In warehouses, keeping track of incoming and outgoing inventory can be challenging, especially given the pressure to satisfy the varying needs and wants of buyers, suppliers, and employees. Inventory management systems facilitate the monitoring of goods inside of warehouses, ensuring products are organized for smooth and speedy delivery. However, they must be integrated properly to fulfill this purpose. Below we outline our warehouse management system best practices.
Restructure your floorplan
The layout of a warehouse should be compatible with the current supply and demand. When these factors change, it is important to restructure the space to suit them better. By not doing so, industry professionals run the risk of decreasing the efficiency of the workflow.
One highly effective modification to inventory storage is prioritizing high selling items. While it may seem logical to sort products by supplier or vendor, it is more efficient to place all the popular products together. Positioning them near shipping stations cuts down the overall time it takes to fulfill orders.
Analyze your picking strategies
Picking refers to the process of “picking out” individual items from the warehouse’s inventory to fulfill orders. There are four main order picking methods employed, each of which offers unique advantages that make them suitable for different applications. They are as follows:
- Batch Picking: Items are organized to minimize travel time and/or ensure the products needed for an order can be picked together.
- Fixed Location Picking: Handlers utilize mobile devices to see the storage location of the necessary items.
- Zone Picking: Each handler is assigned a zone of the warehouse and, during order fulfillment operations, they bring any necessary items from their zone to a centralized consolidation and packing area.
- Wave Picking: Combines aspects of batch and zone picking to suit order fulfillment operations involving numerous SKUs and picks.
Audit your warehouse equipment
An equipment audit analyzes the current workflow and how the equipment employed helps or hinders it. The results of the analysis can help industry professionals identify potential opportunities for improving productivity.
For example, at Simplehuman, management discovered that mobile workstations could improve worker productivity when processing business-to-business orders and returns. When processing returns, they found that, “We can take the workstation to where the returns are, rather than bringing them into static offices.” By allowing the workstation to move with the employee, this reduced processing time and improved efficiency. After implementing the workstations in their warehouse, they saved 20% on administrative and operator process time for outbound goods. In addition, other benefits included improving their communication chain, and acting as an additional packaging station to process Black Friday orders.
In addition to battery-powered mobile workstations, some of the other equipment that can boost productivity in a warehouse include:
- Warehouse Mobile Workstation MAX
- Wearable barcode scanners
- Mobile handheld computers
- Vehicle mount terminals
While these systems do require upfront investment, the increase in efficiency they provide can lead to significant cost savings. Use this ROI calculator to help perform a cost-benefit analysis of mobile workstations for your warehouse.
Integrate portable devices to your warehouse inventory management system
When implementing a warehouse inventory management system, choosing one that is compatible with wireless equipment — such as barcode scanners, mobile handheld computers, and pick-by-voice systems — can save time and money. These portable devices enable workers to enter inventory data, track existing inventory, and make changes to storage locations quickly and easily. Additionally, for direct suppliers, they can show availability status to customers to facilitate ordering.
Warehouse inventory managements solutions from ACD Group
At ACD Group, we offer a wide range of systems and solutions for mobile data collection, including for storage and logistics applications. Our offerings include vehicle mount terminals, mobile handheld computer, mobile workstations and wearables. For additional information about our products and how they benefit warehouse inventory management operations, contact us today.