Human errors can be costly in today’s tough business environment. Wafer-thin margins and cost cutting are the order of the day; hence survival depends on efficiency improvements. Human errors lead to repeated procedures, waste of resources, higher labor costs, delays, and customer dissatisfaction, all leading to inefficiencies.
E-commerce and omni-channel businesses seeking to optimize their business processes and reduce human errors require a good warehouse and inventory management system. However, merely deploying a system will not solve the problem. Here are the top features of a warehouse management system, which would greatly reduce human errors.
A disorganized warehouse increases inefficiency and costs. Automating critical processes such as generating pick lists and hyper-picking enables faster and accurate delivery of orders. Manual processes, in contrast, increase the chance of shipping out an incorrect or damaged item.
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) automates key inventory tasks across the value chain, from purchase to shipment. It co-opts a variety of algorithms, facilitating wave, zone, and batch picking, various input methods, and more, aimed at eliminating error-prone manual processes and decision making.
Automated software with the ability to create purchase orders can preempt issues such as accepting orders for out-of-stock items, with orders before they occur.
Scanning barcodes to pick, pack, and ship goods spare the staff from manually entering barcode numbers, SDKUs or other product identifiers, reducing the risk of mis-picks.
Process automation takes the burden off outgoing shipments, allowing human resources to focus on the variable aspects of inbound freight and the inevitable in-house snags that occur from time to time.
Even for manual tasks, the WMS issues alerts to staff or the supervisor when scanning a wrong item. The WMS facilitates the much easier prompt remedial measure, as opposed to the much-difficult and costly rectification down the value chain.
A sound and well-designed Warehouse Management System (WMS) reduces operating expenses by determining the most effective use of both labor and space. Smart WMS software determines where to keep different materials, products and equipment, based on the probability of frequent retrieval, and thereby optimizes warehouse flow. Advanced systems with warehouse floor simulators enable users to create potential floor plans, and place pallets, shelves and other equipment in various permutations and combination, to conceptualize the most optimal flow. Optimal flows greatly reduce errors such as missed items in packages, picking up the wrong item, and more.
Quality control ensures all processes fall within a defined and desired range. In the warehouse, it ensures timely processing of orders, eliminating processing the wrong parcel, and more. Such quality control activities are a critical line of defense to ensure order accuracy.
A sound Warehouse Management System also offers support for basic management and quality principles such as FIFO (first-in-first-out) and LIFO (last-in-first-out) principles. It also offers built-in safeguards against mispicks, misships and damaged item selection. Adopting such principles allow managers flexibility to run their warehouse, without having to improvise or opt for ad-hoc shortcuts when exigencies arise. Often, it is such ad-hoc quick fixes and short cuts that lead to errors.
Visibility is the key to warehouse efficiency. Clutter can easily escalate into out-of-control chaos, spiraling costs, and missing valuable sales opportunities. It also causes delays in order fulfillment, and increases the chances of sending wrong items.
Warehouse Management System (WMS) software offers real-time data on inventory, co-opting techniques such as barcoding, serial numbers and RFID tagging. The latest systems even co-opt the Internet of Things. Such methods allow warehouse managers to document everything entering the warehouse, and tracking the movement of each item and object on the warehouse floor. Such tracking, with checks and balances provided by the automated system, greatly reduce the chance of mishandling, convoluted processes, dispatching wrong shipments, shipping damaged goods, or even goods being damaged at the warehouse.
Today’s fast-paced business environment requires instant decisions. Such decisions require live, up-to-date information.
Updating the inventory in real-time is next to impossible manually. Even if attempted, it invariably results in errors. The more diversified the omni-channel offerings, the greater the likelihood of errors.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) with strong reporting and forecasting component make it easy to eliminate inventory and stock related errors. A sound reporting system offers insight into exact stock levels at any given point of time, and allows replenishing the right stock at the right time. A WMS with real-time data sync capabilities takes the tedious work away from warehouse workers and managers, and reduces the risk of out-of-stock inventory.
Linking the WMS with the transportation management system offers a holistic picture of the inventory extending beyond the walls and racks of the warehouse. It offers accuracy into estimates such as delivery times, expected time of arrival, and other critical insights. Guesstimates on such information often lead to costly mistakes and losses.
Warehouse inventory forecasts, collated with external data, also enable sound forecasting and taking data-driven decisions. It allows managers to decide on the products to invest. It also helps in tracking the inventory, invaluable in the event of a recall. Serial numbers placed on the final product enable users to track the item back to its original lot ID, pinpointing a faulty batch or tainted goods.
Choosing a competent partner to develop warehouse management software allows the enterprise to fine-tune the software, to align with accustomed business processes. Relying on ready-made software may require the business to change its process, increasing chances of errors.
A custom developer would also be on call to troubleshoot, provide hands-on training, and clarify any doubts, leading to further efficiency improvements and reduced chances of errors. A custom platform also makes it possible to build integrations that fit with specific needs. The best WMS offers the best mix of features to optimize the warehouse process, relevant to the specific warehouse.
Finally, never underestimate the power of UX. A warehouse management system with a neat and clean interface removes ambiguity, and makes processes easy, reducing the chances of operators committing anything in error.
WMS solution is not a magic wand that cures every issue in the warehouse. However, with the right features and powerful algorithms, it can work wonders to improve accuracy and efficiency, and reduce errors in a big way. The benefits extend to improved bottom-line and enhanced customer satisfaction.
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