You don’t always have to spend a lot of money on a new piece of automaton or software to save significantly in your order selection operation. In fact, many costly systems rely on one or more of the very same process changes we’ll discuss here. By deploying one or more of these ideas, you can sometimes dramatically increase your labor efficiency (by 50% or more) and do it without any substantial risk or expense.
Conveyor-based zone picking can dramatically improve operational performance in certain situations. It works by separating an order into two or more distinct picking zones and having the conveyor control system determine what zones the order needs to visit. It is most often used with a shipping carton or tote, traveling on a conveyor system.
Manifesting software is becoming more sophisticated with each passing year. The software pinpoints the most cost-effective carrier for each package, based on criteria the cataloger has configured into the software. The criteria typically include the physical dimensions of the box the item will be shipped in, the weight of the package, the destination, and the approved carriers.
Receiving is an often-overlooked process in the distribution center. It is common for DC managers to focus on the picking and packing functions instead. Still, if receiving isn’t done efficiently and accurately, it can have a direct and dramatic impact on your order selection efficiency. Product that is sitting on the dock or on a pallet in a remote corner of the warehouse is not available for picking. The result could be shortages or the need for excess labor to fill the requirement.
The effect of growth on the distribution center can be negative. Growth can decrease your performance and increase your errors. Space problems can occur so gradually that you may not even be aware of them. The easiest answer to a space crunch is to get more, but this may not always be the wisest decision. There is often a tradeoff between space and labor and adding space can actually increase your labor costs. Fortunately, there are some strategies can improve both space and labor! Here are a few low cost solutions as well as some higher tech equipment and system based options.
Computer software, such as the warehouse management system (WMS), can be a godsend to your operation, dramatically improving performance over paper-based or manual systems. A WMS normally manages everything within the four walls of your warehouse, including material transactions, inbound, outbound, stock put-aways, replenishment, and transfers.