With more than 28 years’ experience in designing and deploying Warehouse Management Software & Supply Chain Solutions for 3PL Logistics, Supply Chain and Manufacturing operations we’re industry experts in understanding the operational needs, and in delivering solutions, enabling businesses to extract value from technology.
With the benefit of having improved hundreds of businesses spanning multiple industry sectors I thought I’d share some real-world operational improvement tips with you.
You might like to consider these when looking to optimise your 3PL or Supply Chain business to improve operations, reduce OpEx and, of course, drive up revenue.
Review activities via live user-definable dashboards, even before incidents occur. Then, apply “What-if” scenarios to deliver fast actionable insights which, when implemented, will adjust operator performance in line with your planned operational output.
Remember, measurement and action should be always real-time to take into account the constant changes across your business.
Count part of your inventory in a continuous cycle. The count can be done daily, weekly or monthly as there is no disruption to your business
In-DEX WMS allows you to set the stock cycle count at either product record level, or product class level. This enables you to count your higher value stock more frequently.
At set intervals, the operative receives an instruction to pick the required quantity from the pick face. Before receiving their next pick instruction, they will be asked to blind count the balance in the pickface.
While you can set the rules, most operations will allow the operator to continue when the quantity entered matches the system quantity However where there is a discrepancy, a recount will be requested. If incorrect the second time, an automated email message can be sent to the stock office, or an automated task sent to Quality Control to strip and recount marshalled pallets where they have not left the building.
Affordable robotics technologies have become familiar in 3PL distribution for, amongst other things, stock movement, picking and packing. But before you deploy robotics technologies in your warehouse compare the long-term cost of ownership and operation to that of your manual process. considering your staff costs and planned output over the same period.
Or, how about considering RaaS (Robotics as a Service)? The top five segments for robotics-as-a-service are said to include factory and warehouse robots.
Grouping and locating similar items with similar storage needs and picking methods together aids operational efficiency. Good zone planning considers the types of material (bulk or rack storage, hazardous material, etc.) or the division of equipment and personnel used to put away, move and pick.
How In-DEX WMS helps:
Zone and by Shift & Zone pattern techniques enable management to shift operatives from zone-to-zone across the warehouse. So, for example, if replenishment volumes are heavy in one zone, an operator can be locked to that zone until all work completes (as case pick). And, if there are multiple orders in a zone where no replenishment is required then those orders can be released first, reducing picker wait times and improving operational efficiency.
On a recent implementation of a Distribution Centre (DC) for a chain of retail stores we put product away by Department and Sub Department to manage the picking. This resulted in picked pallets entering at the store level having the correct goods per department and, indeed, sub-department.
Aligning with slotting frequency, this is just as important as your picking methods. Is inventory as easy to replenish as it is to pick? Putaway logic can help you define both the receiving process and stock locations.
In-DEX WMS can manage a range of stock replenishment methods:
Split case (or broken case) picking, where individual items are picked from bins or open cartons, usually involves very high SKU quantities but low pick volumes. Unlike full pallet or full case picking, split case picking requires individual units to be picked from individual locations and placed into a container, like a tote. This requires more stock handling and more totes to process, hence increased labour cost.
A major part of a picker’s daily activity includes travel time (on foot, by forklift or pallet trucks, etc.) so reducing walk time can deliver considerable business benefits.
Warehouse managers must regularly look at the volumes through the pickfaces and continually ensure that these are optimised. There is little point having a high pick volume product at a distant location.
In-DEX WMS: Warehouse Location Chamber Throughput Heatmap Dashboard
(click on image to enlarge)
Consideration needs also to be given to pallet building logic (e.g. crushability, possible congestion on aisles etc.). In-DEX WMS can provide a visual map where the high volumes of picks are represented by the darker colours in this dashboard display.
Your warehouse operations team constantly changes and evolves. Staff should always be up-to-speed on all aspects of warehouse layout, stock types, packaging, equipment (including voice and handheld device operation), machinery, robotics equipment and software systems. And last but not least, processes. All of which must be robustly documented and audited.
In-DEX WMS Warehouse Management Software is the preferred choice to manage the operational requirements of many large and small warehouses, 3PL Third-party Logistics providers, Distribution and Manufacturing operations. Our customers include Morrisons plc, Dale Farm, Agro Merchants and more.
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