Tips for Improving Warehouse Operations Using Technology

RFID technology can also make it easier to rate vendors based on quality and performance

"Not only can robotic automation help manufacturers achieve greater warehouse productivity, but it can also drive significant cost savings as compared to employing workers." - Jennie Dannecker

34. Consider automation. “Boston Consulting Group research shows 1.2 million robots are expected to be deployed across manufacturing facilities in the U.S. by the year 2025.  Why?  Not only can robotic automation help manufacturers achieve greater warehouse productivity, but it can also drive significant cost savings as compared to employing workers.” – Jennie Dannecker, 10 Ideas for More Efficient & Productive Warehouse OperationsCerasis; Twitter: @Cerasis

35. Implement advanced shipping notifications (ASN). “This may seem like a no-brainer, but many distribution centers still have not implemented electronically transmitted advanced shipping notifications (ASN). Relying on a ‘regular’ shipping & receiving schedule can result in inefficiency throughout the distribution center. Delays happen, disruption happens- and it causes deviation from the ‘regular’ schedule. The resulting issues start with improper staffing at the receiving dock and ripple through the warehouse. However, by leveraging electronic advanced shipping notifications within the purchase order and inventory management functions, labor can be planned with more certainty. Order fulfillment and transportation activities can be adjusted to ensure proper service time requirements are met, and transport modes are optimized to keep costs down.” – 11 Warehouse and Distribution Center Best Practices for Your Supply ChainLegacy Supply Chain Services; Twitter: @LEGACYscs

"Many companies have chosen RFID technology to improve the efficiency of the receiving process and track their materials in a more cost-effective manner."  - Floship

36. Improve receiving processes with RFID technology. “Many companies have chosen RFID technology to improve the efficiency of the receiving process and track their materials in a more cost-effective manner.

“RFID technology can also make it easier to rate vendors based on quality and performance, allowing workers to compare order sheets and invoices and ensure the accuracy of each shipment as it is received.” – How to Improve the Warehouse Receiving ProcessFloship; Twitter: @floship

37. Measure results. “Accountability and measuring results of warehouse operations are critical to enhancing and improving productivity. Often, the focus is to get it in and out of the dock and get through the shift. When asked how many cases per man hour each laborer picks or how many pallets per hour a put-away operator moves, the common response is ‘we don’t measure that.’

“When asked how many receiving and picking errors per operator, per shift or per order, again this typically isn’t measured effectively. By measuring results per operator and per shift, warehouse managers can quickly identify and create accountability for warehouse personnel to ensure that the workflows are even and order accuracy is maintained.

“There are many cost-effective methods for these measurements, such as assigning a complete order to each order selector and then sorting the orders for the shift compared to hours worked. This method can also create accountability for the order selector when an error occurs.

“This method may seem punitive, but ensuring that order selectors maintain not only productivity but accuracy is critical to maintaining customer service. In larger operations using a WMS with either scanners or voice systems, they can automatically track these measurements in real time. Voice seems to be the most popular to ensure that order selectors can pick orders hands-free. Scanners are still most commonly used for putaway and receiving.” – Warehouse ImprovementsDistribution Property Solutions, Inc.; Twitter: @DistPropSol

"Plenty of options are available to increase efficiency – including bar codes, radio frequency, pick-to-label, pick-to-light, and voice-activated technologies." ~ Michael J. Stolarczyk

38. Understand your technology options. “Plenty of options are available to increase efficiency – including bar codes, radio frequency, pick-to-label, pick-to-light, and voice-activated technologies. These technologies are designed to provide different levels of increased picking productivity and improved accuracy.” – Michael J. Stolarczyk, 10 Ideas for a More Efficient Warehouse OperationJOC.com; Twitter: @JOC_Updates

39. Use a WMS to implement an efficient returns process. “Returns processing modules should be tightly integrated into the existing WMS. The integration allows for real-time inventory control, immediate inventory allocation, instant picking from the returns area, and cross-docking to a shipping dock.” – Alex Parvenov, Expert Insight: Best Practices in Warehouse ReturnsSupplyChainDigest; Twitter: @scdigest

"Instead of going through all the standard procedures and processes like posting your job advertisement, evaluating resumes, holding interviews, and checking references, warehouses can use on-demand staffing platforms that automate the entire process." - Wonolo

40. Use an on-demand staffing platform to automate warehouse staffing. “When it comes to successfully staffing warehouse jobs, it might be time to think outside of the box. Instead of going through all the standard procedures and processes like posting your job advertisement, evaluating resumes, holding interviews, and checking references, warehouses can use on-demand staffing platforms that automate the entire process. All you have to do with these online staffing platforms is write a quick job description and include details like pay, hours, and warehouse location. The result is warehouse managers can get back to spending time on their day-to-day tasks. Automated staffing platforms are ideal for short terms roles that need to be filled in a timely manner. Furthermore, on-demand staffing platforms take care of things like vetting and pre-screening. Onboarding time can also be greatly reduced.” – 7 Tips For Successfully Staffing Warehouse JobsWonolo; Twitter: @Wonolo

41. Use software-guided sequential order picking processes. “Conventional order picking processes depend heavily now on the use of automated, voice-controlled systems. With that said, however, the use of these systems in tandem with wave-picking strategies causes a lot of problems for warehouse efficiency. What happens is that during peaks, there are not enough employees, but during walls, efficiency and productivity hit record lows. Your organization should utilize a software-guided sequential order picking process such as order streaming that will enable a continuous workflow to employees.” – Improve Efficiency and Productivity with These 10 Warehouse Operations IdeasDovetail; Twitter: @DovetailSA

"Consider investing in a strong warehouse management system (WMS), ideally one that makes use of barcode or RFID readers to generate automated pick lists for devices associated with the system." - Handling Concepts, Inc.

42. Use tracking technology. “Part of measuring what works is making sure that all of your stock is getting where it needs to go (and getting there as quickly as it can). Doing so, however, can be nearly impossible if you’re relying on outdated technology to assist in stock management and tracking. Consider investing in a strong warehouse management system (WMS), ideally one that makes use of barcode or RFID readers to generate automated pick lists for devices associated with the system. Though the initial cost and confusion associated with instituting the system might make this an unattractive option, consider these issues as simple growing pains you must endure to improve the performance of your facility and maintain its competitiveness for years to come. It’s not as though you’ll need to wait long to see results, either; a study performed by the University of Arkansas suggested that warehouses that implemented RFID tracking improved their inventory accuracy by 27 percent in three short months.” – How to Improve Productivity and Efficiency in a Warehouse, Handling Concepts, Inc.

43. Use voice-enabling technology. “Some vendors reduced the costs to make this technology available to all different sized businesses. Voice enabling can be applied to all processes and departments – from receiving to shipping and returns – for better inventory control and increased productivity. These systems have quick install times, require no IT or modifications to your WMS, don’t require extensive training and have a fast ROI – as quickly as four to six months. Do your due diligence though, because not all voice applications are created equal.” – Curt Barry, 10 Ways to Improve Warehouse Efficiency and Reduce CostsMultichannel Merchant; Twitter: @mcmerchant

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