Business is good, and your warehouse is growing – but your operations are struggling to keep up with the increasing production demands and customer expectations. Legacy systems, missing inventory, and inefficient processes are slowing everything down. What should you do?
One proven method for improving warehouse operations is implementing a WMS (Warehouse Management System).
Consider these four questions.
- Do you have control over your inventory?
You're supposed to have 100 units in stock, but you can only find 75 units in the warehouse. Several people go hunting for the lost stock, but no one finds it, so additional stock is ordered to fulfill orders. Months later, during the annual physical inventory, someone finds the lost product in an unmarked bin located in a completely different part of the warehouse.
Inventory management is at the heart of any warehouse operation. It affects customer service, operational efficiency, and overhead costs. A well-designed WMS can give you better control over how you manage inventory within your warehouse, as it can can tell you where a product is, how much product you have, and even schedule or replenishment.
- Can you account for your workers' time?
A study done in 2013 found that warehouse workers lose an average of 15 minutes each day to inefficient operations. In a medium-sized warehouse, with 50 workers on the floor, that adds up to nearly 3,000 lost man hours every year!
After implementing a WMS, a warehouse manager will gain better insights into what each worker does during the day, week, month, and year. A typical warehouse worker performs many tasks during any given day: receiving product, putting it away, receiving customer orders, picking them, completing orders, and shipping them. All of those activities can be tracked through the WMS, making it possible to see where any inefficiencies lie and if retraining is needed for a particular worker.
- What are your customers saying (or not saying)?
If your warehouse is slow to fulfill orders or makes persistent errors, your customers are going to go elsewhere. They might tell your sales staff about the problems, or they may just leave without saying a word. In either case, if your customers aren't happy with what your warehouse is putting out, you will need to make changes, stat!
A WMS can help streamline the order fulfillment process. It tracks where the product is in the warehouse, plots the most efficient pick route, tracks the product being picked, and helps close it out after shipping.
- Have you maximized your use of warehouse space?
A typical warehouse carries hundreds, if not thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of products, in all different sizes and shapes. This can make maximizing warehouse space a challenge, especially if you need to carry any significant amount of overstock.
If properly implemented, a WMS can help you maximize the space in your warehouse by providing instructions for where to put a product, based on any number of parameters you set. With information updated in real-time, inventory numbers are accurate. This makes it easier to order new stock before the remaining stock runs out as well as avoids taking up more space for overstock.
A well-designed warehouse management system can transform any warehouse into an efficient environment by directing workers, maximizing equipment use, and controlling inventory while simultaneously increasing productivity and minimizing errors. Those are benefits that warehouse managers cannot ignore.