No one would ever say that managing a warehouse or several is an easy job. One problem that seems small at first glance has the potential to disrupt the entire supply chain. In many cases, errors are identified too late, causing a lapse in productivity. Sometimes, it is too late to correct the error without causing further damage. But what if you could tackle common warehouse management problems before they started?
Let’s examine the top warehouse management problems, as well as the recommended solutions, so you are better prepared.
Disorganized Warehouse Layout
Did you know that the average warehouse worker will walk the distance between Chicago and New York City every year? That doesn’t have to be. One of the most critical factors in success is being able to use space efficiently. When a warehouse has a poorly optimized layout, employees may get lost when searching for an item or spend much of their time traveling from point A to B and back again. Forklifts could struggle to reach certain products, and there may also be instances where certain pallets are left forgotten. In short, a disorganized warehouse layout means a loss in profits.
Make use of vertical floor space, as well as forklifts and other equipment, and ensure that products are sorted based on popularity or seasonality. In warehouses where perishable goods are stored, this is key. Many warehouse management systems (WMS) have features that assist with planning a more efficient layout. You can analyze the data gathered by the system to see which items should be placed where, as well as assign locations based on SKUs or other information.
Lack of Preparedness
When it comes to supply and demand, the seasons play a significant role. A dip in sales during the summer could suddenly shift to high demand during the winter, and that will cause havoc on inventory levels. Managing the seasonality of demands requires a bit of forecasting and preparedness that is challenging to acquire when there is no data to analyze.
Thus, technology comes to the rescue once again. Monitoring stock levels and predetermining what will be in demand can help you strategize the production or purchase of certain materials or items. Furthermore, you can rearrange the warehouse ahead of time, ensuring that when the season comes around, the items are right where your employees need them to be.
Forecasting capabilities are key modules in ERPs like SAP Business One, but you could use an out-of-the-box WMS like Agility from Wisys as well.
Are you still relying on paperwork and spreadsheets to keep track of inventory counts? When the workflow is built upon redundant tasks, some operations can be performed multiple times. Plus, such redundancies could also lead to incorrect inventory counts, which adds to time and money lost.
Take order picking, for example. When multiple people are working together to gather products for an order, there is a chance that someone makes a mistake. One solution is to invest in technology, such as a warehouse execution system (WES) or warehouse management system (WMS). Both forms of software can help you plot out picking routes for workers, as well as implement barcode technology. Scanning products not only enables you to keep track of where items are being placed but also automatically updates the system when a change to stock is made.
Poor Order Management
Order management includes everything from the moment an order is received to picking, packing, and shipping the item to the correct customer. There may also be post-sale actions, such as returns or refunds. Errors can cause the workflow to collapse in on itself—and cause dissatisfaction for that specific customer. To keep track of orders, transactions, and customer information, you may opt for an order management system or ERP.
Using software to keep track of the order and fulfillment process, as well as customer relations management (CRM), is one way to streamline everything. Increased velocity and accuracy for order completion also means more profits.
High Labor Costs
In most warehouses, the cost of labor uses about 65% of the budget. An extensive labor force—ranging from packers, managers, and maintenance—and expensive equipment is often required to stay on top of demand, but this also presents a unique challenge to warehouses. Should you attempt to minimize the workforce, it could negatively impact the operations of your warehouse.
One of the best strategies for maximizing the workforce that you have is to automate some of their tasks. For example, by implementing a WMS integrated with an ERP, you can eliminate redundant and time-consuming reporting or data entry. Employees can also receive tasks directly to a mobile device, and they can use a WMS to also guide their pick-and-pack pathway through the warehouse.
Management can also perform their job to a higher degree of success when they can strategize using a WMS. Alongside training and excellent work conditions, employee productivity can be increased exponentially when some of their tasks are automated.
Manage Your Warehouse Better With Agility WMS
Warehouses are dynamic environments that call for a dynamic solution. Poor warehouse layout, redundancies in data, lack of preparedness for seasonal demand, and other mistakes can cause major issues within your organization. Fortunately, technology can come to the rescue. Implementing a robust ERP or a flexible and scalable WMS like Agility by WiSys can resolve most of your problems quickly.
If you are ready to try a WMS for your warehouse, get in touch with WiSys by calling us at 770-955-3530 or request to see a demo of our WMS.