Author: Paul Henriques in: Inventory and Warehouse
Lately, supply chains have been bottled up with cargo moving at a snails pace through the world’s shipping centers. This added strain to business has led most manufacturers to smarten up their Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to help keep production on schedule and ensure that orders are sent out on time.
But improving warehouse management is far from just ordering more of everything when you can or purchasing your vendor’s shelves clean once they finally have something in stock. Making your business ready for the unexpected peaks and valleys of your supply chain means knowing what you have and what you need based on projected demand. Recent research done by PwC has found that those firms with better warehouse management are better equipped to weather any supply chain disruptions.
You know that with LEAN, keeping your inventory reasonable is part of DOWNTIME. This ensures lower costs and higher efficiency and is a key component of your operations. However, changes to your vendor supply times may mean that you have to revise how much inventory you keep or how you process your orders.
OnRamp has helped it’s customers improve warehouse performance by implementing the following:
Review your vendor reports regularly to see who is having issues meeting your target times. If you have vendors that are constantly late with their shipments, update the lead times and order quantity for those parts to ensure that when you need them, they are readily available. This also works for items that are made or received quicker.
Review your picking, packing, and shipping processes every few months and apply PDCA to improve on any processes. By looking at the process every 60 to 90 days you can ensure that the process is running as designed and improve upon it where possible.
When faced with supply chain uncertainties, instead of measuring your warehouse team KPI’s in inventory turns or accuracy, setup more achievable targets related to customer deliveries. Also, use reports, dashboards, and other methods, to prioritize orders as required to help meet shipping goals.
Switch to scanners and barcodes or RFID, if your ERP system supports it, to get a better immediate view of what’s in stock and when it arrives or leaves. Scanning bar codes and using a clone tag shipping process greatly decreases errors on the shop floor.
Communicate with your customers and vendors via EDI to ensure orders are received and updated within your EDI-ready ERP system. EDI can help you reduce out-of-stocks and backorders.
While lates may have started to pile up, this doesn’t have to be the new normal. Clever management and proactively changing processes that you already have on the ground floor can help. While monitoring demand changes in what you sell is also required, improving your warehouse management processes can help stop-gap any future supply chain disruptions.
Better warehouse and inventory management will help:
Implementing an ERP system with a built-in WMS has proven to help ease supply chain woes by helping you better manage your inventory and your orders, giving you real-time control that leads to better decisions and better returns.