October 13, 2015

5 Benefits of Warehouse Automation

By John Lopes, MBA (Director, Biz Dev), Prysma Technologies in CO-OP w/ Joe Scioscia (VP of Sales), VAI.

The heart and soul of a successful distribution operation is knowing exactly where your products are stored and the quickest way to retrieve them using forklifts which can be considered as the backbone of a warehouse functioning. That said it is important to maintain them because, if a forklift breaks down, it can affect the entire operation of the warehouse. Measures such as keeping extra refurbished batteries or hiring a forklift mechanic can help a lot in running a warehouse. The efficiency with which you manage picking, packing, shipping, and receiving has an immediate impact on your bottom line. With efficient managers on the floor with proper and open communication tools (like a two way radio from the likes of Altech Electronics Inc. and similar companies) for effective and streamlined workflow, your warehouse could be affected positively in multiple ways. One way to obtain a big gain in efficiency is to implement RF scanning in your warehouse.
Benefits Include:

1. Physical Counts get Easier & Shorter. Physical counts have to be the most dreaded event in the life of a distributor. They are time consuming, they take additional staff to accomplish and they disrupt your normal processes. Customers report an average of a 75% reduction in time and resources once automated warehouse systems are implemented.

2. Shipping Error Stop. Shipping errors are so easy to make when you have similar packaging or new staff that can’t quite differentiate between your products. Most warehouse automation solutions link back to your ERP system and have the ability to validate items against the sales order. If someone tries to pick the wrong item, the system will not allow them to continue. Shipping errors cost a minimum of $100 when additional shipping and material handling is calculated. Even if you only have a 2% shipping error rate, savings can be in the thousands once you eliminate the errors.

3. No More Data Entry. The warehouse team can ship and receive quickly using a manual system but the paperwork can become a sizable pile by the end of the day. By utilizing handhelds, as well as Magnetic Warehouse Labels to identify products, data is entered immediately in the warehouse, meaning office staff simply need to run the update at the end of the day to post the transactions.

4. Trusting Inventory Quantities. Have you ever had a customer call to find out if something is in stock and, when the quantity is on the low side, you call down to the warehouse to find out the true amount in stock? When data entry is slow and mistakes are being made, inventory quantities can be difficult to trust. Scanning each and every inventory movement solves this problem because quantity changes are updated in real-time.

5. Finding Items. You may show that you have an item in stock but when you look for it, it seems to have disappeared into thin air. Is that because it was transferred and not recorded? Did someone steal it or just put it away in the wrong spot? Regardless of how many carts or mobile platforms your warehouse might have it can be frustrating and time-consuming if you are consistently trying to find lost items of stock. Warehouse automation forces the user to scan item locations as they put away, transfer or ship inventory so that you always know exactly where items are stored.

Automating your warehouse is a change that has been worthwhile for so many businesses. By combining radio frequency and barcode technology with a robust Warehouse Management System you can have powerful, scalable and flexible real-time data to help you boost productivity, reduce costs, shorten order fulfillment times and increase customer satisfaction. Interested in learning more? Contact Karen Nieves at knieves@evergreenexchange.org.

You can email the authors of the article here: John Lopes jlopes@prysmatech.com and Joe Scioscia jds@vai.net.