Follow a Proven Process Rather Than Rely on Autopilot…

Warehouse process automation is booming like never before and I see two main reasons for that accelerated growth - continuing labor issues and advanced technology adoption.

For years, labor in physical distribution has been a concern – quality, turnover, qualifications, regulatory and human resource overheads have been among the most challenging aspects of finding and properly utilizing the people in the DC. Task automation mitigates some of those concerns and is a common transition in repetitive or predictable tasking, whereby the movement from people-supported to automation-supported is ongoing.

Now, with the trials and tribulations of a global pandemic ongoing, nimble and flexible technology that saves precious time, money and resource is a must and has become much more available and adopted. Just five years ago cost was prohibitive, but today process automation solutions are far more affordable with greater choices among form/fit /function models.

Alongside these models, as commercially available components are released – rather than bespoke build-to-suit options – task automation has become a lot more agile in terms of use and purpose. As we move forward, such trends will only accelerate to control stocks, fulfilment, shipping and delivery.

Mitigating Risks and Supply Chain Breakdown

Those businesses that have been able to survive and thrive in COVID-19 logistics disruptions are those who have invested in intuitive and adaptive cloud-based technology like WMS, giving them the flexibility to respond swiftly to changing supply chain and commercial demands. For example, the pandemic has seen a sharp rise in demand for e-commerce and in particular direct to consumer (DTC). So, it’s more critical than ever to consider the warehousing part of the supply chain.

Highly configurable WMS software means every aspect of the e-commerce fulfillment process can be automated, streamlined and made intuitive for floor staff and management.

For the goods-in process there’s no need for workers to memorize a labyrinth of locations or a compendium of codes and rules. It allows your labor to scan cases for failsafe identification and validation and supports default units of measure for receiving. Tying receipts back to purchase orders will also allow processes to be completed around over/under/ partial receiving.

Additionally, structured cycle counting will automatically result in stock and capacity numbers being performed concurrently with other warehousing tasks – ensuring that the auditing process takes place with maximum efficiency and minimum disruption to operations.

Managing a strong reverse logistics operation also requires a healthy set of technology driven automated procedures and systems that capture and evaluate increasingly important data sets from every step in the process. Data analysis and the associated process improvements ensures that customer satisfaction goals are met, that warehouse workers are performing at the highest levels of efficiency, and that you maintain compliance across the entire supply chain.

What’s more, by automating and recording the QC verification and validation of every order, a more agile WMS can significantly boost the speed and accuracy of packing and shipping processes, without adding labor. Consider also built-in remote monitoring and continuous improvement tools, because the best WMS software will identify trends and allow for automation when it comes to establishing KPIs.

Immediate productivity improvements are also guaranteed through automated task management functionality. In addition to accurately recording and verifying inbound goods at both receiving and put-away, it also drives a rolling inventory count allowing any discrepancies to be identified in a timely manner and adjusts records accordingly to maintain the highest levels of stock accuracy and integrity.

In short, technologically advanced DC process and task automation ensures that productivity, efficiency and accuracy are hard-wired into warehouse operations from start to finish –and that’s to the benefit of both customers and the bottom line.

Raphael SmithaBy Smitha Raphael – Chief Product & Delivery Officer for SnapFulfil

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