Supply chains across the country and around the world rely on warehouses; they represent a crucial and vital link, so it’s important that managements keep their warehouse organizations operating in an environment that is as efficient and error-free as possible. One of the most effective ways that common challenges and inefficiencies of warehouse management can be remedied is through automation. With the economies of the world being larger than ever and moving faster than any other time in history, automation really is required today. So what are five of the most common inefficiencies of warehouses today?
- Inventory Accuracy: Knowing exactly how much product is in a warehouse, as well as an accurate estimate of how much inventory will be needed in the near future, can easily make or break a company. When management doesn’t know how much inventory is in stock, there will either be an excess of products or a lack of products, and both scenarios can be devastating to an organization. Excess inventory decreases cash flow and increases the cost to house extra products; a shortage of inventory leads to unfulfilled orders and customers that are not happy. Automated software programs can alleviate these issues at both ends of the product supply spectrum.
- Inefficient Warehouse Layout: Not only can a lack of automation contribute to poor inventory accuracy, but it can also lead to space issues and storage problems. It’s not so much about how much space you have, but how managers are able to optimize that space. Space and storage optimization avoids unnecessary labor – especially when fast-moving inventory is kept near the front of the warehouse.
- Location of Inventory: As briefly stated just before, it’s a mistake to just stack inventory any old way in a warehouse. A buildup of inventory that doesn’t move often, sitting in the front of shelf space, blocking inventory that does move often, creates time and labor issues that can cost warehouses big bucks. Pickers take longer to find items, slowing the loading process and creating backups from scheduling to labor allocation.
- Redundancy Across the Board: Without automation to help, redundant processes can run rampant. Barcode technology is able to get rid of the problems surrounding pick tickets and documentations having to pass through multiple hands. Whether those hands include pickers, loaders, stagers, or anyone else, it all boils down to (once again) automation and efficiency.
- Inefficient Picking: There are still some warehouses that rely on manual processes, even with the need for automation. For these warehouses, there is often no common plan of action for picking items for shipment. This adds unnecessary time and labor to the entire process. Automation can provide system-directed picking, reducing time needed per pick as well as wear and tear on equipment (and warehouse workers).
When it comes to improving logistics, inventory accuracy, picking, and improving efficiency, automation is by far the most effective solution. Warehouse managers can make great strides in improving visibility and functionality, thanks to the automation capabilities of today.