Warehouse functions include receiving, shipping, moving, picking, cycle counting and general inventory management.
Shipping late or incorrectly hurts your business and impacts your customer relationships. Even with a great shipping department, mistakes happen. Automation can provide many benefits like RFID portals automatically checking what is going though a dock door against what is on the invoice or shipping manifest. Even using handheld barcode scanners improves accuracy and speeds the shipping process.
Handheld barcode or RFID readers allow paperless picking and can reduce loading time and improve accuracy. Similarly, automated systems can accelerate the receiving process and allow data to be entered directly in the ERP system against your initial purchase order.
Customers frequently complain about the difficulty knowing what they have and where it is. