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Top warehouse inefficiencies to address in 2018


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Warehouse operations represent a critical part of the U.S. supply chain, particularly as more consumers seek out e-commerce and online retailing options. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of American warehouses has risen by about 15 percent since 2010.

As the distribution industry continues to grow, warehouse operators must ensure that their facilities are as efficient as possible. Here’s a few key roadblocks that should be high on managers’ to-do lists this year:

Overstocking

This challenge represents an expensive issue for supply chain operations. According to John Larkin, most U.S.-based retailers have $1.43 worth of inventory for every $1 in sales, meaning that businesses are sitting on too much inventory.

When warehouse managers can’t account for current stock levels accurately, many will bring in added inventory to shore up unknown inventory. While this may offer peace of mind, it also translates to a considerable amount of tied-up working capital. A warehouse management system can automate stocking processes and ensure accuracy in stock counts, while also supporting managers with insights into optimal time to restock.

Mispicks and mis-shipments

Mistakes in order picking and shipping cost warehouses a lot of money. A single mispick can cost $22, and the average company loses about $390,000 annually because of mispicks. When they aren’t caught, a mis-shipment can cost even more, not including the impact to the company’s reputation and overall customer dissatisfaction.

This is another area where automation via a robust warehouse management system can pinpoint and address inefficiencies. Barcode scanners help reduce the chances of mispicks and mis-shipments by eliminating risks associated with manual data entry. Any picking errors are identified instantly by the barcode scanner, and incorrect items never make it to shipping, let alone customers.

Inventory count errors

Another damaging inefficiency that shouldn’t survive past 2018? Mistakes in cycle and inventory counts, most of which happen with manual, paper-based processes.

While inventory counts are undertaken to help support accurate inventory records, manual counts are time-consuming and prone to error. A worker may, for example, accidentally group differently sized items together and count them as the same size, resulting in an incorrect count. Replacing these manual processes with an automated system that leverages barcode scanners can reduce time spent on cycle and inventory counts and cut down on errors. Best of all, when items are scanned and counted, data is automatically added to the inventory management system, further reducing administrative tasks and supporting accuracy without extra work.

Picking time

Warehouse managers should look to improve on the processes that workers use to move about the facility and pick items. Today’s warehouse management systems are advanced to the point that they can direct pickers on how to take the most efficient route to their picks and provide optimal picking order based on size and quantity. In this way, workers can save time and increase pick rates. Furthermore, businesses engrain this knowledge into the fabric of their operations so even inexperienced workers carry out their duties like seasoned professionals.

Incoming inventory errors

Inefficiencies can exist within activities related to incoming inventory as well. Some warehouses still use time-consuming and error-prone manual processes for counting and reconciling incoming shipments, which delay outgoing orders awaiting updated inventory data.

Instead, workers can leverage barcode scanning to more quickly receive and verify incoming shipments because scanned data is automatically sent to the warehouse management system, no extra steps needed. This supports speed and accuracy, and ensures that human errors related to incoming inventory are avoided.

Warehouses with barcode scanners as part of their advanced warehouse management system can increase operational efficiency, reduce picking errors and mitigate avoidable costs, all while improving working processes for employees. To find out more, connect with the mobile warehouse data collection experts today.

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