We talk to many prospective customers (warehouse managers and operations execs) who are looking to improve their warehouse operations and efficiency. The common theme….they just can’t stand the pain anymore.
The pain points most commonly mentioned include:
- Inventory getting lost
- Picking is slow and tedious, especially when stuff is missing
- Errors happen, lots of errors
- Shipments are often late
- Expensive charge backs for all of the above
And it’s not just small companies, these problems occur in some very large organizations.
Data is stuck in spreadsheets and paper
The root of the problem is data. If the warehouse runs on paper, including spreadsheets and paper pick tickets, finding the right data at the right time is tough. Planning work, such as picking, is primarily a manual process, where managers sort pick tickets to meet immediate priorities and hand them to pickers.
Finding data is only half the battle. Recording information back into an ERP, Excel or an order management system is equally tedious. Once picking is complete and shipments are out the door, information must be manually entered back into the system for various downstream reporting and billing. Manual data entry is fraught with error creation.
Real-Time operations and data to the rescue.
Getting out of the spreadsheet, paper and manual data entry maze is not impossible, but it requires an investment in time, money and acceptance of change. Today’s modern warehouse management systems put data (orders, inventory information, SKU information, etc.) into a database that is available to execute operations including receiving, location management, picking, packing, shipping, etc. Data is accessed through the server array via wireless mobile computers equipped with bar-code scanners. These devices electronically direct the tasks for warehouse workers.
The systems, via RF scanners both receive instructions and send data to the host system (database) as work is completed. Everything is recorded in real-time….who did what, where and when. The database is a complete audit trail of what happened.
It’s also a record of where everything is located in the warehouse or even multiple warehouses. This becomes a perpetual inventory tracking system that directs workers where to pick, put-away or replenish inventory.
With a rich source of operational data, if you want to see it in a spreadsheet and print it on paper…no problem. Data is for analysis in many flexible reports and queries. It’s even available online, without the paper….but sometimes it’s nice to read a paper report.