A common warehouse problem:
You have a deadline for a production project coming. Your materials have arrived at the loading dock, so the product you need is physically on site. Only, your receiving clerks use manual, paper-based processes for new inventory, and it’s going to take days for that raw material to be keyed into your ERP and made available to issue to to the project.
In the end, the deadline must be pushed out a week. The customer isn’t happy, which means leadership isn’t happy. Management isn’t happy. Manufacturing isn’t happy. Sales and Accounting also aren’t happy.
And guess what?
The warehouse team isn’t happy, either, especially the receiving clerks. The receiving folks know they are the bottleneck in the process and that it frustrates everyone else downstream. But they don’t have the tools or the technological assistance to go any faster.
So, what if you did equip them with a solution that provided both and made everyone happy?
Enterprise Mobility in the Warehouse
A mobility solution designed specifically for supply chain processes like inventory and warehouse management could be the answer. Using wireless barcode scanners and mobile software, your operation can eliminate bottlenecks in your inbound inventory flow and accelerate downstream processes.
We’re not talking about a different way to input inventory data into a desktop computer. We’re talking about using enterprise-grade mobile devices and software to digitally automate core business processes like PO Receiving, and more. A mobile barcoding solution can solve common warehouse bottlenecks without requiring a new database or installing custom code into your Oracle E-Business Suite ERP environment.
Improvements to your warehouse can affect every level of the organization, from worker, manager, accountant, sales, and even up to the CEO.
LEARN MORE: The Pitfalls of Not Having a Mobile Supply Chain Strategy »
Where the Manual Receiving Process Breaks Down
Why do truckloads of pallets continue stacking up in receiving? Because paper processes are too slow.
Ten pallets of new inventory to replenish current stock levels arrive at the loading dock. The receiving clerks begin processing the pallets, checking quantities and inputting the new amounts into EBS, updating the inventory database and making that product available for issuing to production or order picking. From beginning to end, this takes four hours per pallet.
Not counting the time it takes to unload the truck, these ten pallets take 40 hours to process – one full-time worker’s sole task for an entire week.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Except for one thing – every pallet sits for five workdays before that inventory is actually “there,” according to EBS. The manufacturing team can see the product physically sitting in the warehouse, knowing their deadline is approaching, but unable to start their next project because EBS doesn’t know it’s there.
Delays in receiving hamper every other downstream step in the process by just as much time, significantly denting overall productivity, speed and agility. The impact can also be felt elsewhere in the warehouse, including production, accounting cash cycles, management, and ultimately, by the customer, which affects your organizational leadership’s outlook on the operation.
No wonder everyone is unhappy.
If you are okay with the fact that your incoming inventory is still tracked with handwritten notes, printed paper sheets or good old-fashioned human memory, then no problem. But if you’re not satisfied with these outdated methods for managing inventory, then maybe it’s time to enter the 21st century with a solution that can provide automated mobile data capture at the point of work, which is then transacted and updated in your ERP in real time using mobile technology.
Where Mobility Speeds Up Receiving
Let’s see what the same inbound sequence looks like using a type of mobility solution called mobile barcoding, which includes automated data capture using wireless handheld devices:
Ten pallets of new inventory to replenish current stock levels arrive at the loading dock. Let’s assume the warehouse runs RFgen Mobile Foundations for Oracle E-Business Suite, giving the warehouse manager real-time visibility into stock levels. (S)He knows additional material is needed for a new production project. Using mobile barcode scanners, the receiving clerks point and scan barcoded inventory, automatically capturing all required data with perfect accuracy and sending it to EBS. The raw material is now ready to issue to a production project.
The intake process for all ten pallets takes only 10 hours.
Instead of having your receiving clerk work an additional 30 hours on that same shipment, (s)he can move onto scanning new shipments, increasing productivity by a factor of four, or 400%, without hiring additional heads.
With a technology like License Plating, workers can scan a single barcode for an entire pallet of inventory, reducing time spent even more dramatically.
In this example, mobility enables the team to collect data at the worksite and point-of-scan, eliminating the delay between when actual work is completed and when the ERP knows the work is done. This creates huge benefits across the board.
Not only can your production projects start sooner, increasing productivity and throughput, but quicker inventory turns lead to a better cash conversion cycle. In addition, your return on investment (ROI) for the mobility solution goes up automatically because you’ve just saved 30 work hours per week, or 1,564 hours per year. At $12 per hour, that’s a savings of $18,770.
And that’s just one example.
Why Mobility Makes Everyone Happy
With a powerful warehouse mobility solution for EBS in place, everyone knows the moment new products come in the back door because it’s visible in the ERP, even from mobile devices. Inventory flows through the warehouse, transacting against the EBS inventory database as each scan takes place.
Customers are happy because they receive their items on time, as promised – possibly even early.
Leadership is happy because the warehouse operation has cut costs, increased performance and delivered first-class customer service.
Management is happy because production deadlines don’t have to wait for inventory sitting on the dock and warehouse efficiency is at an all-time high.
Manufacturing is happy because they know when their component parts have come in and can go out to the assemblers.
Sales is happy because they can serve customers using actual, real-time inventory levels. They know exactly what’s on the shelf, so they don’t have to worry about customers going elsewhere because of unexpected stock-outs or delays.
Accounting is happy because cash flows have gone up, forming a shorter cash cycle, while digital automation through mobile barcode scanning has lowered annual operating costs year-in and year-out.
And guess what?
Your warehouse team is happy, too.
The receiving clerks especially love the fact that they can be more productive more easily because they have the right tools. They don’t have to spend most of their time wrangling piles of paperwork, and they know the rest of the warehouse isn’t blaming them for bottlenecking the rest of the operation.
In this case, using an enterprise mobility solution like RFgen to digitally automate business processes helped this warehouse improve productivity, speed, accuracy, cash flow and employee morale. So why not make everyone happy by cutting out that bottleneck in receiving, breaking free from manual processes and automating your warehouse with a modern mobility solution?