Warehouse management is typically tedious and stressful work. However, it is an aspect of business management that plays a crucial role in the delivery and manufacture of products. Inefficient management of your inventory can waste company dollars through labor costs and even cause delays which can decrease customer satisfaction. Ultimately, warehouse management is something that should be prioritized in running businesses.
Thankfully, technological advancements have made warehouse inventory easier. Some practices are commonly used by businesses for efficient warehouse management. As the market grows, the importance of warehouse management has never been more important. Here are some popular practices in warehouse management:
Best Practices in the implementation of a new system
In the management of your warehouse, you need to know what to do and how to do it. Firstly, you must answer the question “What is it that you want to do?” regarding your warehouse management. What is it that you want to achieve the most with your way of warehouse management? Do you want to decrease delivery times? Or do you want to increase production? Answer that question first before moving on to the next step.
Once you know your goal, you will then have to do some research. Proper knowledge about your business and its warehouse can help you diagnose the problem areas in your business. Study your performance of your current operation in terms of picks per day, quantity of lines picked per day. This will give you a metric to measure success in the future.
Know the size of your warehouse and how much product it can hold. Be aware of how much your warehouse can store by familiarizing yourself with the size and number of your bins and racks. It is also important to research the financial information you may need as well as the number of pieces you are working with.
With proper research, you would have a realistic picture of whether your warehouse can achieve your goal. You can then create a plan to achieve your goal. Formulate a hypothesis using the data from your research. Identify your problem areas and what the model would look like on its best day. It is also crucial to be aware of what mistakes or problems usually occur in your warehouse.
Start by creating a simple plan. Condense your ideas and expectations of the program you are going to use for your inventory. This will help your system work better and automate processes faster.
Once you have a plan, you can then experiment by testing your system. Use your system for a while so you can gather data. If you back out too early by assuming your plan isn’t working, then you may not be able to get accurate data on what your system was able to do for your warehouse. You won’t get accurate data of what’s working and what’s not if you alter the plan. Let it deal with the unexpected, and let it run at peak performance. Work out any bugs.
After testing your plan, then you now have enough data to report to your WMS builders to see if you can retain your plan or create another one that you feel may work better.
Technological Best Practices
Technology is the key to enabling warehouse management to be done more efficiently and successfully. These are the common practices used in the technological application with warehouse management:
Go paperless. Digital transformation of inventory management is easier to access, easier to scale with new team members, and more accurate. Paper transactions are not only wasteful but can get easily lost and cause errors in the business. Bad penmanship and readability can cause miscommunication. Handling inventory management demands accuracy. It also needs to be informed with the latest updates regarding the business. Businesses can reduce errors by using digital systems. It can eliminate 90% of the time used in data entry.
Use wireless devices to improve communication. Communication is imperative in every stage of fulfillment and manufacturing. Emails can be sent late and left unseen. Wireless communication allows for a real-life update on the processes done in the inventory. It is more accurate and can eliminate, or at least decrease, the probability of errors in the business. Order fulfillments and delays can be referred to faster using wireless communication. This speed is critical for real-time inventory visibility.
Automate your return management. As online ordering becomes more and more popular, it’s important to look at the statistics. Approximately 30% of all online orders are returned. Leveraging automation for return management through your WMS is your best safeguard to protect your bottom line. Return Management systems allow businesses to store and track data to what is being returned and who is returning it. It can also assist in advanced allocation practices.
Store your data in the cloud. As stated, digital information can be easily accessed and stored. Storing information digitally is key, but the sheer amount of data can easily overwhelm the largest of hard drives. WithoutWire has built-in cloud storage, so there’s no limit to the amount of data a business can compile. With Microsoft Azure Cloud, you get scaling, security, and monitoring, alongside the benefit of digital storage.
Check the potential Return on Investment (ROI) before adopting new technology. Advancements in technology are powering significant advances in inventory science, but there are caveats. Advertisements for new technology are left and right, and always enticing. Adopting new technology without proper research can be detrimental to your business. It’s best to take a look at the “why behind the why” of your WMS, and consult your support staff to see if the technology is helpful, or if it’s another hurdle.
Look into incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions. AI advancements are showing real promise for inventory management and re-thinking how a supply chain is run. With cloud-based data and machine learning, your WMS could be able to forecast issues and automate processes that save you time and money, with little to no up-front cost.
Focus on visibility. A modern WMS offers dozens of ways to stay vigilant over your supply chain, but they only work if you use them. It is important to train and enlighten your staff on how to use your new system. Taking the time to familiarize employees with all of the options available and helping them customize dashboards so they are able to quickly and efficiently navigate the inventory platform. It will decrease delays inputs and errors in the system. Furthermore, it can also help in your assessment of whether a new system is beneficial for your company.
Save money with wave-picking and cross-docking. If a business is struggling with storage, managing inventory by employing cross-docking through their WMS offers a seamless solution that saves time and makes processes easier for employees. Wave picking is supremely useful for businesses with a particularly complex shipping system, and if an advanced tracking method is adopted, both cross-docking and wave picking can save significant amounts of time and money.
Use forecasting in your budgetary planning. Advanced allocation gives businesses the opportunity to forecast supply needs, seasonal demands, and contribute to avoiding overstocks, or short supply. Forecasting in your budget meetings allows you to strategize and plan, letting your WMS take care of the rest. The algorithms and formulas available within WithoutWire are built to help businesses forecast while automatically updating in real-time.
Operational Best Practices
Utilize Advanced Shipment Notifications (ASNs). ASNs are electronic notifications sent from the buyer to inform the company about an impending delivery. This is a simple solution that can reduce the receiving effort by 70%. ASNs can help with backed-up receiving and reduce delays in the delivery of orders.
Add a Put away Process. Put away refers to the process of moving incoming inventory from the receiving zone to another location that is optimal for storage. More often than not, it is not seen as an urgent priority. However, neglecting this function can negatively affect the management of your inventory. It can result in lower fill rates, congestion in the aisles, and picking obstructions. A WMS will prioritize hot receipts—those that need to be immediately replenished or cross-docked—and help you monitor and manage zone congestion.
Simplify Picking Procedures. Wave picking, batch picking, pick and pack, pick and consolidate, and discrete order picking are some of the things to consider in managing inventories. It's best to keep this process simple by reducing the number of selection methods used and working on a regular schedule. Moreover, the allocation of a few large waves instead of many small ones is preferred. For larger groups of orders, a warehouse management system can select the right assignment size and group orders to optimize the pick paths.
Adapt to changing product demands through re-slotting. It is best to maximize the space of the inventory to maximize storage and ease deliveries. A part of the normal picking or put away process is to move a product to optimal locations.
Map your processes. Mapping your processes is a great way to identify unnecessary activities. Look for ways to streamline, simplify, and eliminate steps that do not add value. Over time, small, incremental improvements can make a big difference.
Those are best practices for warehouse management. As can be seen, digital systems have become a necessity in the efficiency and optimization of your inventory. While inventory management can be downplayed as mere storage of products, it can greatly affect the production and fulfillment of deliveries by the company. It is important to assess all aspects of the business, most especially warehouse management. As your company becomes bigger, management of inventories can become too difficult to handle manually. Making use of a warehouse management system can decrease labor and order delays for your business.
WithoutWire offers a WMS that help with inventory managing. The Inventory Platform WMS can assist with the seasonal allocation of products, using algorithms custom-made from the data provided by your business. It can help with budgetary planning, as well as a myriad of other things. We can help optimize your inventory and increase order fulfillment for your business.
If you are curious, contact us for more information and we’ll be happy to assist!