Adopting practical warehousing principles makes it simple to improve warehouse operations. We prepared a rundown of tips to help you enhance your warehouse management and efficiency.
1. Invest in a Good Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) is the foundation for an efficient warehouse. An effective warehouse management solution will improve all aspects of inventory management and order management, allowing for efficient warehouse operations around receiving/putaway/replenishments and order picking processes. In addition, it can connect to your ERP, TMS, and other systems to keep your inventory in sync; while boosting accuracy, lowering expenses, and enhancing customer satisfaction. The best-in-class approach to a WMS, means you have the best possible solution to meet warehouse requirements.
2. Eliminate Paper Processes and Move to Real-Time Mobile Workers
Data entry methods have been altered because of warehouse technology, which allows data to be input directly into the WMS through the use of mobile RF devices. By scanning locations and product barcodes it decreases the risk of errors caused by readability issues, typing mistakes, lost paperwork, and other problems emerging from converting handwritten data into electronic bits and bytes. It also maintains a more accurate, real-time inventory, through the use of mobile scanning devices, the information is updated in the system right away, rather than waiting to see the information after it is manually entered into the system.
Warehouse technology has lowered operational expenses by eliminating the need for paper operations (since enterprises don’t have to spend money on paper, related stationery, or the supply of pre-printed documents). It has also helped to improve sustainability (green), as warehousing operations now consume fewer forestry resources. Moving your warehouse to real-time operations improves all aspects of your business both in the warehouse and in the systems connected to the warehouse.
3. Improve Accuracy and Productivity
Automatically recording data can boost productivity and accuracy while lowering personnel costs. Using barcodes and radio frequency identification tags to capture real-time information can help get products off the dock faster and eliminate human errors like counting and data entry from the tracking process.
Automatic data gathering also provides managers with more historical data, allowing them to modify product locations based on order frequency, type (each, box, pallet, etc.), and shipping times. Also, recording details such as lot numbers, manufacturing dates, and serial numbers all become faster and more accurate processes.
4. Refine Returns Management
Returns are an unavoidable element of running a company. For example, over 30% of all online orders are returned, and if not handled properly, they can affect your bottom line. That’s reason enough to refine your returns process. It is important for the WMS system to integrate to the return source (customer service system) for recording inventory disposition (i.e., damage, return-to-stock, etc.). Returned inventory needs to be handled efficiently and accurately.
Over 30% of all online orders are returned, and if not handled properly, they can affect your bottom line.
5. Store Data in the Cloud
Keeping records on paper and in files is a time-consuming activity that wastes space. All warehouse data and reports can be digitally saved on a remote location server or cloud-based storage for the same reason. It allows customers to create a backup of inventory, sales, billing, and other data that can be referred to at any time in the future. Also, this information can be used for re-warehousing, slotting, and other activities around warehouse space utilization.
6. Check Before Adopting New Technology
Over time, new technologies should lower your costs and increase efficiency and profits. Analyzing your profitability per customer account or product line is one of the finest techniques to measure cost efficiency.
If your analysis shows that a specific technology could help you save money while serving your clients, it may be wise to invest. Your ROI would improve tremendously once the cost of the program has been amortized.
7. Focus on Visibility
Integration among different warehouse systems and applications (i.e., RF devices, Warehouse Management Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, Transportation Management Systems (TMS), and accounting systems) is crucial for real-time reporting. If all the supply chain components are working together, you can have full visibility of the product through the whole process from receiving to delivery to the customer.
In addition, analytics can help managers stay aligned with enterprise-wide and customer needs through reports, dashboarding tools, key performance indicators, and metrics. In reviewing this data, they can also spot roadblocks in the process and areas that need improvement.
8. Perform Regular Cycle Counts
Make cycle counting and root cause analysis a top priority in your warehouse: display a large chart with accuracy percentages for all to see because inventory records accuracy affects all departments. Of course, as mentioned earlier…if you still use paper, cycle counting becomes much more difficult to properly execute. The ROI on real-time data collection, is very significant in the area of cycle counting.
9. Do a Careful Survey and Audit
A company’s inventory, which accounts for more than half of its working capital, would typically receive a lot of attention. However, only a few businesses appear to pay close attention to their stockroom or warehouse, as well as the five operations that affect it. Receiving, putaway, picking, shipping, and maintenance, which includes cycle counting, consolidation, and other processes; are the activities that keep the stockroom running smoothly. And if you’re a 3PL who doesn’t own the inventory, your client will require that you treat the inventory as if you own it!
10. Enforce Firm Receipt and Putaway Practices
Procedures should be put in place for physical interaction, material handling, safety guidelines, and reporting quality. These procedures should include step-by-step instructions for receiving and storing materials. In addition, the processes should specify how inventory should be handled, checked, and placed in storage places. The instructions must also specify how to manage damaged inventory, such as whether it can be restocked or whether it must be destroyed or returned to the vendor.
Do you have any doubts about your inventory’s accuracy? Do you have to deal with constantly changing supply chain standards and regulations? Then, observe the warehouse management practices we have listed above to make your process easier and more seamless. Inventory management becomes faster, easier, and more efficient with the correct warehouse management practices. In addition, these practices will enable you to acquire immediate and accurate feedback based on updated information in real-time, allowing businesses to respond faster to client requests.
Distributors and wholesalers should know precisely what’s in stock, where it’s kept, and when it needs to be replenished. Your warehouse plays an essential role in your consumers’ purchasing decisions. Providing excellent customer service necessitates ensuring that things requested are in stock and that consumers receive what they ordered. Picking accuracy improves when your warehouse is well-managed, resulting in orders that are correct the first time.
Are you using paper or manual methods to track your inventory? Do you need to improve accuracy and efficiency in your warehouse? The experts at Cadre Technologies can help you find a warehouse management solution that works best for your business.