Improving Warehouse Productivity

Improving Warehouse Productivity Part 1: Achieving Scalability to 1 M+ Order Throughput With Data & Technology

The e-commerce revolution, omnichannel, personalized services and products, SKU proliferation, the Amazon Effect, and many other factors influence throughput in your warehouse. Throughput inefficiencies lead to decreased customer service and reduced profitability. Thus, the best way to avoid these risks and grow your company lies within increased throughput. This two-part series will explore the use of data and automated systems to achieve 1 million+ orders filled per day, as well as how strategic management styles drive scalability. To start, supply chain leaders should follow these best practices to attain 1 million+ orders filled, by improving warehouse productivity and throughput through the use of technology and data.

1. Utilize a WMS

Implementing a modern WMS that combines the features of or integrates
directly with a WES and WCS is a critical step in improving warehouse productivity.

2. Track the Right Data

Today’s warehouses generate a mountain of data per second, and this data can lead to misinformed decisions and poor outcomes. Supply chain leaders need to track the right data that impact productivity, such as lines filled per order and product cycle times.

3. Leverage Big Data Analytics to Understand Activities

Warehouses should also leverage big data analytics to understand activities. Big data analytics makes sense of the data, giving warehouse managers and supply chain leaders a means to review operations at a glance and drill-down when necessary.

4. Integrate Systems to Share Data

Integration between systems and the sharing of data eliminates data inconsistencies, as well as gives leaders access to the information necessary to make informed decisions regarding how to best improve throughput per unit of time.

5. Scale Operations Based on Demand and Data, Not Assumption

The biggest mistake companies make when scaling warehouse order throughput is deciding based on assumption. In today’s world, every decision made by a supply chain leader should be based on data and demand, not someone’s “guesstimate.”

6. Use 2D Barcodes to Increase Data Within Labels and Increase Data Accuracy When Scanning Items.

The use of 2D barcodes, or QR codes, can store more information, be read from multiple angles, and reduce delays caused by traditional barcodes.

7. Increase Visibility With New Technologies

New technologies can be used throughout the warehouse to increase visibility. Although these technologies generally are used to increase visibility, their application can also increase accountability and efficiency. For example, blockchain technology offers the promise of incorruptible data storage and retrieval.

8. Deploy Automated Systems

Automated systems, including automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), optimize warehouse operations and eliminate many of the costs of moving product manually.

9. Use Robotic Arms and Routing Systems to Reduce Warehouse Travel Costs

Robotic arms and routing systems can effectively reduce warehouse traveling costs. These costs are the result of unplanned, inefficient routes within the warehouse itself, leading to delays in order fulfillment.

10. Use Exception Automation in Systems of Record and Management

There will always be instances where an exception to a pre-defined process within supply chain systems will occur. However, modern systems can leverage exception automation to eliminate the need for human intervention utilizing algorithms and advanced functions.

11. Collaborate with Supply Chain Partners

Collaboration within the supply chain, including peers and partners using similar systems, will lead to improvements in your warehouse and better throughput.

12. Stay Informed of Changes and Updates

The systems and technologies in use for warehouse management and operations are continually evolving. Supply chain leaders should stay informed of new technologies and systems that are available, including off-the-shelf solutions.

13. Think of Initial and Perpetual Costs During Implementation of New Systems

Implementing a new system or process does not necessarily cost exactly what initial implementation claims. Modifications to the system and other factors, including integrations, will add to the initial and perpetual costs.

Better Throughput Is Key to Improving Warehouse Productivity

Improving warehouse productivity is about much more than merely deciding to increase volume. It goes back to having the right technologies and data-driven processes in place to empower your team and company to fill more orders, spend less time correcting mistakes, and eliminate risks. Supply chain leaders should follow the tips mentioned above to continuously improve and prepare for faster scalability and ensure they make the right decisions. If your organization is ready to finally take the steps for strengthening warehouse productivity, visit Veridian online today.