Is your picking strategy holding you back? Surprisingly, it might be! If you’re struggling to improve operational efficiency, a small change in your picking process could go a long way towards boosting both productivity and bottom line.
There are a number of challenges that you may encounter in your picking process, and their impact on your distribution can become toxic if left unmanaged. Follow warehouse best practices to tackle these picking problems and ensure that you are using your smart warehouse technology to its full capabilities.
If an item is not where it should be in the warehouse, this means the picker wastes time searching for it. This delays the order fulfilment, which results in unhappy customers and negative reviews. Additionally and importantly, it is highly inefficient warehouse operation.
If the wrong items or quantities are picked, time is wasted at the pack bench where (hopefully) the error is noticed. If the fault is not realised, the wrong items are dispatched which will require a refund or replacement. As well as costing money, it is bad for your brand. When calculating the cost of a mis-shipment, don't forget to consider shipping costs, returns costs, labour time to re-pick, customer service work, and time spent rectifying bad online reviews.
If you're unable to effectively track and manage your warehouse staff throughout the picking process, your operation will lack accountability.
No accountability in a team is divisive, demotivating, and hard to manage. Warehouse managers need to be too involved (video link) to monitor individuals, and even then are open to bias. Lack of visibility means leaves you unable to assess the efficiency of staff, as well as tracking the progress of an order, resulting in an inability to communicate with the customer regarding their order status.
If you need more assistance on getting your processes up to date without causing an upheaval in your business, download the change management checklist:
In addition to this, the challenges that poor labour management brings can create a sinkhole for your profitability.
If you have too many pickers working at the same time, you will likely be spending more money on labour than you are getting back in return. Overtime creeps in, and sometimes deadlines for fulfilment are missed.
The effect of poor picking processes can be felt throughout your business, and in order to keep your workforce productive, customers satisfied, and finance departments calm, you need to tackle these issues head-on.
To efficiently reduce pickers means introducing automation into warehousing. Automation is complementary to existing staff, improving their efficiency and meaning less of them are required to fulfil the same demand
Additionally, with automated processes, you'll be well set up to take the panic out of peak periods. With a WMS that's easy-to-use and easy-to-train, you can get temporary staff working on the warehouse floor within minutes.
To improve flexibility and reduce your space demands, introduce a WMS that allows for dynamic locations - this means warehouses can put multiple stock-keeping units (SKUs) in one location, as well as putting single SKUs in multiple locations. By doing this, there is better space utilisation in the warehouse, saving money and delaying the need for a larger site.
The table below gives you an overview of the problems you may encounter in your picking process, the solutions available, and how to use your best-in-class warehouse management system to tackle the common issues.
Start your WMS implementation process the right way by assessing the cost vs. benefit in full. Download the ROI calculation guide here: