How to benefit from a mobile first warehouse
Nowadays, with customer expectations increasingly high, warehouses cannot afford to be working without technology. Gone are the days when paper pick sheets were adequate.
Continuing supply chain disruption amidst an e-commerce boom means the warehouse needs to become a very finely tuned operation. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) include improved picking efficiency, achieving on time in full (OTIF) operations and adhering to error reduction targets. Monitoring and managing efficient warehouse operations is very challenging if your warehouse runs on paper so a first step towards seeing improvements needs to come from introducing a warehouse management system (WMS) integrated with mobile devices.
Here are three key benefits of investing in a WMS and mobile devices:
Greater management control
When warehouses are run using paper and spreadsheets, people working in the warehouse tend to develop their own ways of operating. They develop detailed knowledge of where to find stock and they often create workarounds to suit their working patterns. This often causes issues when key staff are away from the business on holiday or off sick. Almost certainly these manual ways of working will not be the most efficient and if someone leaves, they take all their knowledge with them. Today’s high throughput warehouses need to operate differently. Logistics processes need to be repeatable at scale and fine-tuned to maximise productivity and efficiency. There is no time for workarounds and one offs. By using a WMS, warehouse management can specify set processes and workflows, assigning set pick routes and operations to different members of the team. Importantly, management can access real time reports highlighting exactly how efficiently operations are running to ensure orders are being completed accurately and in full all the time.
Reduced scope for human error
Whether you are dealing with end users in a B2C environment or other businesses in B2B, receiving the wrong items after waiting for a delivery is highly irritating and can put a customer off making a repeat purchase. When technology is there to guide an operative through key processes, common errors are removed because the data is captured at source and built in checks at each stage flag up any problems quickly. Quality controls are part of the overall process which saves time and cost.
Real time data availability
A huge benefit of using a WMS with mobile devices is that it supports a fully real-time working environment in the warehouse. Each days’ sales order lists are generated automatically by the WMS and operatives are assigned their work in a way that ensures maximum productivity and efficiency. The WMS will monitor stock levels according to predefined criteria and can trigger stock replenishment actions automatically when levels reach minimum levels. It will also suggest suitable alternative items and their locations to avoid a missed sale due to an out of stock.
Nowadays, with customer expectations increasingly high, warehouses cannot afford to be working without technology. Gone are the days when paper pick sheets were adequate. Today’s customer – B2C and B2B wants the right goods at the right time for the right price and without significantly increasing headcount, that can only be achieved with a WMS.