A systematic approach to relieving warehouse pain points can improve productivity and efficiency
Every supply chain has its own set of warehouse pain points dependent on the type of industry they work in or company size. However, these pain points often stem from inefficiencies and lack of systems, and are manifested as a result of either lack of attention or lack of process, both of which affect your supply chain optimisation.
Despite much progress made in the development and integration of systems and automation in warehouses, manufacturers, retailers, and distribution centres are still confronted with many formidable challenges in improving the efficiencies in operating a variety of warehouses. Inefficient cycle counting, inaccuracy, and costly labour expense are typical pain points for a warehouse, which frequently are caused by inefficient flow of information.
If you run a warehouse, then you know that there several different elements that all need to work together to create an efficient workplace. Unfortunately, due to many moving parts on the warehouse floor, it can seem impossible and overwhelming to manage everything all the time, which is why so many warehouses have inefficient operations.
What is a Warehouse Pain Point?
Simply put, it refers to a specific operation that is a cause of delays or problems on the floor.
Whether it’s inventory not being sorted correctly or workers spending too much traveling from place to place, a pain point is essentially a bottleneck that can affect your bottom line.
To properly identify a pain point you must look at your operations as a whole and see where you are falling behind. We have highlighted the most common pain points that warehouses experience and how you can improve these.
Lack of Communication
The importance of employee communications is often overlooked. You should communicate with them frequently, and speak with them face-to-face. Your staff needs to know they are valued, and communicating in person with them is the best way to show your appreciation for their hard work.
Give your employees more of a say in how they do their job. Ask for their input and get suggestions on how they can improve their performance. Most employees have ideas about how they can be more efficient, but they may not share them with you unless you specifically ask them.
Manually Data Entry
Manual data entry can be a very tricky and time-consuming process for any business organisation and can be one of the major warehouse pain points where data in incorrectly entered. With digital technology being so widely available these days and RFID tags and scanners are much more affordable than they used to be, you should be digitising your inventory process to improve productivity.
This will not only reduce human error, but it can speed up everything as you don’t have to spend the extra time writing things down and entering it in later. Also, there won’t be any delays between taking inventory and entering it into the system, so you will never be out of date with your numbers.
Measured in time and money – order picking is without doubt the costliest activity in a typical warehouse. It is also the activity that plays the biggest role for customer satisfaction with the warehouse.
There is nothing worse than finding out after the fact that someone miscalculated the inventory, been picking the wrong products or taking longer than necessary finding the rights items.
When fulfilling orders, you don’t want your employees to be running back and forth between sections of the warehouse. Lost time in transit can add up to substantial setbacks, as a minute here and minute there can lead to days of lost productivity per year.
Typically, picking is inefficient if you don’t plan your routes ahead of time. While organisation plays a significant role, planning is just as important. You can gain tremendous efficiency by grouping together the 20 percent of your SKUs that complete 80 percent of your orders. This cuts down on travel time for your pickers. Be sure, however, that the 80/20 area or zone is properly designed to accommodate high-volume activity.
With a WMS, distributors and wholesalers will know exactly what’s in the warehouse, where it’s located, and when it needs to be replenished, at all times – eradicating another one of the major warehouse pain points.
Accuracy and efficiency in handling inventory in warehousing go hand in hand and can be the cause of another warehouse pain points. Inaccurate inventory causes problems such as maintaining improper stock levels and buildups of obsolete inventory. Picking problems also arise when pickers rely on inaccurate information, leading to inefficient processes. Other costs of inaccurate stock information include increased expenses, lost revenue and low productivity. Automation is a key factor in solving accuracy-related problems.
This problem usually arises when inventory is not being put away properly. If you are stacking products in such a way that it’s hard to see everything, then your numbers will invariably be off on a regular basis. This can lead to over or under ordering product, which will then compound the problem and lead to even bigger setbacks later on.
Automated systems such as a cloud based WMS will offer real-time, accurate information about stock levels and composition.
Stock quality control
Quality control is a vital aspect of stock control – especially as it may affect the safety of customers or the quality of the finished product.
Efficient stock control should incorporate stock tracking and batch tracking. This means being able to trace a particular item backwards or forwards from source to finished product, and identifying the other items in the batch.
When goods arrive into the warehouse, they should be checked for quality and faults identified. This will allow you to raise any problems with your supplier and at the same time demonstrate the safety and quality of your product. It will also ensure the customer receives the product they have ordered in the condition they are expecting.
Warehouse Layout & Disorganisation
This is usually the number one cause of delays in a warehouse and a one of the major warehouse pain points, which means that you should spend more time on organising your floor than anything else. Even if it seems like a massive undertaking to reformat your layout, the cost of doing nothing could be much higher. The best way to determine your ideal organisation setup is to track employee movements throughout the day and see where transit is taking the most time.
Spots that get a lot of action should be bundled together, and those that don’t should be moved to a less trafficked area. Overall, the more effort you can put into streamlining your organisation the better off you’ll be.
Many of the above warehouse pain points problems can be alleviated by embrace the latest WMS technology.
Leveraging an advanced Warehouse Management System will allow your company to troubleshoot pain points with planning and forecasting by allowing you to better understand product cycles and therefore ensure your product flow is smooth, inventory costs are kept in check and space is used as efficiently as possible.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.