Five Essential Warehouse Processes You Should Pay Close Attention To
A warehouse is a place where you store your goods. We’re sure there must be hundreds of more tangled definitions out there, but that’s the simplest one. Matter of fact, you already knew that, and you also know that efficient warehouse management is a mix of common sense and good practices. After all, you have done a great job with your warehouse.
Our role at Zest ERP is to help your business grow and excel with what you already have and with that extra special something we always bring to the table. So instead of being an open-your-eyes kind of article, this blog pretends to touch some well-known bullet points, and open a discussion about concepts we can’t take for granted.
From larges batches of pallets to small boxes, the reception of your goods can determine the success or the failure of your entire process. A good reception process can reduce bottlenecks which, needless to say, can be the origin of delays or problems in the subsequent areas. How do we achieve a great reception? There are all sort of methods that can be integrated and optimised, for example, to avoid congestion in your receiving area you can create a dispatch schedule for your suppliers that contemplates the drop-off time and the checking time (the time you use to review the supplier is delivering the items you ordered, and the time you invest to confirm these items are in good shape).
You also need to understand the importance of streamlining your entire process, and that’s something that should start with the reception of your goods. As soon as a new batch of the chair model XYZ comes in, the information is uploaded into your management system, sending an alert to your accounting and sales team, so they can be ready to push the old inventory and make room for the new one, for example. Besides that, the integration of your reception process can help you include beneficial methodologies such as FIFO, reducing the overstocking of old goods and assuring a healthy rotation.
Once you receive your items, where do you store them? The answer seems ridiculously obvious, and while it is, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with incorrect storage. Are you going to roll your new items in front of your old ones? What method will you use to label those goods soon to hit an expiration date? Every warehouse manager knows that finding an available and easy-to-reach location, usually called a put-away, is one of the biggest tasks of the job. It actually works in several levels: a put-away is the place where you put the freshly received inventory and is also the sport you designate for a finished product, right from the assembly line.
Again, a great inventory management system will let you know what goes exactly where. Most old-school warehouse staff will tell you that nothing beats a logbook and some scorecards, however, automated tools will make this task way easier for you. We at Zest ERP strongly believe this, and that is why our barcoding feature will let you access products notes, order details, and packing instructions, just with the swing of your hand. All you need to know about that mystery box in just one screen.
Identify which are the KPIs you need to pay attention to. Monitor these on a regular basis, which will depend on your business’ dimensions and goals. Know what an SKU is and why is important to keep an eye on them, learn how to estimate your cost per order and how to lower it down, predict a friendly order cycle time to know how long it will take for that customer’s order to ship once it’s placed. When we say that you need to track your performance, to put it in a different tone, we mean that you must write down the ingredients for a plate called success. Once you have them, duplicating the recipe would be a piece of cake. No pun intended.
Order preparation is when you select articles in a very specific quantity before shipping them to your customer(s). Now, how you do this process is really up to the warehouse manager or upper management, but in order to streamline this part of the process, your picking methodology should be standarised. Keep in mind your SKU’s are not the same for all the products you pick and pack, and think how combining them within the same ones might affect your picking productivity.
Now comes the part where you receive the orders from the sales team for items that have been ordered and that need to be shipped ASAP. It is usual that orders get released in two different ways: in real time, which is pretty much self-explanatory, or in waves, which is when you deliberately accumulate orders for particular picking times and delivery routes. See now why it’s important to know how you pick the items you’ll deliver?
Think about a customer that receives a vinyl record in really bad shape due to negligent packing. She returns the product and receives a new one, nothing extraordinary, right? Now think how much money (and time, more importantly) you could have saved if the packaging and handling of the record would’ve been more efficient? Packing is not only about handling and moving goods but also about controlling and protecting your orders. Think of it as part of the process of value-adding which, as we know, is a never-ending course.
With that being said, good packing will only lead to good dispatching. We get how these two can be taken as two separate steps, and they are, however, one will have a direct influence on the other. Items that were packed too early can clutter staging areas, but items that took forever to be packed, can delay loading and cause late deliveries. Once again, shipping and packing are deeply correlated, and if you efficiently deal with one, the other one will join you for a productivity party.
There you go, five essential processes you need to be on top of if you want your warehouse to prosper. Like we said before, you have done a great job so far, and you should congratulate yourself for that. However, we think we could also help you out, and we’re not only talking about your warehouse management. Learn why Zest ERP is the smartest choice for your business right here, right now.