Warehouse operations are like a busy airport, where each plane is a product shipment or batch of inventory, and the air traffic control tower is the warehouse operations. Without air traffic control, planes would risk colliding, get delayed, or may not even be able to land or take off. Despite having the best pilots, without the technology of the control tower coordinating their movements, the airport would not be able to function efficiently—and perhaps not at all.
In the same way, shippers require technology to support efficient warehouse operations that ensure inventory is stored, managed, and dispatched optimally. Expert coordination improves warehouse management efficiency and maintains business flow, which helps ensure satisfied customers.
Efficiency is the difference between successful logistics and operational delays that increase costs and threaten business performance. Warehouse management should support streamlined operations, cost-effective solutions, and timely product deliveries to meet customer demands.
According to a 2018 survey by Logistics Management, despite 93% of respondents using a Warehouse Management System (WMS), almost half of them still relied on paper or spreadsheets to help them fulfill orders. The industry knows the importance of digital tools in managing warehouse operations, but there is still a gap between this and what many warehouses actually rely on day-to-day. Simply by going paperless, using scan guns and barcodes throughout the warehouse from receiving to put-away to picking, packing, and shipping, businesses gain a competitive edge—offering faster, more accurate, and more efficient services than many competitors in the survey.
How can businesses ensure they’re on the right side of the trendline, making the necessary decisions that allow them to stay competitive? The answer involves utilizing three strategies: the business’s WMS, technology integration, and implementation of paperless methods.
The WMS is the foundation of warehouse management and operations, as it enables precise inventory control, helps optimize storage space, and streamlines the movement of goods within the warehouse. Today's leading WMS solutions are cloud-based, ensuring real-time data, scalability, and robust security without the limitations of traditional on-premises systems. With automated or touchless order management, businesses can reduce manual interactions with the system, increasing efficiency and minimizing errors. Investing in an advanced WMS ensures companies can adapt quickly to fluctuating inventory levels, seasonal demands, and unexpected disruptions. They get insights for forecasting and analysis, identifying inefficiencies, and making informed decisions.
As digital supply chains where everything is interconnected become the standard, siloed operations are a source of inefficiency. The full power of technology is realized when different systems can communicate seamlessly. For warehouses, this means ensuring that the WMS can interface through API or EDI with procurement platforms, e-commerce sites, ERP and order management systems, business intelligence tools as well as robotics within the warehouse. The real-time data exchange provides immediate responsiveness; unified platforms reduce the risk of data errors and the business benefits from increased visibility across the supply chain. By employing smart shipping software—whether for transportation management or small parcel shipments—businesses can mitigate the effects of warehouse exceptions so that bottlenecks are addressed quickly and even prevented.
Having a paperless system means that every warehouse employee has a scan gun, each inventory unit has a barcode and all movements within the warehouse are recorded and assigned to individual users. This shift reduces the time spent on manual data entry, minimizes errors in receiving, putaway, picking and shipping, and speeds up these processes as well. Scan guns and barcodes support fast and efficient product movement throughout the warehouse, making it possible to receive instantaneous and accurate updates on inventory levels, product locations, and order statuses.
Shippers looking for the efficiency and optimization these strategies offer must consider the technology their third-party logistics provider uses.
Using the latest WMS technology and tools—including fully integrated, automated order management, robotics for sortation and inventory control, devices for paperless operations, plus a full suite of scalable EDI solutions—Productiv increases shippers’ efficiency in the warehouse. However, we also know that the need for efficiency extends into a broader approach to logistics, fulfillment, and staffing. That’s why Productiv delivers quick turnarounds and short lead times, lean-engineered processes, and client embed programs for getting a trained, reliable workforce on-site where they’re needed most, all contributing to greater efficiency and a competitive advantage for our customers.
To learn more, talk to an expert at Productiv today.
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