By following best practices, warehouses can optimise operations, reduce costs, improve inventory accuracy, streamline order fulfilment, enhance customer service, and create a safe working environment.
What is Warehouse Management?
Warehouse management refers to the comprehensive process of overseeing the receipt, storage, movement, and shipment of materials within a warehouse and their delivery to customers or other destinations. It encompasses vital aspects such as inventory control, efficient order fulfilment, and effective material handling.
A robust warehouse management system is essential to ensure goods move in and out of the warehouse efficiently, improving overall supply chain performance. It also entails accurate tracking and management of stored goods, ensuring their safety and secure handling within the warehouse.
Additionally, warehouse management involves accurate inventory tracking, controlling inventory costs, and ensuring the utmost accuracy of inventory records. Maintaining accurate inventory helps improve stock-holding, optimise costs, and provide your customers with higher service levels.
Best Warehouse Management Practices to Follow:
1. Inventory Tracking
Inventory replenishment prevents stock-outs, unavailable items, short picks, or missing items. Replenish inventory with safety stock to avoid stock-outs. Accurate demand forecasting is crucial for fast-moving items during peak seasons like Black Friday and Christmas. Implementing tracking systems with barcode scanning, RFID tags, or inventory management software enables real-time stock levels and location visibility. Optimising inventory streamlines order fulfilment reduces costs and improves operational efficiency, ensuring smooth supply chain operations.
2. Ongoing Cycle Counting
Cycle counting is an inventory auditing practice in which a small portion of the inventory is regularly counted instead of the entire stock. It aims to improve inventory accuracy and promptly identify discrepancies.
Daily, weekly, or monthly cycle counts can cut the time and resources needed for physical counts and reduce inventory differences.
During a cycle count, the WMS chooses a group of items based on criteria configured in the application; in this way, the WMS will manage the counting of all items within a set period, eliminating the need for a disruptive wall-to-wall count.
3. Vendor Compliance
Vendor compliance is crucial for efficient and cost-effective warehouse management. It ensures vendors meet contract terms, have resources for supply chain management, and implement quality control, inventory tracking, and performance metrics. It also enforces safety protocols and proper training in the warehouse management system.
4. Cloud-Based Warehouse Management System
Cloud-based warehouse management systems are increasingly popular, offering lower start-up fees and less capital expenditure. In addition, cloud systems provide scalability not as readily available in on-premise solutions and allow the business to manage costs within the operational budget.
Most cloud-based WMS solutions offer the same capabilities as their in-premise versions in public or private-cloud setups. However, care should be taken when selecting a cloud application, as they are 100% reliant on your internet capabilities. If the connection to the software is interrupted or slows down, this will have an adverse effect as it will compromise your warehouse operations.
5. Dynamic Slotting
“Dynamic slotting” is a warehouse strategy that utilises advanced algorithms to optimise stock placement. This cutting-edge technology ensures inventory is stored in the most efficient locations, allowing faster and more streamlined workflows. Using dynamic slotting can cut labour costs and reduce processing time in a warehouse, resulting in greater efficiency and profitability.
Cross-docking is a logistics process that involves receiving goods, sorting them, and immediately shipping them to customers without storage. It requires coordination between suppliers, warehouses, and customers, reducing storage costs, improving delivery speed, and enhancing customer service. It’s ideal for perishable or time-sensitive products, accelerating delivery, cutting costs, and boosting service quality.
7. Advanced Shipping Notifications
Advanced Shipping Notification (ASN) is a warehouse management system feature whereby suppliers provide, in an agreed format, advanced notification of incoming shipments. The ASN includes details like arrival date, shipping method, weight, dimensions, quantities and attributes such as batch, expiry and serial numbers. ASNs help optimise labour scheduling, inventory management, and order fulfilment.
8. Maximising Information-Sharing Efficiency
Placing live dashboards in strategic areas of the warehouse help optimise warehouse operations and improve overall efficiency by showcasing critical operational data to all team members. Visual aids strategically placed in the warehouse can simplify inventory tracking, delivery monitoring, and order management, leading to improved decision-making and faster response to events.
Sharing real-time information motivates staff and recognises their achievements without undue pressure.
9. Performing Audit Process
The warehouse management audit process systematically examines procedures, processes, and operations for accuracy and efficiency. Implementing quality assurance processes and optimising performance are crucial to ensuring the success of any warehouse. By prioritising these aspects of operations, a company can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and increase customer satisfaction. Properly applied auditing results in significant cost savings and improved profitability over time. Here is a step-by-step guide:
- Establish Audit Objectives: Define scope, outcomes, and timetable.
- Gather Information: Collect relevant documents and data.
- Analyse Data: Identify issues and concerns.
- Document Findings: Record identified issues.
- Develop Corrective Action Plans: Create plans to address issues.
- Present Findings: Share audit findings with management.
- Implement Recommendations: Make recommended changes, train staff, and ensure proper implementation.
- Monitor Results: Periodically review and adjust as needed for continued efficiency and effectiveness. Take corrective action when necessary.
10. Health and Safety
Utilising your warehouse management system can enhance your health and safety protocols, significantly improving productivity and efficiency. By assessing the layout, accessibility, and inspection procedures of your warehouse, you can reduce accidents, incidents, and goods damage and guarantee the safety of your employees and your inventory.
Apex RTS is one of South Africa’s top warehouse management system providers. Our various warehouse management consulting services and warehouse management solutions help our clients improve their efficiency and productivity.