With the pandemic-era supply chain crunch, many new third-party logistics (3PL) firms compete to adapt warehouse processes using digital technology quickly. Business owners now have a clear choice to either develop their digital warehouse operation or outsource to a company specializing in modern logistics. The key to upgrading your logistics is to invest in quality warehouse talent and a digital warehouse management system (WMS).
Assess Your Supply Chain
Before investing in a new WMS to quickly adapt warehouse processes, the first step is to assess your current supplier and warehouse performance. From picking productivity to meeting customer satisfaction, you must analyze the entire ecosystem. Ask yourself if the result benefits customers and the company's bottom line.
When it's unclear that the operation is efficient, you must look to digital solutions to reduce downtime and waste in favor of automation and greater output. Part of adopting digital transformation involves preparing for the unexpected. With the right WMS platform, you'll have powerful tools to organize and track your inventory in real-time.
An effective way to assess your warehouse is to conduct a full infrastructure audit. If your system is already populated with IoT devices, then you've already got a wealth of data at your fingertips. The more IoT sensors you integrate into your system, the more agile your company will streamline solutions.
Optimize Receiving And Put-Away Processes
Warehouse optimization begins with improving the receiving process, which links to the shipping process. One minor mistake in documenting inventory received by warehouses may create a costly domino effect in the shipping phase. However, proper use of the right WMS improves accuracy and overall efficiency in tracking each shipped item.
Your WMS and trained warehouse talent will help you avoid accumulating surpluses at receiving docks. The use of power pallet trucks and conveyors can help you move and clear cargo faster. Your warehouse management software will guide your team to accurately measure cargo weight and dimensions and schedule labor as efficiently as possible.
The software can further optimize your put-away process to minimize travel time and maximize warehouse space. Cargo will then be easier to track and transport, as the safety of crew members and products will also be upgraded. Remember that space efficiency significantly contributes to labor efficiency.
Rethink Your Suppliers
It's always been crucial for manufacturers and retailers to periodically review their list of suppliers and make adjustments when necessary. But only since the pandemic began has there been continuous uncertainty about the future availability and costs of supplies. That's why businesses of all types must rethink their suppliers and create backup lists.
A company must work with digitized suppliers that can report data in real-time. This partnership speeds up solutions to bottlenecks and supply chain shocks. Adding machine learning technology accelerates warehouse processes, even more, making it easier to scan suppliers and locate materials quickly.
Outsource To A 3PL
An emerging supply chain solution for many manufacturers is outsourcing to a 3PL. If you go this route, make sure you do sufficient research to weed out unreliable providers that are either inexperienced, disconnected, or over-rated. The key to finding the right 3PL provider comes down to analyzing which ones have developed an efficient picking process and various other warehouse processes. Your 3PL should be equipped with barcode scanners and modern technology such as automated machines.
Nurture Employee Development
The best way to improve the packing process is to optimize your warehouse beyond investing in a WMS by facilitating appropriate employee training. While technology makes a big difference, it means little if you don't train employees to use it properly. You must further inspire your team to care about their work to make proactive contributions to the business.
You should further be mindful of the current divide between employers and employees, contributing to mass career changes and supply chain bottlenecks. Millions of Americans have quit their jobs during the pandemic to explore new friendlier opportunities. So these days, employee retention is more critical than ever before.
A warehouse will be much more productive if employees are treated with respect and acknowledged for their contributions to the team. You must also offer experienced talent competitive pay and benefits to keep them from drifting toward competitive job opportunities. Maintaining a growing knowledge base team is more cost-efficient than constantly training new employees.
Part of the key to employee retention is paying attention to your workers’ health and mental well-being. Promote wellness in your warehouse with more breaks that allow workers to exercise, relax, or socialize. Avoid treating workers like robots no matter how much AI is shown to outperform humans.
Other Tips To Optimize Warehousing
- Develop omnichannel fulfillment centers to create inventory flexibility.
- Minimize surpluses by requiring carriers to schedule specific receiving times.
- Prioritize inventory based on the value of goods known as the ABC strategy.
- Schedule routine inspection and maintenance activities to reduce vulnerabilities.
- Create a more comfortable workplace with proper ventilation and a modern HVAC system.
- Reward employees who exhibit progress in picking and packing improvement.
Be Ready For Change
Never before in recent memory has supply chain activity become so uncertain and volatile. For this reason, your company must be prepared for disruptions and rapid changes in supply counts and consumer demand.
Be ready to embrace new backup plans as they arise and new technology designed to improve warehouse productivity and customer satisfaction. The key is to access as much real-time data about your industry as possible. You must also watch labor management to keep your churn rate down.
One of the essential catalysts for accelerated warehouse evolution this century has been the popularity of mobile devices and their migration to the workplace. The combination of smartphones or laptops and cloud services has resolved many warehouse issues involving busy operations. Not only has mobile communication made material handling safer and more practical, but it’s also led to better utilization of warehouse space.
Proper inventory management through a robust WMS is one of the keys to quickly adapting warehouse processes for improving short-term or long-term conditions. Not only can an experienced staff and elaborate WMS help you identify better methods for picking and packing, but it can also lift your team spirit with greater agility, efficiency, and loyalty. Finally, pay attention to custom pallet manufacturers as another helpful solution for enhancing your warehouse operation.