Up your Game: Easy, Manageable Steps to get More out of your Warehouse Operation
Simple process improvements through automation deliver results
As promised in Part I, automating receiving is a smart, effective and easy way to begin automating your warehouse.
Benefits of automation accrue across the entire warehouse and operation.
Automation = Accurate Receive, Sort and Fulfill
When you automate receiving you can catch shortages, discrepancies and goods damaged-on-delivery right away before they can metastasize into the rest of your supply chain. In an automated setting, you electronically capture data in real-time. This produces efficiency and cost savings down the line. Maintaining the integrity of your downstream processes enhances your ability to respond to customer demand, streamline operations, improve accuracy and enhance communication.
There is a wide variety of scanners available: handheld, wearable, vehicle mounted, corded and cordless, extra heavy-duty, industrial grade, mobile computers, and even tablets, all with a wide spectrum of performance and manageability. When choosing a scanning solution you’ll want to assess the environment and the unique needs of your operation. Here are some questions to start thinking about:
- Will it be used indoors or outdoors?
- Is the environment hot, cold, wet, dusty?
- How mobile should the solution be?
- Should it be hands-free?
- How much rough treatment can be expected?
- What about battery life?
The scanner is the tip of the spear when it comes to slaying the manual warehouse dragon, but you also want to consider the role your printers will play. Some considerations include; inventory labels, receiving labels, and the replacement of damaged or missing labels. Will you want to be able to print labels on the spot? Will you want desktop, industrial or mobile printing?
And it takes more than hardware to make your business run. It takes an entire software ecosystem formulated for your solution.
When capturing information you’re literally racing the (time) clock. Seconds add up and eat into productivity — so speed and accuracy directly impact productivity, throughput and ultimately the quality of products and customer service. You want to thoroughly asses the hardware and the software that operates within it to defeat inaccuracy and gain speed and productivity.
Automation can and MUST increase customer satisfaction. In today’s competitive environment any aspect of your operation not pointed at customer satisfaction is letting you down.
Excellent customer service begins with getting it right in receiving and flows through the entire organization to customer delivery. An automated warehouse promotes excellent customer service and customer satisfaction by reducing errors in the order fulfillment process. It’s a hedge against damaged products and poor delivery. Customer complaints decline, satisfaction rises and operations improve – measurably. Automating the warehouse operation is a critical contributor to customer satisfaction, retention and ultimately, customer loyalty.
Workforce is a customer too!
There is another hidden, but significant, benefit to automation: Employee satisfaction and retention. Empowering workers to control expenses related to lost or mislabeled items, eliminate data entry errors and increase productivity improves job satisfaction.
Workers who know exactly where products are shelved can reduce extra walking time and reduce risk of overexertion, ensuring uninterrupted productivity. Also, in many settings employees are paid for performance. If the applications they use help them to work better, they’ll feel the benefit financially.
In a 2015 VDC Research survey, nearly half of the respondents said the user experience and user interface were the most important aspects of their enterprise mobile applications. They found that if you give employees applications that are easy to use, you will see a measurable boost in productivity. When people feel that technology enables them rather than encumbers them, morale goes up and so does productivity. Also, today’s workers are used to and expect sophisticated technology. An up-to-date warehouse is a component in hiring and retaining qualified talent.
Automated processes allow your existing staff to handle a major increase in volume while increasing accuracy. By virtually eliminating errors from the warehouse, you increase profitability and boost customer service. Workers can pick more orders in less time, increasing efficiency and profit margins.
Cost savings, increased productivity and error reductions that, combined, amount to as much as one hour per day, per employee. A significant Return on Investment that can pay back initial investment within months, not years. And those figures don’t factor in the value of customer retention and customer loyalty. Zebra Technologies offers a useful free ROI calculator on their website.
Is it time for a technology partner?
While an automating your warehouse step-by-(baby)step is simple and easy, it still needs to be well thought out. An experienced technology partner can more than pay for themselves in this instance by providing expert advice, expertise, and technical support to help you asses your situation and make smart automation choices. And you get access to all that improved productivity with a very short payback window.
L-TRON Corporation provides a wide variety of solutions using leading data-collection technology, including: inventory management, supply chain management, traceability and more.
Manage your warehouse efficiently and affordably and improve your bottom line. We offer complete hardware and software solutions and we specialize in custom applications. We are Premier Partner of many top providers such as Zebra Technologies.