There are a few things top-performing SMB warehouses have in common, and one thing they all have in common.
That is, they optimize their operations and resources to get more from what they have, focusing on boosting their daily warehouse ROI.
To get the most from your growing warehouse, you need to improve accuracy, reduce mistakes and waste, save time, and identify ways to get more from your resources. This list outlines the top 5 things you can start doing today to improve ROI from your warehouse.
Warehouse ROI is based on working efficiently and having the right systems in place to capture and check data — and this starts with having the right systems in place.
No logistics company operates in a vacuum, and having a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) gives you the opportunity to connect with and streamline data sharing between you, your customers and your supply chain partners.
5 ways to increase your warehouse ROI
It’s essential to consider how information flows in and out of your warehouse, and who else you need to communicate with in your supply chain in order to streamline incoming and outgoing stock. This provides greater transparency across the supply chain for everyone involved.
Having a fully integrated cloud-based WMS and TMS gives you an enormous boost in terms of efficiently sharing data and optimizing workflows around order acceptance and dispatch. For instance, you can optimize your beyond the warehouse by using delivery addresses and routes to pick and pack orders based on delivery routes.
You can even delight customers and partners by streamlining incoming and outgoing orders through cross-docking. A WMS app equipped for cross-docking gives you oversight of incoming and outgoing orders by simply using barcode scanning to accept stock, sort, and allocate to a new delivery run — all from the palm of your hand, and directly from the dock.
Using a cloud-based WMS and mobile app to capture, record and track incoming orders, stock movement records and outgoing orders gives you greater accuracy, simplifies reporting, and having the correct data for planning.
When looking at increasing warehouse return on investment, the more you can save time, optimize processes, and simplify workflows — the more you can achieve in a day, and the greater ability you have to scale up your business.
Keep your records up to date across multiple platforms and users with automated processes to boost ROI.
– Allocate orders for picking and track orders as they progress
– Update stock reports in real time
– Automate rate calculations as stock is accepted, moved, and picked – Provide customer 24/7 access to up to date reports from their own customer dashboard
Did you know you can reduce admin hours by 40-60 hours a week, while increasing your daily output, with automating invoicing and rates?
Using a WMS with automated rate calculations also allows you to set complex rate cards for various customers, services, seasons, or other factors — ensuring you capture all billable charges — from sliging rate to ad hoc charges, and levys as well, without the time needed to manually calculate each charge.
A simple way to increase your ROI is to reduce mistakes and mispicks. Using barcode scanning to identify warehouse locations and confirm the items being picked increases accuracy across your warehouse operations, with ease.
Simply scan locations and inventory during warehouse put away and order picking for an added layer of certainty at each step. It provides a safety net, where mistakes are rectified in the moment, increasing your daily accuracy and ensuring smoother warehouse operations.
Want to know more about barcodes in your warehouse? Check out this article on everything you need to know about warehouse barcode scanning.
The layout of your warehouse can make a huge impact on productivity, speed of order fulfillment, and how to optimize storage rates.
It can also help you to optimize other workflows like inventory put away and order picking. Depending on the goods you store and the services your warehouse offers, there are different ways to optimize your space. This mainly comes down to allocating storage locations for accurate identification and optimizing storage by how often or how soon the goods will be needed.
Depending on the goods you store, you might want to store goods by batch; First in, First out (FIFO), or First Expired, First Out (FEFO), by temperature zone, or by using Replenishment to store fast-moving goods in easy-to-access locations.
To find out more about increasing your return on investment for your warehouse operations, or to learn more about our easy to use, cloud-based WMS, speak to the friendly team at CartonCloud today.
Start optimizing your operations and increase your warehouse ROI today.
While some organizations may continue to operate the same way they did 50 years ago, today’s competitive business climate forces distributors to take a hard look at their warehouse operations and reevaluate how these spaces can transition from a lost capital expenditure to a profit center.
When asked about the technology used in their warehouses and distribution centers, 44% of respondents surveyed for Peerless Research Group’s recently released 2022 Materials Handling Technology Study said their companies are currently in a phase of “cautiously embracing change.” At the same time, 19% reported taking a wait-and-see approach and 23% revealed they’re moving slowly and among the last to adopt technology.
