Many companies begin seeing a downturn in their sales and profits long before they realize they have a real warehouse efficiency problem on their hands. Unfortunately, by the time the problems have made their way out to your customers and you start receiving negative feedback, the issues have probably compounded into one big mess on your warehouse floor. So how do you determine which areas are hurting most and which issues need to be addressed first? Your WMS can help.
Problems on the Dock
If your warehouse efficiency problems are originating on the dock, it's not surprising to find that there is a cascading effect that disrupts your operation all the way down the line. A proper WMS program utilizing RFID and/or barcodes can quickly identify when a product is sitting on the dock too long waiting to be received, inspected or repacked. It can also help workers quickly identify and resolve non-conforming receipts where there is some problem with the receipt. One of the biggest problems warehouses face on the receiving dock is lack of staff to check product in quickly and lack of space to hold product while it is waiting to be checked in or moved to another part of the warehouse. If your WMS is indicating problems in receiving, it may be worth a trip down to the floor to determine whether your team members have what they need to succeed.
Problems in Picking
Picking is the second most common offender when it comes to warehouse efficiency issues. The picking process can be complicated by the layout of the warehouse along with inventory issues and other factors. Your WMS allows you to look at how many orders are being picked and how those orders are being prioritized to meet shipping windows and guarantee on-time delivery. You can also dig deeper to look at individual team member performance and determine if accuracy errors and slow moving orders can be attributed to specific people or if there is a larger problem with the way your picking team is being directed.
Problems in Inventory
The one thing that can completely derail your warehouse efficiency without being detected right away is errors in inventory counts and locations. Regardless of whether these errors occur on the receiving dock or during the putaway process, they cause havoc when it comes time to pick products. It is imperative that the correct products are in the right places. With the use of a WMS, you can use cycle counts and random quality checks to catch inventory errors before they impact your overall warehouse efficiency.
Tracking warehouse performance on paper is labor-intensive at best and usually provides a very limited view as to what your real problems are. Warehouse management software tracks data more accurately and provides you with an easy-to-understand picture of where your real problems lie. With this information, you can address each issue individually to improve your efficiency at every stage, starting with your receiving dock and working all the way down the line to outbound shipping.