A warehouse is a facility setup in the process of supply chain that acts as a link between the supplier and consumers of their products. It’s a way to integrate or align these products in a manner that results in reduced transportation costs, equilibrium between the scales of manufacturing and purchasing, as well as decreasing response time. Warehousing is a focal step that allows companies to provide adequate and on time services to their customers. Therefore, storage and inventory management essentially becomes a balancing act between ensuring sufficient amount of stock, dealing with damaged goods, and maintaining security. We have shared the best practices for warehouse management.
Some of the major challenges that a company warehouse may face in its operation is delay in the transportation of goods due to insufficient stock, lack of accurate data, and damage to the inventory due to unforeseen circumstances or not maintaining proper warehouse environment. A well-maintained Warehouse Management System (WMS) which is a computer application aimed to track and control the movement and storage of the inventory while in the company’s warehouse premises helps in providing accurate data regarding the stocks available based on the warehouse transactions carried out. Certain other best practices for warehouse management that lead to most productivity in a warehouse are as below:
1. Accessibility of Fast moving SKUs:
Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) are a scannable code, often seen as bar codes or QR codes printed on labels for products that allow for tracking the flow of inventories. Anytime a customer buys a product and checks out at a store at the point of sale such SKU code is scanned which updates the availability of the item in the inventory of the seller. Because certain products are more frequently purchased than others, designing a proper storage system that has an ergonomic location appointed for such goods provides more accessibility and efficiency in the warehouse management task.
2. Technology for Automation:
Investing in warehousing technologies that enables warehouse agents to automatically collect data regarding the warehouse logistics reduces the chance of human error. Gone are the days of manually noting down each inbound as well as outbound entry in a warehouse facility. The advent of emerging technologies that are shaping the future of logistics business, that you can read on our previous blog, new technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), GPS Tracking or Internet of Things (IoT) that are gaining popularity currently for equipping companies or 3PLs to keep a check on the stockpile, delivery and storage of their products in real time. Automating the process not only would reduce the amount of effort involved but also save time.
3. Minimizing Warehouse Waste:
Producing warehouse waste implies having overstocked products that are not required as per the consumer demand. There are goods that are either stored in excess amount, are defected or obsolete and all this “waste” can potentially lead to inefficiencies in an orderly warehouse management system and the further in the supply chain as well. Introducing Lean Management into their warehouse facility one could keep from overstocking inventory by only keeping the essential and in-demand products Besides the stocks of products, not utilizing the full area of the warehouse facility could also be considered a waste of space as you wouldn’t be taking advantage of space you’re not using but paying for.
E.g. by installing vertical shelves and using vertical Lift Modules could help utilizing the vertical space lean management of inventory.
4. Choosing the Right Picking Systems:
The most necessary activity at any storage or inventory facility/ order fulfillment centers is the accuracy and speedy turn round and therefore, selecting an effective order picking system is of utmost importance to any business involved in e-commerce or retail. Some of these methods include Wave-Picking where orders are prioritized and picked accordingly thereby keeping the supply chain operations flowing smoothly; or Sequence Picking that reduces a workers time spent travelling by fixing a set number of trips to the storage area thus increasing productivity and reducing unnecessary travel time; Zone Picking, a method wherein a warehouse is separated into zones and assigned to a particular worker; or Cluster Picking which is a warehouse methodology where multiple orders are fulfilled at one point of time. Companies or 3PLs can use more than one of such systems to streamline their delivery systems accurately.