NEWS AND VIEWS ON THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
In today’s competitive landscape, a lot is riding on improving warehouse pick and pack processes. Beyond working towards a perfect order rate KPI, warehouses must accomplish faster fulfillment, sometimes as quick as the same day. Furthermore, warehouses are under pressure to control costs, and up to 45 percent of total operating costs are attributed to picking and packing.
Improving these processes is one of a warehouse’s most impactful steps to advance toward its speed, efficiency, and customer satisfaction goals. Review this list of 10 ways to improve pick and pack processes and consider solutions you can provide to support them.Choose the Best Picking Strategy
There are various ways to engineer warehouse operations for more efficient picking and packing. For example, batch picking, i.e., picking several items instead of one SKU at a time, is an excellent way to reduce travel time. The products the warehouse ships, the size of the orders, and available space will help define the best methodology for the operation.Optimize Storage Locations
The placement of products in the warehouse can help decrease turnaround time (TAT) and increase productivity. Determining optimal storage locations, however, requires time and expertise, and warehouses’ dynamic nature requires repeating that task. Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions can streamline this process and continually optimize storage locations.Design Strategic Picking Routes
Wasted steps in the warehouse cost operators more than time. They also increase the demand for labor and labor costs. Warehouses will benefit from analyzing the routes pickers use to navigate from zone to zone and adjust routes seasonally or with other changes.Automate Tasks
Warehouses will benefit from evaluating multistage order fulfillment workflows and taking opportunities to automate as many processes as possible. Additionally, operations can leverage technology to collect data, remove redundancies, reduce the risk of error, and provide real-time inventory and fulfillment tracking visibility.Use Mobile Devices
Mobile barcode and RFID scanners allow teams to capture product information quickly and accurately and implement pick-to-light or voice picking systems that further expedite the picking process to ensure the correct items are shipped.Ensure Accurate and Up-to-Date Inventory
Ideally, mobile scanners will interface with the inventory management system to ensure real-time availability data for the warehouse and streamline processes. Stopping to enter data manually will slow down pickers and introduce an opportunity for errors.Choose Effective Packing Materials
Depending on the products, the best option for shipping may be boxes, cartons, or envelopes. Items may also need to be wrapped to prevent damage. Systems that communicate the best packing materials can ensure consistent packaging that protects products in transport.Make Quality Assurance Part of the Process
Confirming an order contains the right products and is packed and labeled correctly is critical to operations. Errors lead to dissatisfied customers and create returns, rework, delays, and increased costs. Therefore, warehouses will benefit from solutions that automate QA (Quality Assurance) / QC (Quality Control) processes, such as machine vision systems that flag errors.
Investing in employee training is one of the best – yet overlooked – methods for improving pick and pack processes. Well-trained employees make fewer errors and are more productive. While the concept of picking and packing isn’t difficult to grasp, the execution of it requires training so employees can reach maximum productivity.
Review and Iterate
Warehouses need to evaluate pick and pack processes frequently and adapt as necessary. By quantifying performance and considering how it can be improved, it’s possible to approach optimal productivity and profitability. In addition, operations can benefit from analytics solutions that automatically collect data and track performance.
The multistage process of order fulfillment is like a line of dominos. The first step in the sequence triggers a chain reaction that will make or break the result. At the end of the line is a customer who cares little about how many steps are in the process – they just demand that they’re well executed.
Implementing best practices throughout each phase of pick and pack processes will ensure happy customers and the efficiency, cost savings, and productivity necessary to compete.