Not only do you have a lot of tasks on your plate, but meanwhile, clutter is building up, creating safety hazards while your team spends too much time tracking down inventory on a disorganized warehouse floor.
Clearly, you can’t solve these new challenges with old methods. Keeping up with demands while ensuring a safe, productive warehouse operation requires new strategies to gain critical time-saving efficiencies that reduce costs and optimize your workflows.
Reorganize your floor for efficiency and safety. Declutter the warehouse weekly to reduce chances of injury and to free up much-needed space. Work with your team to create a practical, streamlined disposal process for packaging and waste. Enforcing clean working spaces can be crucial to avoiding slip and trip injuries in a fast-moving facility where plastic wrap, cardboard and packing can build up rapidly.
According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of warehouse activity comes from 20% of the items. In addition, 50% of what you store only accounts for 50% of activity. For efficiency, make your fast-moving stock easily accessible. Arrange fast-moving product nearest putaway or picking areas (whichever fits your warehouse flow). If you store the same item in multiple locations, consider combining them into one centrally-located bin area.
With your space cleaned and product storage optimized, you can gain even more efficiency through automation technology, such as mobile data collection and barcoding. Using wireless barcode scanners or similar devices, workers have the ability to capture every inventory movement with a quick scan, creating high levels of data accuracy and movement visibility. Advanced automation also provides the capability to intelligently route workers directly to product locations for multiple orders along optimal paths, maximizing the efficiency and productivity of individual warehouse personnel.
Automating your entire warehouse at once isn't practical. But you can add technology in phases to create new tiers of improvement while your operation “settles in” to new automation tools. Your first step should be to introduce mobile data collection that utilizes handheld mobile devices and automatic data capture (ADC) technology through barcode scanning, eliminating antiquated paper processes and manual data entry.
Manual data collection for inventory can be fraught with errors that propagate downstream, impacting future processes, such as packing, manufacturing, shipping and maintenance. For mobile data collection with barcoding, human error is virtually eliminated. A quick scan quickly transacts the inventory, updating your ERP in real time—without having to rely on manual data entry, memory, or handwritten notes. Warehouse managers now have reliable, accurate data for decision-making based on live inventory data.
Once you've mastered data collection, expand your mobile barcoding solution to other areas of your inventory management practices. A flexible mobility solution will enable you to extend your ERP inventory database onto mobile devices, effectively providing an enterprise-level inventory management software (IMS) platform as each scan captures data and then updates your ERP data as transactions occur. Now you can accurately track the location and quantity of any item. IMS functionality not only automates data collection and inventory movements in receiving but provides total visibility into your inventory as it flows through the warehouse and out for shipping.
Your team may spend up to 60% of their workday walking around looking for items in the warehouse. In addition to this, they also spend time moving between locations during receiving, putaway, picking, and while loading trucks. Directed movement technology can drastically minimize wasted time from these activities by intelligently routing workers along optimized paths for picking, putaway and replenishment, dynamically redirecting movements as item levels change.
While many warehouse professionals know that a warehouse management system (WMS) can provide directed movement, many don’t know that you can select a WMS-Lite alternative like RFgen Warehouse Director to gain the same functionality, but at a small fraction of the cost, time, and effort to upkeep as a heavyweight WMS platform. A WMS-Lite solution can provide the same level of efficiency gains as a full WSM, reducing or eliminating unnecessary movement, saving time and improving productivity and throughput.
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