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Posts Tagged ‘Warehouse Management’

We’ll end 2017 with the conclusion of our two-part post about improving your warehouse through better data.  As we pointed out in our prior post, having a decent Warehouse Management System within your ERP system is not enough – it needs to run with accurate data.  The answer: barcoding.

In our prior post we reprised comments from Insight Works’ Brian Neufeld regarding how barcode scanning is the best choice for warehouse goods tracking.  As Brian notes:

  • Barcode scanning efficiency results in more frequent inventory and cycle counts, and faster cycle counts can improve data accuracy which also improves productivity and fill rates.
  • Order fulfillment is more accurate, ultimately improving shipping times and customer satisfaction.
  • Warehouse managers see a reduction in necessary labor time, so barcode systems can pay for themselves after the first annual count.

How?  Well, in a manual environment, ONLY with great effort.  Inventory counts performed outside regular hours and requiring overtime are often required to collect, record, check and input the data.  It can take days, as we’ve seen with some companies.  And the counts are still subject to many errors.

With barcoding, employees utilize handheld scanners to scan bin numbers, and 2D labels on products and bins make unit counts quick and easy.  Counts can be entered into the scanners when required, and each employee is a unique (and accountable) scanner/counter.  Scanning can cut inventory count times by up to 90%.

As always, it comes down to cost, but here, the news is mostly good.  Most barcode solutions, once successfully implemented (and yes, there is time and a learning curve and some integration to be considered) can yield a payback with a relatively quick ROI — especially when you’re saving up to 90% of the time-value of those costly and tedious inventory counts.

A consultant can help you determine answers to issues like selecting the right barcode method, the right devices (fixed or mobile), and the right formats, labels and media.  The cost recapture on the savings from reduced data entry errors, reduced picking errors, and especially from reduced inventory, can add up much faster than most people realize.  The combination of savings in a typical warehouse can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in savings in very short order.  We’ve seen it often.

In the end, it’s not a question of “if” you should do barcode, but “when.”  You have to crawl before you walk before you run, as we often like to say.  It’s not usually the first warehouse project we tackle, but when your WMS and ERP and inventory systems are ready, it can be one of the fastest and biggest payouts you’ll find inside your company.

Sounds like a great way to start the New Year, doesn’t it?

And on that note… Our best wishes to you and yours for a very Happy New Year as well!

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For the year’s final two posts we take a look at an issue that’s troubling to many of our clients and would-be clients: effective warehouse management.  Starting a new year seems to be the perfect time to address this nemesis of many a distribution and manufacturing operation.  Many companies use the pre-New Year’s week as a week to wind down and to attend to inventory and warehouse matters… so here goes.

Managing a warehouse accurately can be a multi-faceted and almost overwhelming responsibility, made worse by the fact that most warehouse operations are in a constant state of flux.  That’s true even in smaller warehouse operations.  So in this post and our next one we’ll take a look at some issues and advice on how warehouse managers can ‘get a grip’ on their operations, and how today’s tools can make the job more manageable.

The better ERP systems (though not nearly all) can act as a repository for warehouse data.  But just because you have an integrated ERP system that holds that warehouse data doesn’t mean you have complete control over the operation.  You simply have a tool – one that can highlight existing inefficiencies, inaccuracies, bad counts, inventory overstocks and shortages, and a host of other issues.

Warehouse managers face tough challenges that include having capital tied up in too much excess inventory, bad records that too often lead to costly ‘expedited’ purchases, lower than anticipated margins, late shipments and lower customer satisfaction and/or on-time deliveries.

The common problem in all cases is inaccurate data.  After all, if it weren’t, you’d have the right inventory, and you’d have what you thought you had (or the reports told you that you had) in your bins and shelves.  You’d deliver on-time more often, more accurately.

Often, even with a WMS (Warehouse Management System) in place, warehouses can become beholden to too many slips of paper – handwritten receipt notifications that never quite make it “into the system,” or hand-marked (and re-marked) physical inventory counts, picking tickets and special notes to pickers.

At some point, it all becomes too time-consuming, frustrating and error-prone.  And that all comes at a cost.  WMS is not enough – you also have to have accurate data to work from.

And that’s where barcode scanning comes into play.

As Brian Neufeld of Insight Works points out (in a post on MSDynamicsWorld):

“In terms of cost and universal acceptance, barcode scanning is the best choice for warehouse goods tracking. Put simply, these software systems allow transactions in a warehouse to be processed much faster and with considerably less errors, with such transactions encompassing everything from inventory counts to put-aways, receipts, picks, shipments, and more.”

We agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Neufeld, and so in our next and concluding post, we’ll take a look at how to put a solution into action.  Stay tuned…

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Over the past year or two, we’ve published so much information from so many leading sources — coupled with our own insights and twenty-plus years’ experience — on the topic of manufacturing software and ERP.  During that time we’ve released over a dozen posts (or series of posts) on topics of interest to manufacturers who want to know how and why ERP improves profits, and how companies use it to do just that.  Additionally, we’ve posted quite a few more articles about a related topic: warehouse management.

Over the course of these articles, we’ve looked at top-flight analysis and research… explored examples… talked about costs and payback, as well as benefits and value… and tried to guide readers to insights about how automation improves business  productivity.

So, it only makes sense from time to time to aggregate those posts into a single convenient table.  We believe that inside the content of our articles, culled from various sources and points of view, lies a wealth of information that is of value to manufacturers and distributors looking to improve their competitve advantage.

That being said then, following are quick ‘shortlinks’ to topics we think you’ll find of interest, culled from previous posts geared at helping make your business better.  Simply click on any of the topics in the table below to open a browser window that will take you directly to that post.  At the top of each one, you’ll see links to the next (and previous) post in each series.  You’ll find a wealth of good information below…

Manufacturing Topics Include…

The Continuing Evolution of ERP (First of Two Parts)
A Good Cheat Sheet: Questions To Ask When Evaluating an ERP Solution
Service Oriented Architecture in ERP
Thinking About Upgrading Your Software?  Plan First!  (Part 1 of 2)
ERP: Sure It Works… But What’s the Catch? [Part 1 of 3]
Why ERP Systems Are Important
How Satisfied Are Companies With Their ERP Systems?
Using Business Process Reengineering to Become “ERP Friendly”
ERP Implementation: How Much and How Long? (1st of 2 Parts)
Five Critical Points for ERP Success
Manufacturing Takes the Lead (Part 1 of 5)
InsideERP’s Mid-Market Buyer’s Guide – Part 1 of 5
On Manufacturing – Drum-Buffer-Rope: Part 1 in a Series of 7
Manufacturing Constraints: When Scheduling and Capacity Don’t Meet
Software That Matters: Part 1 of an 11 Part Series (Re-edited later and made into a PSSI White Paper)

 Warehouse Management (and WMS) Topics Include… 

Why WMS? [Part I of IV]
Getting Started with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) [Part I of IV]
Getting Specific About Warehouse Management Savings (Part 1 of 3)
THIS is Why Businesses Need Warehouse Management (Part 1 of 6)



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