For most businesses, an efficient warehouse operation underpins the entire business. Manufacturing and distribution organizations of every size are challenged with ever-shorter customer delivery expectations, greater inventory throughput, growing regulatory environment complexities, and having to do more with less staff and resources.
Implementing a Warehouse Management System, or “WMS”, helps organizations optimize efficiencies and end-to-end processes. Deploying the right WMS will help your business reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and streamline processes. The result is a more productive and reactive value proposition for your customers, partners, and staff.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of typical warehouse issues and bottlenecks that a WMS can help to address.
1. Multiple Manual ProcessesIt’s not unusual for many warehouses to practice and implement multiple manual processes in the warehouse. Take the example of having warehouse staff manually organizing data on similar items that go through the warehouse, constantly entering new data into a spreadsheet.
This doesn’t just add time and potentially require more staff. It adds the very real variable of human error into the mix, and reduces potentially efficiency to the level of whichever person completed the task.
A WMS solution doesn’t just remove the human error aspect. The automated processes scale independently of staffing levels, allowing businesses to increase service offerings or inventory items without incurring additional costs such as training or increased personnel costs.
Remedy: In the above example a possible remedy could be deploying barcode technology. Identifying inventory with a pre-printed barcode or QR code can be performed with a lightweight, easy-to-use handheld scanner. The information is then automatically sent to the WMS system to process and update every instance of that particular inventory item, in real-time.
2. Inefficient Use of Warehouse SpaceLack of adequate space is one of the major concerns for warehouse managers. This is not necessarily due to the size of the warehouse but it is generally due to designed warehouse layouts that include inadequate storage area space and warehouse areas that are not used and set up efficiently. The poor design of the warehouse and space allocation often seriously affects an organization’s profitability.
Remedy: The recommended way to resolve this issue is to secure an optimal layout that makes the best use of warehouse space and still leaves room for workers to operate. It is important to recognoze putaways, placing fast moving items in optimal and most accessible areas. Furthermore it is critical that placing warehoused items in fast moving areas will allow pickers to select products in the most logical sequencial order. When creating a carefully planned warehouse configuration you can significantly maximize productivity and be sure inventory is stored in a systematic manner. In addtion, Task Interleaving should be implemented improve operational efficency. Task Interleaving combines different tasks including cycle counting, replenishment and stock transfers into one trip and will save and create additional warehouse space and enhance the overall efficiencies within the warehouse.
3. Inexact Inventory & Location ExpansionEfficiency and accuracy are two of the most critical factors to effectively manage your warehouse operation and inventory levels. Having inaccurate and incomplete inventory levels and warehouse location issues will result in numerous issues including maintaining flawed stock levels and the build up of out-of-date inventory. When this issue arises, workers will have to secure and retrieve goods based on inaccurate information and inefficient processes. This will result in increased expenses and loss of productivity which seriously effect the organizations overall business revenue goals
Remedy: Initiating and launching a strong Warehouse Management Software platform with well thought out quality control checks is the answer to solve the aforementioned issues. Accurate inventory levels and storage information will ensure goods are secured and retrieved smoothly and help to be sure goods reach customers as quickly as possible. Warehouse personnel should be scanning products and their locations so they can be picked in the most efficeint manner. In addition, cycle counting should be incorporated as part of your overall warehouse operation. Cycle counting is a method of checks and balances enabling companies to confirm physical inventory counts match their inventory records. This will definitely help to verify inventory accuracy and the cause of goods not being received in an efficient manner
4.Seasonal DemandsPlanning for seasonal variations of your business and items being stored is a critical aspect of your warehouse operation. As certain products experience the same amount of interest throughout the year, certain products are more popular during specific times of the year. When you have a spike in demand for products of a seasonal nature it is of paramount importance that your warehouse is adequately prepared to take on the accelerated demand for orders. The last thing you want is not having adequate products in stock or not know where to store them on short notice.
Remedy: The most effective way to ready for seasonal demand products is to be aware of current market trends and the variations in the demand for products stored in your warehouse. In addition, it is important that you continuously have a two-way communications process with your clients so you are aware of of seasonal demand issues and spikes during peak seasons that your customers encounter on a day-today basis.
5.Shortage of LaborOver the past few years there has been a significant labor shortage because of Covid 19, the increased demand for logistics services and many workers not returning to the workforce. Since managing a warehouse is so labor intensive, this can be a serious issue for a warehouse operation. A report by the publication InstaWeek indicated that 73 % of warehouse operators have incurred difficulties attracting workers in 2022 which is almost 3x the amount of the previous year in terms of warehouse shortages. Labor shortages are forcing 3PL warehouses to delay shipments to their end users which has a serious effect on revenue goals.
Remedy; To help solve labor shortage issues the best solution is to rely on technology and intelligent automation processes. By automating workflow processes and decisions in order processing, picking, packing and shipping, you will maximize productivity and your labor requirements. Be prepared to ask workers to take on extra shifts and work on weekends to compensate for labor shoratges.
Resolving warehouse issues with an efficient Warehouse Management Software (WMS) will help to curtail many of the issues listed and noted above. Once you recognize these issues and challenges you are facing in your warehouse operation, it is critical that you determine a plan before things sprial out of control.
Leveraging a smart WMS platform like Evolve CoreWarehouse can help you manage warehouse operations smoothly with minimal effort. The CoreWarehouse cloud-based Tier 1 software is highly configurable and its easy to structure a workflow to automate processes and minimize shipment delays and errors.
The Evolve CoreWarehouse WMS platform includes features such as Barcode Technolgies, Intelligent Automation, Cycle Counting, Advanced Shipment Notices, Pick and Pack workflow processes, Customized Customer Portals where customer can access their specific inventory levels and CoreMobile enabling warehouse personnel to access inventory information within the warehouse from any smartphone or mobile device.