As I consider these survey results, I can’t help but to think of a Bob Dylan song I’ve always been particularly fond of, titled, The Times They Are A-Changin’.
Although the “cautious middle” approach to digital innovation isn’t new, it is a mentality that’s historically plagued the distribution industry. And it’s why we still hear companies unknowingly utter what I call the six most expensive words in distribution: “We’ve always done it this way.”
Unsurprisingly, the solution usually involves adopting the right software and hardware to breathe new life into operations. That said, many have a hard time understanding the importance of adapting to evolve, even though it’s critical to the bottom line and the longevity of the business. Regrettably, the urgency of this need typically isn’t recognized until it’s too late.
Escape the Comfort Zone
In my years of working with enterprise application software for businesses, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve witnessed is watching the way decision makers choose to stay within their own comfort zone. This is common, but certainly not exclusive to, businesses run by generational families that are content with the status quo. Steady as she goes (a nod to another group of musicians I’m a fan of, The Raconteurs) is the approach; however, this mentality introduces significant hurdles when there’s a stronger need to introduce change that would otherwise improve the business.
Growth is great. That is until it starts to get in the way of the ability to get goods to the customer accurately and on time. Equally concerning is the fact that I’ve witnessed distribution businesses add more employees to their warehouse under the guise of “growth” – when what they’re really doing is supporting inefficient, manual processes that are heavily reliant on institutional knowledge. What these organizations often find is that adding more employees doesn’t necessarily yield higher productivity because paper-driven processes deny them the ability to reach a level of accuracy and efficiency required to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world.
When owners become complacent or buy into the “we have always done it this way” approach to warehouse operations, they run the risk of needing to eventually raise the white flag and sell their business. It’s an unfortunate exit strategy, and it’s not pleasant to think about. To avoid such a fateful end for their organizations, distributors must learn from stories of failure and have the mindset to keep evolving with the technology of the times that keeps their operations efficient and their business competitive.
Conceptualize the Need
As our industry advances with new technologies, I still see warehouses and distribution centers using old-school techniques such as whiteboards or spreadsheets to manage inbound and outbound logistics. For some, the issue is less about being stuck in a comfort zone and more about a struggle to envision the autonomy and financial benefits of those new technologies. In other words, conceptualizing the need becomes an obstacle.
To help distributors recognize such obstacles as the true opportunities that they are, providing examples is key. Say you’re considering a warehouse management system (WMS) to streamline and automate operations. You may be told that a WMS will have a positive ripple effect over your entire organization, from human resources to the C-suite, and that you can expect to see significant operational gains in nearly every functional warehouse area, from receiving, putaway, and picking to cycle counting, shipping, and more. But let’s cover what these gains look like in practice.
Think of a WMS, for example. At its most basic level, a WMS eliminates paper-based processes that directly hinder company growth. Paper-based systems inherently lead to more errors and customer frustration because every time a warehouse manager resolves an error, it costs the company money. Paper will never compete with automated systems. Besides the operational inefficiencies, think of the money wasted on the materials and supplies needed to support manual processes (e.g., toner, staples, clipboards, filing cabinets, storage space, etc.). If a distribution company is looking to compete on picking accuracy, delivery and improved customer service, the WMS would allow them to abandon paper for good.
Let’s take this example a step further. A WMS that offers inbound transportation management allows complete control over scheduling deliveries by simply assigning specific times and bays. This ensures that the right equipment and manpower is ready for unloading (e.g., pallet loaded vs. floor loaded). When the shipment arrives, employees can check the trucks in and out as the system automatically captures metrics on both sides of the operation. Giving warehouse managers the ability to keep an eye on time, space, employees, and vendors more effectively is a win-win in anyone’s book.
Ask any distributor responsible for fulfilling e-commerce orders and they’ll tell you returns are a big issue. The right WMS can make life easier by handling the logistics to manage returns. These tools help e-commerce distributors achieve significant shipping cost savings for the company and its customers, adding to the overall ROI of the system.
When you consciously examine obstacles and open your mind to how technology can lead the way for the betterment of your business, it’s easier to conceptualize and justify a WMS investment. This allows you to forge beyond and away from any stagnation stemming from that “we have always done it this way” mindset.
