Here is the thing about warehouse management: It requires you to organize, maintain, and manage a warehouse to the best of your ability. The thing is that you cannot do this all by yourself. Even when you have optimized the process to a suitable degree, you may still end up dealing with a spread of errors that slow down your business and cut profitability. If you are experiencing order-picking problems, you need to know how to solve them.
Fortunately, using a warehouse management system can help you eliminate many of the struggles you may be experiencing.
Problem 1: Accidental Redundancy
The reality of warehouses is that multiple operations are happening at the same time, and those operations have a certain order that strings everything together. In the best situations, these operations do not crash into one another or end up getting repeated more than once. Redundancies in the workflow will only cost you—as you may have already discovered. Redundancies cause workers to do more, get less done, and make more mistakes.
So how do you fix this? In a big warehouse, where you have multiple people picking and packing a single order, you may find that products are getting picked twice, marked twice, and mistakenly shipped, for example. A warehouse management system can help you automate tasks by creating pick and pack lists for each employee. Barcoding technology, which can be integrated into your WMS, will also assist with notifying those working on an order about what has already been grabbed, so there is less chance of duplication.
Problem 2: Items Not in the Right Place
Do your workers get to where an item is supposed to be only to scratch their heads in confusion? When items are improperly marked and placed in the wrong bin, the picker spends valuable time searching. The order is delayed, fulfillment takes longer, and your customer is sure to leave a negative review.
A warehouse management system removes this possibility. Every item that is received by the warehouse is scanned, so the workers know exactly where those products belong on the shelf. When a picker goes to find the item, they check the location on their mobile device—which is connected to the WMS—and can head over to the right lot, bin, or shelf.
Problem 3: Pickers Choose the Wrong Item or Quantity
If a picker selects the wrong item or brings the wrong amount, you would hope that the packers catch the error. Unfortunately, these mistakes often go unnoticed in places where speed is a priority. As such, you send off orders with a mistake, and many have to be returned. Not only is this expensive, but it also makes your business look unreliable.
Again, this can be solved by scanning every product with a barcode during an order. Should the wrong item be scanned, the WMS will send an alert to the picker. The individual can then correct their mistake before passing off the order to the packing bench. At dispatch, the packer can scan the order again to make sure everything has been taken into account.
Problem 4: The Warehouse Layout is a Mess
In 2018, Logistics Management conducted a survey of warehouses that found that only 68% of the warehouse space is properly utilized. If you find that your employees are wandering aimlessly in search of products, that the aisles are cramped, and that your vertical space is wide open, something is wrong.
Now, you might be wondering how a WMS can help with this. Most have the ability to provide you with layout recommendations, either through a 3D model or with gathered data. You can then figure out the best layout for the aisles. Using the information gathered by the WMS will also tell you which items will soon be in demand, so you can update the warehouse layout or locations of items accordingly.
Problem 5: One Order Per Pick Run
When an order comes in, do you send out a single picker to scour the entire warehouse for every item on the list? Or do you send waves of pickers to gather several items? What about using zones? There are some strategies that are more appropriate for your warehouse. However, having one order to fulfill per pick run is the least effective. Not only are you wasting valuable resources, but you also make the whole order cycle longer.
But why does this happen? Most of the time, you are still giving pickers printed orders on a sheet of paper. They take that piece of paper and off they go. There is a better way to do this. A WMS can be used to construct workflows. Pick runs can be designated to each individual, so they can gather multiple items from a single zone, meaning that multiple orders are getting fulfilled more efficiently. Those items get combined at the pack bench, where the packers figure out what needs to go where.
Problem 6: Who Picked The Order?
When there is zero accountability, you open the door for irresponsibility on the job. Workers will get demotivated, and they will not be as productive as they could be. You need visibility in the workplace. Moreover, you need a way to track the progress of orders—as well as who picked that order.
Most WMS, including Agility from WMS, can set up workflows, as mentioned earlier. You can also communicate with workers, monitor their progress, and send alerts through the system when necessary. Not only that, but you get the added bonus of traceability. If there is a mistake with the order, or if an item is returned because it was damaged, you can go through the data collected by the WMS to determine when the problem occurred.
Use Agility WMS to Solve All Your Order Picking Problems
Using a warehouse management system (WMS) is one of the best ways to smooth out the hiccups in the order processing cycle and manage your business more effectively. Not only do you get real-time data collection, but you can also manage your employees more effectively. Agility from WiSys is a complete solution, regardless of the size of your warehouse. If you are interested in learning more about Agility or our other solutions for your warehouse, give WiSys a call today at 770-955-3530 or request a demo.