The ‘smart’ warehouse – where everything’s in its place…

Effective inventory management calls for a more configurable WMS, because fulfillment centers that inspect receipts, move them to the best location and use the data at their disposal have the ability to speed up this crucial process and achieve optimum accuracy.

The rapid advance of cloud software in the last few years has allowed logistics and ecommerce managers to rethink their operations from the ground up, particularly when it comes to put-away. A best-of-breed WMS, paired with handheld devices that tells your people exactly what to do and where to go, provides complete certainty on how every item should be handled and stored – plus all-important instant visibility of your inventory.

Snapfulfil warehouse
Snapfulfil warehouse software is used at Creative Distribution in Croydon.
Photograph by Martin Neeves Photography & Film – www.martinneeves.com – Tel: +44 (0)7973 638591 – E-mail: martinneeves@googlemail.com

Smarter warehouses recognize that inventory management is continuous, rather than a process that ends the minute a shipment is received and put-away. Human error and manual/paper processes can both lead to inventory mishaps at multiple points, from goods-in to packing and shipping.

Without a keen focus on accuracy, inventory management mistakes result in lost productivity and reduced revenue – your customer receives the wrong item, generating unexpected returns, or you may not have the correct item in your warehouse to begin with, causing order processing delays.

The majority of inventory errors occur at two crucial checkpoints: receiving and put-away. Fulfillment centers face many potential pitfalls while receiving goods, but an agile and adaptable WMS will allow your labor to scan cases for failsafe identification and validation and also supports default units of measure for receiving. As an added benefit, tying receipts back to purchase orders will allow processes to be completed around over/under/ partial receiving.

Put-away errors can be even more of a headache, as they’re difficult to identify quickly, however, barcode or RF scanner-driven WMS provides proper processes and much greater visibility and validation to assist in locating inventory. It allows you to investigate what was put-away before and whether the inventory went to the same location of a previously put-away line.

Because your business needs to know what capital it has tied up in inventory, an advanced WMS also includes cycle counting functionality which will automatically generate the inventory counting tasks to be performed concurrently with other warehousing tasks – ensuring any auditing process takes place with maximum efficiency and minimum disruption to your operation.

As buying trends shift, the ability to alter inventory locations on the fly is critical for productivity too, while your WMS productivity data will give you a better idea of how to address labor and tracking inefficiencies. When you put away inventory without a verification scan, you’re more likely to make an error in data recording – which then must be rectified during the picking process.

WMS software additionally drives best practices for replenishment, because an optimized system saves on costs and ultimately cuts down on the errors that can cause the entire inventory workflow to break down.

Whether it’s demand-based, routine or top off, all three of these replenishment methods could be in use at the same time in the same facility – for example supplying a grocery store chain dealing with seasonal products, staple foods and meals that require special preparation and packing – so without a robust method for planning, tracking and executing these strategies, there’s no telling how much productivity could be wasted.

The best solution is an easily implemented WMS with system-directed and scan-confirmed picking. This allows data on inventory levels and item destinations to be recorded in real-time, and eliminates confusion when it comes to picking and packing for shipment. Using this reliable methodology, replenishment processes also become more efficient as workers can more easily shift between lines to pick up slack if needed.

With a fit-for-purpose cloud WMS like SnapFulfil – offering Tier-1 functionality, proven delivery methodology and enterprise-class IT Structure – you’ll gain a total solution that supports maximum inventory accuracy and visibility across the entire warehouse.

It also integrates seamlessly with other systems that might be in place like ERP, but because that’s not really geared up for facilitating more than one product per location, brings the capacity to manage dynamic locations and have a real-time handle on batch control.

Inventory management is the root of efficiency throughout your operation and by prioritizing it across processes you’ll find that errors will drop while productivity and revenue begin to rise.

 

Quality improvements present themselves in overall inventory validity; however where inventory attributes like Receipt Date, Lot/Batch Code Management and Expiration Date Management drive warehousing requirements, an RF-directed WMS also ensures dedicated and all-important management of the associated inventory.

 

Don White
Don White

By Don White, SnapFulfil CEO for North America

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button