Flip Obstacles into Opportunities
Embracing technology and digital transformation isn’t about giving up control or abandoning your comfort zone, it’s about changing one’s perspective. At the same time, it usually comes down to user adoption and trusting the software and hardware to do the job it’s intended to do. The key is to find a genuine vendor partnership that provides your warehouse or distribution center with the right technology and support needed to foster a paradigm shift that will effectively flip perceived obstacles into viable opportunities. The result can help your business slash expenses and eliminate outdated and costly manual practices as well.
While the six most expensive words in distribution are, “We’ve always done it this way,” ironically, the six most transcendent words in distribution echo the name of a hit country song by Jason Caraway, “I Wish We’d Done This Sooner.”
Mark Van Leeuwen has been with PathGuide Technologies, Inc. for over 10 years. He has more than 25 years’ experience building a strong clientele and ensuring customer success by working with distributors to understand and appreciate their unique business issues and opportunities.
In the last year and a half, we have witnessed a profound transformation of the business reality, a rapid transition of organizations to the digital world, and a significant change in consumer habits. The growth of e-commerce is a sign of this transformation. According to the forecasts of the study “Economia e Sociedade Digital em Portugal”, released last year, e-commerce in the B2C (business-to-consumer) segment will continue to grow in Portugal and should reach 10.8 billion euros by 2025. The same trend will be felt in the B2B (business-to-business) segment, where e-commerce is expected to reach 155.8 billion euros in that same year.
This paradigm shift forces companies to be increasingly agile and efficient in managing their operations and supply chains in order to meet the growing demands of consumers and an increasingly competitive business ecosystem. The key to positioning companies at the forefront of competitiveness lies in the adoption of technological and innovative tools that enable organizations to optimally and efficiently manage their operations. And in this field, I would like to highlight the importance of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).
At a time when e-commerce is expanding and delivery times are increasingly shorter, it is imperative for a company to ensure rigorous management of its warehouses and ensure a response, without delays or failures, to customer orders. And it is precisely in this field that WMS systems stand out. These systems allow total control of the logistics operations in the warehouse, through automated and intelligent processes, from the moment merchandise enters a warehouse until it is dispatched.
Among the main advantages of these systems are the following:
-More efficient stock management: Through process automation, WMS systems ensure more efficient stock and inventory management, as well as better optimization of all available storage space
-Obtaining real-time data: The visibility of operations is a feature increasingly valued by companies and WMS systems allow organizations to know in real-time all the essential information about stocks, movements, and other aspects
-Logistics Performance Monitoring (KPIS): In addition to visibility, these systems also allow, through specific modules, to monitor the logistics performance of the warehouse activities. By formatting data for analysis and presenting reports, the systems help managers identify possible inefficiencies and possible improvements that can be implemented to ensure a more efficient and productive warehouse management.
-Ease of integration, configuration and usability: It is a tool that can be easily integrated with other systems that companies use, particularly with ERP. In addition, these systems are typically intuitive and easy to use, to ensure that everyone involved in the logistics operations of the warehouse can use them without difficulty.
-Decreased likelihood of errors and failures: By allowing the automation of processes, WMS systems contribute to the reduction of failures and to a better optimization of human resources allocated to warehouse management.
-Thus, WMS systems are increasingly becoming an indispensable tool for organizations to manage their warehouses more effectively, reducing costs and errors, ensuring faster execution of operations and, ultimately, guaranteeing better customer service.
It is tools like these that help companies navigate this new business environment in which e-commerce is playing a catalytic role in the transformation of business models and corporate value chains. I have no doubt that the incorporation of this and other technologies will be a critical factor for success and raise the levels of competitiveness of organizations in this post-pandemic context.
Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world, and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.
In the modern business world, software such as word processing programs, expense report software, payroll software, etc., continue to emerge. The usage of these applications is to increase and measure operations and productivity and conduct other business functions effectively.
Like those mentioned above, another software program that aids in controlling and managing a warehouse’s everyday operations is the warehouse management system (WMS). The WMS software directs inventory receipt and storage, improves order picking and shipping, and offers recommendations on inventory replenishment. A warehouse management system could be used as a standalone tool or as part of a wider Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) framework.
