Warehouse Management: Top 6 Order Picking Problems and How to Solve Each
One thing easily stands out when it comes to warehouse management: you must be prepared to organize, maintain and manage it as best as you can. But while this may sound like an easy-to-do job, the truth is that you can’t do it on your own.
While optimizing the entire process may help, your business may still be exposed to errors that slow down its operations and affect its bottom line. If your business has started experiencing order-picking problems, it is time to learn how to fix them.
As a warehouse executive, you can showcase your leadership skills by teaching your team how a warehouse management system can assist in addressing the issues at hand. Below is a look at the top six most common problems you’ll likely face and how to handle each.
1. Accidental Redundancies
A cursory look at any warehouse operation shows multiple operations happening at any one time. Every ongoing process follows a particular order which ensures that nothing goes wrong. In an ideal situation, none of these operations collides or get repeated severally.
The presence of redundancies in your operations will only lead to mistakes and lost time.
To address this, implement a warehouse management system to automate your operations. With it, you can rest assured that employees won’t pick, mark, and mistakenly ship one order multiple times. Integrating barcoding tech into it will assist in preventing duplication.
2. Misplaced Items
How often do your workers head to where a product is supposed to be, only to find that it has been moved? Marking and placing items in the wrong bin or category causes your pickers to spend additional time trying to trace the missing item. This, in turn, affects trucking efficiency!
Improper marking leads to delayed orders, delayed shipping, and frustrated customers.
A frustrated customer will, in most cases, leave a negative review affecting your conversion rates. You can increase efficiency by using a warehouse management system. The system tracks the location of every product in the warehouse, allowing for better order fulfillment.
3. Employees Choose the Wrong Product or Quantity
When an employee fulfilling an order chooses the wrong product or quantity, you hope that the packers will notice the issue. Regrettably, these are some of the problems that go unnoticed in warehouses where speed is critical to order fulfillment.
Sending out an incorrect order is expensive and makes your business look unprofessional, especially when there are too many returns. Remember that too many complaints online regarding your order fulfillment rates will affect your overall business reputation.
Once again, you can solve this issue by ensuring all products being fulfilled get scanned using a barcode scanner. The scanner will send a notification to the pickers ensuring this mistake gets rectified before the product gets to the hands of the packers.
During dispatch, the packer can then scan it again to confirm all its details are correct.
4. Your Warehouse Layout Is a Mess
A 2018 survey on warehouses by Logistics Management established that only 68% of all warehouse space is well utilized. And the clearest indication that something is wrong is when you find that your vertical space is open, aisles are cramped, and employees are confused.
The first thing that you’ll ask yourself here is how a warehouse management system can help solve this mess. What you may not realize is that many such programs can use gathered data and 3D modeling to provide layout recommendations.
Using the information the system provides can also offer a glimpse into which products will soon go into demand, depending on the season. From this, you can have the employees update the warehouse locations and layout of items accordingly, bringing the in-demand items closer.
5. Relying on the One Order Per Picker System
Whenever a new order comes in, what’s the recommended action? Does one picker search the warehouse for every product on the order list, or do you send multiple selectors to look for different products? While at it, have you considered using warehouse zoning for product pickups?
Different strategies work differently for each warehouse. But regardless of how you look at it, having a picker locate one product per run is ineffective. It will lead to the wastage of valuable resources making the whole order fulfillment process last longer than it should.
Often this happens in warehouses where pickers have to wait for printed order papers before scouring for products. With a sound warehouse management system, you can reduce the time wasted by using coordinated workflows.
The system will assign specific runs to one employee, enabling them to collect multiple items simultaneously. In such a scenario, the person on that run will get all the items on their order sheet from one zone, leading to better order fulfillment rates.
6. Who Selected a Certain Order?
Lack of proper accountability in the warehouse leads to increased irresponsibility. Your people will become demotivated, and their productivity will begin to decline. A functional warehouse needs visibility and accountability.
It calls for you to have a way to know who picked what order and at what time.
An ideal warehouse management system can help you set up detailed workflows. The workflows allow you to track the progress of each order. Using it, you can communicate with your people, monitor their performance, and send notifications whenever necessary.
Besides communication and alert notifications, such a system also increases order traceability. If a problem occurs with the order, you can use the system to track its progress to try and determine when the issue may have happened and take measures to prevent a recurrence.
Warehouse management is among the most essential processes that typically occur in a warehouse. Given its importance, this is not something that you can afford to implement incorrectly.
Considering that most processes in the warehouse are linked in a way, a problem in one phase can lead to costly mistakes in the subsequent phases. All the six problems mentioned above provide a clue about what can go wrong in a warehouse at any time.
Fortunately, you can prevent this by educating yourself and your people on the warehouse challenges you will likely face and how to deal with each. In the long run, you can implement a warehouse management system to reduce the damage they may cause or prevent them from happening.
Sean Richardson is the owner of Complete Plumbing Solutions, a full service plumber in Cork.