How Receiving Affects the Supply Chain

This is a multipart series looking at distribution from a supply chain perspective. This month we’ll address receiving.

It is all too easy to view your distribution operation as a closed system that simply has to deal with the materials that are brought into the distribution center and ship them in the most efficient manner possible. This series investigates what might happen if you think outside of the warehouse box and consider how changes made outside your distribution center may end up benefiting your operation and saving you money. Here are three tips to improve receiving.

1.) Implement a vendor scorecard
Use a “scorecard” to keep track of how your vendors are doing. Vendors will include both freight carriers and the companies who have sent the products. Develop a simple, objective rating mechanism that your receiving personnel can use. You can assign grades for: right quantity, proper labeling (both pallet and cases), received undamaged, no defects in merchandise, and received within the specified delivery window. Flag vendors who fall below a minimum grade you’ve defined as acceptable or who have a significant failure. The scorecard can provide an objective means for communicating needs for improvement to your vendors.

2.) Simplify receiving and inventory management with better labeling
Developing standardized labeling for pallets and cases can help your receiving operation. Try to get your vendors to provide standardized labelling can include both human readable information and bar coded information, such as a bar coded PO number.

Labeling and bar codes on the outside of boxes can also help with cycle counting and inventory management, long after you have completed the receipt of this product.

3.) Schedule receipts rationally
Do you currently schedule all your receipts? If not, would scheduling appointments help to smooth activity out on the dock? Consider setting up a master receiving schedule so that all purchases have a desired “receipt window.” Also, consider your peak shipping periods when scheduling receipts.

Sam Flanders is president of Warehouse Management Consultants, a Durham, NH-based operations consultancy

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