In week two of this ongoing series we will take a deep dive into some easy to implement supply chain management solutions that will help to reduce labor costs and improve inventory data availability. In many cases warehouse operators may overlook these easy-to-implement fixes, but don’t count out the impact of frequent, small operational tweaks.
Tip # 4: Label Inventory and Warehouse Locations Effectively
Time and labor are critical commodities in operating any warehouse or third party logistics business. Warehouses that lack adequate signage and labeling tend to have higher operating costs including that of labor.
Implementing labeling to industry standards can have a measurable impact on your business in terms of time, labor, order fulfillment rates and errors. This can also enhance the morale of your warehouse workforce and reduce frustration and lost products. With today’s technology, labels are made to meet a wide variety of needs in the warehouse, from highly durable to temperature sensitive for cold storage warehouses. A relatively minor investment in labeling can help ensure that warehouse workers do not waste time, handle the correct product and fulfill orders in a timely manner.
Tip #5: Take a Closer Look at Your Warehousing Processes
All too often warehouse operations become corrupted and manual workarounds are introduced into processes in order to compensate for a lack of WMS software functionality or other reasons. What may have started out as an effective process can become cumbersome and a drain on time and labor.
Examine each of your operational processes. Meet with your team and produce a process diagram that depicts each process. Study it and discuss it with your team to get feedback on where time and labor are being wasted.
Here is where you start with each process:
- Determine if the process is actually needed and valuable
- Consider if the process is redundant in all or in part. Can you eliminate part or all of the process by relying on automation or technology?
- Is the process efficient? Can it be improved in some way?
- Does the process maximize the use of labor resources?
- How many people are involved in this process? In each part of the process? Can this be improved in any way to save on labor?
- Does the process waste time or use time efficiently?
- Can alteration of warehouse space or repositioning of equipment or resources increase the efficiency of the process?
- Consider the technology aspect. Would this process be more efficient if you were using different technological tools, i.e. RFID, mobile computers rather than desktop, warehouse management solution, etc.?
- Consider the impact that using a workflow based warehouse management solution could have on your operation. For example, Datex FootPrint® WMS is a warehouse management system that relies on workflow to automate each operational process so that manual input and decisions are not needed. Workflow-based WMS are ideal for processes that involve multiple decision points, quality assurance and quality control and other efforts.
Tip #6: Take Pictures
Warehouse operations often occur at breakneck speed. Take advantage of the low cost of digital cameras and put them to work in the warehouse.
Digital photographs can be used for a variety of reasons including to document problems or provide proof of compliance. Whether your warehouse workers use mobile computers or Smartphones, taking photos can save your business time and save you money in the short and long term.
Here are some ways to incorporate photographs into the documentation of your warehouse, distribution or 3PL operation:
- Photograph interior of vehicle (railcar, trailer etc.) prior to unloading
- Take pictures of shorted goods to use a proof then attach to documents for processing
- Document damaged goods
- Post a picture of the contents of a box on the outside
- Document that warehouse aisles are built to legal standards
- Legal notices posted for employees
- Bathrooms and breakrooms (for safety regulations)
- Company communications to employees (holidays, vacation schedules, etc.)
- Exits and entrances (to document accessibility)
- Before and after photographs of the warehouse prior to organization projects
For best results in finding documentation about inventory, make sure you store your photos, videos, etc. in the inventory records of your warehouse management solution. For example, Datex FootPrint® WMS enables you to store any kind of file or document easily within the inventory record for fast, easy access.
See part one: Tips on Inventory Management for an Optimized Warehouse