Primarily, warehouse inventory management systems could only deliver vital functions, primarily on the storage location information. WMS functionality can now range from basic best practices in grab, load, and ship features to sophisticated programs facilitating improved interactions with material-handling devices and yard maintenance.
A warehouse management system helps to reduce the possibility of errors occurring when a product is shipped. The program can also help you fulfill orders on time and track ordered products inside the warehouse in real-time.
Additionally, a third-party service provider can host WMS in-house (on-premise) or online (via the cloud). The latter is becoming more popular as the business landscape shifts more towards digital. A cloud-based WMS is simple to scale, allowing you to pay only for the number of users and software technologies you need. And, as appealing as this all sounds, keep in mind the underlying costs and other factors when considering WMS.
You must carefully evaluate the offerings of your prospective technology providers and each merchant’s capabilities in providing a WMS. It is recommended to obtain quotations for the various services included in the system and compare them to the intended budget for the WMS implementation. But most importantly, it is first necessary to understand that WMS prices vary according to an organization’s size, products, industry, and specific needs. The following are some of the essential factors to consider when determining the cost of a WMS:
The Number of Users
The total sum of users who will use the software is one of the most important factors to consider when calculating a WMS cost. Note how many administrative staff or warehouse workers will have to use the WMS as this will definitely affect the fees of the subscription. The majority of technology providers base the cost of WMS on the number of users—the more users, the more expensive it may be. To determine the cost of these licenses, multiply the base WMS subscription fee by the number of users.
Products and Industry
Other things to consider when assessing the expenses of a WMS include the types of items processed or distributed by a company, as well as the sector to which they belong. WMS cost quotations vary by the complexity of a product’s storage, manufacturing, and shipping. Furthermore, companies’ regulated goods by governmental bodies, such as medicines or cosmetics, may increase WMS costs. These factors influence prices because the technology provider considers the scope and extent of an organization’s processes to assist the software.
Companies may also have to consider the costs of any hardware or equipment integrated into the system. Some third-party vendors may offer devices such as a barcode or tag printers, data and voice terminals, and so on – but at a higher initial cost. If an organization already has hardware and software, it can be modified to save money.
Other than these, it is also essential to consider the value of purchasing a WMS for organizations. The best WMS for any company is one that can meet its specific needs and requirements, allowing it to grow and become more effective in an ever-changing business world. Following this, there is more discussion about the benefits of using a WMS.
A good WMS benefits both your business and your customers. Here are a few reasons why having a good WMS is advantageous:
Faster Inventory Turnover
Improving inventory management is the first step toward improving the efficiency of your warehouse and, as a result, your business. It means complete inventory control, from receipt to shipping, when we say inventory management. An effective WMS can significantly enhance inventory management and speed up inventory turnover. A WMS can assist cut lead times by minimizing inventory movement and improving record accuracy, lowering the demand for safety stock.
Enhanced Customer Service
A warehouse management system (WMS) reduces inventory documentation by letting the digital storage of reports, pick tickets, move tickets, and do invoices and packing. Product availability may be more accurately determined, offering customers more realistic delivery dates, reducing customer complaints, and improving overall customer service by expediting operations from the order through delivery.
Warehouse Personnel Reduced
A WMS system can greatly help your warehouse run better and more efficiently by standardizing inventory movements, picking procedures and inventory placements, and minimizing potential error rates and of course, training expenses. It can also aid in stock-flow optimization through the use of an automatic replenishment system.
Better Stock Control
Because of the nature of warehouses, the stock is constantly in motion. Goods are traveling in multiple directions, whether they are coming in, being stored, or leaving, making the process confusing. It is recommended that you keep track of which stock items have the highest turnover rate so that you can store them more efficiently and keep downtime to a minimum.
Optimized Warehouse Space
Ample storage space is essential for a successful warehousing operation. Correct warehouse organization can increase the number of goods stored; for example, using narrow-aisle equipment allows you to place racking closer together.
Improved Labor Productivity
A slow, inefficient, and unproductive warehousing operation is likely the result of several minor issues, such as outdated processes and a lack of employee motivation. It is critical to develop modern systems and techniques to help increase efficiency. A warehouse management system can assist with this.
