The manual management of a warehouse is a logistical nightmare even for the most experienced warehouse managers, auditors, and inventory personnel. Even with the advent of spreadsheets and organizational tools, the conventional warehouse management process can be a real pain.
Keeping up with stock levels can be a challenging task. On top of that, you need to keep the costs of your operations at a manageable level, which also means keeping an eye on major expenses such as personnel, asset maintenance, transportation, freight services, and warehouse upkeep.
The good news is that from a technological standpoint, there are major improvements in the way supply chains are run. Supply chain is key to your warehouse operations and the entry of the warehouse management software has definitely made supply chain management easier for warehouse managers and business owners.
As a matter of fact, the use of warehouse management solutions is steadily increasing. A 2018 survey on warehouse management and distribution operations discovered that 93% of 138 logistics and warehouse operations professionals across various verticals said that they are currently using a warehouse management software. It is the first time that such question received over a 90% response.
From improving inventory accuracy to real-time tracking of stocks and orders, here are 7 ways technology has revolutionized warehouse management.
1. Transition to a Paperless Workplace
One of the obvious advantages of using a warehouse management system is that you are no longer limited to the trappings of clipboards and paper-based documents. You don’t have to print out stacks of checklists and report templates. A warehouse management system comes with a custom checklist/report builder that can generate templates for inventory, auditing, and reporting.
You can create custom templates for specific purposes and then make changes to the templates for reuse so you won’t have to start from scratch. By going digital, you save money on paper and printing costs.
Most warehouse management software solutions are optimized for mobile devices. All information is updated in real-time and automatically synchronized across all systems and platforms. This allows for smooth and seamless auditing and reconciliation.
Reporting is a breeze as well. Warehouse managers and inventory personnel can create reports directly from the system using their tablets. They submit the reports right on the spot instead of giving them at the end of the day.
2. Centralize All Your Warehouse Activities
The centralization of business intelligence data, tasks, and personnel in a single, unified platform ranks high among the many warehouse management system benefits. All your warehouse staff can easily access and view all the information they need from a single place.
Having a unified warehouse management solution enables everyone to easily view tasks and progress, collaborate with people, and practice best communication tips among teams. It cultivates a culture of empowerment and accountability in the workplace. They can check their priorities and tasks, monitor their stock levels, and facilitate orders without having to switch between multiple systems.
With everything in one place, the productivity and efficiency of your warehouse people are greatly improved. Tasks are easily prioritized and schedules are followed. Internal and external processes and workflows are optimized as well.
3. Determine The Best Floor Plans and Shelving Arrangement
It is critical for businesses that rely on warehouses to maximize their space and accelerate the flow of their items while keeping their operational costs low. A good warehouse management software enables businesses and organizations to identify the most effective ways to utilize their labor and space, resulting in less waste.
Many warehouse management systems come with warehouse floor and shelving simulators, allowing you to try and experiment with various floor and zoning plans to determine the best places to store your products, equipment, and other assets/materials.
With the best floor and zoning plans, you are able to optimize all workflows in the warehouse. Your people are able to operate at peak efficiency, saving your business time and money in the process.
4. Improve The Visibility of Your Inventory
Checking and tracking warehouse inventory used to be extremely challenging. One needs to pay close attention to all the details to ensure that everything is accounted for and nothing is missed. In a warehouse setting where accuracy and speed are paramount, such tasks can be very difficult.
But that was then. The entry of warehouse management software has eliminated the majority of the pains that stem from operating a warehouse. The subsequent improvements that came over the years, such as barcodes and IoT (Internet of Things), have definitely made things easier for the warehouse staff.
A 2016 study on IoT and Big Data conducted by the Transparency Market Research found that implementation of IoT and Big Data is becoming more and more widespread in supply chain management and logistics.
A quick look at your tablet and you’ll quickly know the real-time status of your inventory. From the actual number of your items on hand to products that are slated for shipping, no developments and updates skip your attention. While warehouse operations and management still have its challenges, the visibility of your inventory is certainly not a problem.
5. Eliminate Theft
Warehouse theft used to be a common problem that plagues warehouses all over the world. But the introduction of warehouse management systems has greatly reduced the instances of theft down to a significant level.
The increased visibility of inventory, coupled with item tracking capabilities, has drastically enhanced accountability. Bar codes, tracker labels and proximity scanners make it difficult for thieves to sneak out items past security checkpoints and out of the warehouse.
On top of that, employees are required to log in into the system via individual accounts. This functionality makes it easy for managers to create an audit trail and link specific transactions and items to specific employees.
6. Optimize Inbound and Outbound Warehouse Traffic
Managing a warehouse not only involves inventory monitoring and floor planning. It also entails the handling of the traffic that comes in and out of your warehouse.
A good warehouse management platform should help you manage both incoming and outgoing cargo and transportation. Your warehouse is the heart of your supply chain and it is crucial to keep your inventory flowing. This ensures you’re shipping out on a regular basis to ensure space for incoming stocks.
Poor shipping procedures, subpar coordination with shipping and freight services providers, and deviation from best practices can quickly bog your inventory flow. This can result in misplaced items, wrong products shipped, and products getting delivered to the wrong address. Mismanagement of warehouse traffic definitely affects your performance and ruins your business.
Fortunately, warehouse management systems address these concerns by providing you with transport management capabilities and seamless integrations with popular and reliable shippers and freight services. Controlling the flow of your inventory is a challenging task made less difficult with the right warehouse management solution.
7. Enhance Billing Efficiency
Errors in billing can result in serious financial losses. A miscalculation can mean a huge profit or savings slipping from your hands. With a warehouse management software, you can create bills based on time, activity, and other parameters. This lets you generate more accurate fees, saving the business money that you can use on other pressing matters.
Better, Stronger Relationships with Customers and Suppliers
The advantages of warehouse management systems are not only limited to your internal and external processes and workflows. They go further beyond the organization itself. You are in total control of your supply and demand chains. That means you are able to accelerate your inventory flow and keep up with the demands of your customers while ensuring your suppliers keep up with your need.
You are able to optimize both your supply and demand chains. But on top of that, you are in total control over your relationships with your customers and suppliers.
Your customers enjoy how fast and efficient your order fulfillment is. They don’t have to suffer from lengthy delivery lead times and order inaccuracies. Your suppliers appreciate how they don’t waste time and resources at the docks and loading bays, resulting in increased efficiency at their end.
These relationships are crucial to the success of your business. Managing both sides of the spectrum and finding a happy medium can be quite taxing but a good warehouse management software does most of the heavy lifting for you.
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