Online Inventory Management is one of the critical components that facilitate warehouse optimization. How? By providing an overarching mechanism that drives all processes and functions electronically. Acting as a vehicle of sorts for 3PL efficiency, web-based WMS software facilitates work flow and tracking of the actual tasks that any warehouse performs for its customers. That work, of course, includes a number of categories, tools and strategies, which we will discuss below.
1. Tools: As mentioned, the primary tool used to optimize warehouse efficiency is the warehouse management system (WMS) itself. It manages and incorporates all material handling, including bar coding, RF tracking and automated data collection as inventory moves in and out of a warehouse. Online inventory management has evolved to the point where it is by far the most time-effective and cost-effective tool a 3PL can use. It provides transparency to relevant users and is scalable to a warehouses needs.
There are, however, a host of other tools used in any warehouse operation that can streamline processes and facilitate greater efficiency. Ensuring your operation has ample equipment for staff to do their jobs is easy but requires periodic monitoring and replenishment. Simple tools like tape, calculators, pens and should be in ready supply. Larger tools and machinery also help a warehouse maintain optimal operations. We have provided a list below of the basics that need to be maintained in any warehouse operation:
Banding dispensers, cutters and crimpers
Stretch wrap dispensers
Razor knives and blades
2. Well-development identification system: picking, packing and putaways require accurate labeling and addressing of warehouse location. The online inventory management system (3PL Centrals web-based program is an excellent example) will data collect all inbound, storage and outbound product for multiple customers. Electronic data interchange, along with barcode scanning equipment and radio frequency (RF) tools will account for each item, pallet or bin that is delivered or shipped. Additional processes help ensure identification accuracy:
Clear and readable labels and license plates on pallets and cartons
Storage shelve and pallet rack address labels identifying location
Clearly painted areas and lanes in storage and dock areas.
3. Forms and paperwork: Even with the reduction in paper required when a warehouse operations is directed by an online inventory management system, there will be some essentials required. Often, forms are drawn from data collected from the software used. Still, it is important to ensure completeness, customization of forms when necessary, and to equally ensure that all compliance requirements are met. This is true for a variety of forms such as truck logs, inspection sheets, production reporting, cleaning schedules, load and transaction sheets and the like.
4. Training: so often overlooked in many kinds of businesses yet a well-trained staff, and one who is recurrently trained, performs at far greater efficiency within the warehouse when trained. It is always worth the time for labor to fully understand processes, rules, as well as be positively reinforced when work is performed at high standards. Effective and ongoing training boosts morale, increases quality and productivity results, and minimizes stress on managers when they know their staff understands what is expected of them.
These are just some of the key areas of optimization for any warehouse. And, as indicated, the online inventory management system that accounts for all operations will ensure solid productivity for your operation.
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