A well-designed Warehouse Management System (WMS) may give several advantages to the company. These benefits include real-time inventory visibility, substantial cost reductions, decreased mistakes, increased productivity, and efficiency gains. Expenses connected with implementing and maintaining a WMS might vary based on which solution is appropriate for your company. Thus, it is critical to carefully analyze all options and costs associated with implementing and maintaining a new WMS.
A successful warehouse management system will require internal preparation for the company before implementation. It will need configuration to ensure that it includes all of the necessary functions for the business. It must ensure that all employees understand how to operate the new system entirely. Each of these processes will have its own set of expenses, which may vary based on the size and complexity of the project. Costs associated with configuration might rise if modifications surpass the extent of the project’s initial scope. It must have careful preparation and think on the part that could help to avoid incurring unnecessary expenses.
The warehouse management system is worth the cost for companies trying to enhance their warehouse management operations. Instead of relying on employees to do repetitive and simple activities, a WMS enables companies to leverage their employees’ skills, knowledge, and experience to grow and improve the company. In addition, the new warehouse management system may demand modifications to their existing warehouse. Companies may need to upgrade their Wi-Fi or install cabling for specific hardware charging stations, reorganize inventory placements, or take other essential actions depending on the WMS. It is to ensure that they can fully benefit from all of the features available. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that these alterations may result in higher initial investment costs for their system than planned.
Warehouse management software is a must for every supply chain, but for some industries, it can provide additional benefits. Craig Powell, Managing Director of Balloon One, shares his insight into how warehouse management software can be used to optimize pharmaceutical logistics.
Every supply chain is dependent on effective warehouse management, but for the pharmaceutical industry, there are additionally complex challenges to be overcome. Fortunately, many of the unique issues that handling drugs and medical equipment present may be benefitted by the implementation of warehouse management software (WMS).
Below, I’ll take you through just some of the ways that WMS can benefit your pharmaceutical warehouse.
With WMS technology, it’s easier to process and securely transfer digital information so that transparency across the whole supply chain can be achieved. This is crucial for compliance with the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD). The FMD states that every pharmaceutical package must have a unique barcode, containing the batch number, expiry date, and a unique serial number. WMS can read these and keep track of this information, improving efficiency. This also ensures that SecurMed UK, the national medicine verification organization, can be informed when stock is received, moved, and picked for dispatch — again, in compliance with the FMD.
One of the most important elements of pharmaceutical supply is tracking drug expiry dates. WMS can keep dates and product locations to hand, along with other important digital information, to help optimize your first expired, first-out (FEFO) system of inventory management. Not only will this further ensure the goods you store and move are safer, but it can drastically decrease what slips through the cracks and needs to be thrown away once expired. This can help you keep to waste output targets and saves your clients money too, and fewer resources are wasted. It also helps ensure that stock spends as little time in transit and storage as possible, so efficiency is further improved.
According to the MHRA, almost one-third of critical and major deficiencies are due to improper storage temperatures (ABB). WMS can help you keep track of complicated storage information such as the need for temperature or climate-controlled warehousing, as well as contamination control. It can even alert you to urgent issues such as faulty fridges. All this can prevent medicines from spoiling, keeping wasted stock to a minimum, and accurate temperature control can help save energy while lowering heating and cooling costs too.
With data and information, such as stock levels, presented in a visual, easy-to-digest format, you can also far more effectively manage security issues such as theft. Digitizing processes such as vendor tracking and labeling can prevent both accidental and criminal mislabelling, reducing the risk of ‘salting’; monitoring motion-detection alarms and cameras can prevent tampering and criminal activity, and logging each step of your safe disposal practices can prove useful for meeting regulations — or if you come across any legal or environmental trouble.
WMS is designed to be customizable to suit all kinds of projects, so no matter what your needs are, you’ll likely find the technology or be able to personalize your software to better streamline your processes. For example, if you need tailored traceability and storage monitoring, or personalized picking and packing systems, don’t make do — research the options that are available to you. If you can’t find a solution for a particularly complex warehousing requirement, speak to your WMS provider about what packages, add-ons, and personalized services they can provide.
These are just some of the ways WMS is elevating the pharmaceutical supply chain. If your warehouse has complex requirements, you may be surprised by how easily you can streamline your processes with this technology.