The second level, of the pyramid that we discussed before, lets you go beyond current process automation, allowing you to evaluate your current warehouse processes and make improvements. This strategy assumes that you wish to maintain your current physical infrastructure, but are willing to modify warehouse processes to optimize productivity.
The benefits of business process re‐engineering include improved picking effectiveness, receiving accuracy and efficiency, pick-bin replenishment effectiveness and shipping accuracy
Improve picking effectiveness
Implementing an effective picking/packing strategy can dramatically increase the number of lines picked per day. A unit pick warehouse can see picking productivity improvements by as much as 700%.
Reduce picker travel ‐ A significant amount of a picker’s day is spent traveling to and from pick locations to gather products on each order. Because paper‐based processes are limited in how workloads can be distributed to the picking team, WMS implementation provides a valuable opportunity to reduce the amount of travel required per order line picked.
Improve workload management ‐ Optimally, workloads should be gathered by pickers, who start the pick path with an empty cart or pallet, and return full. The most successful workload is one that travels the shortest distance to fill the cart. In most paper‐based warehouses, pickers gather limited quantities, one order at a time. Picking multiple orders at a time and re‐balancing the existing warehouse into ABC ranked zones should help the average pick and pack warehouse fill up carts while reducing the mileage per workload.
Improved picking speed ‐ Because every warehouse is different, each distribution centre needs to find suitable picking/packing strategies. Batch, wave, simultaneous/sequential zone, pick and pass, and product picking are examples of different types of picking styles that can be employed by a WMS to increase workload effectiveness. In any given environment, it may be necessary to implement a variety of picking methods to correspond to different order compositions, product sizes and warehouse layouts.
Eliminate the order checking function ‐ Most warehouses that use warehouse management software to re‐engineer the picking process can eliminate the checking function altogether. The result is a significant labor cost savings and faster order fulfillment. Many warehouses experience enormous capacity increases with their current staff.
Improve receiving accuracy and efficiency
Accurate, efficient receiving is the right way to begin the warehousing process. The right product, received accurately is then available to promise or to ship against backorders. An efficient receiving process means that product is checked‐in faster which results in shorter vendor lead times and lower inventory requirements.
Receiving incorrect products or quantities turn into inventory errors down the line; pickers grab the wrong product, customer service promises what they don’t have and additional inventory needs to get ordered to compensate for the mistake.
Electronically receive against open purchase orders – Lots of time is spent reconciling actual receipts against paper purchase orders. Using a handheld computer, a warehouse solution can effectively receive any product in any sequence against any purchase order and be capable of reconciling electronically.
Receive product against purchase orders in any sequence – Much time is spent matching product against purchase order lines. Using a mobile device, receiving efficiency can be dramatically improved by automatically matching in the background.
Receive multiple purchase orders simultaneously – Multiple orders are frequently received simultaneously. A trailer pulls up or a UPS shipment arrives. In a paper based environment, receipts must be segregated and reconciled against their individual purchase orders. An effective solution increases receiving efficiency by allowing a receiver to receive multiple purchase orders simultaneously.
From dock to stock faster – When receiving multiple purchase orders, the amount of inventory to be received can be overwhelming. An effective solution will allow multiple receivers to receive multiple orders simultaneously so that product can be moved into stock quickly. The net result is faster availability for sales orders and reduced vendor lead times.
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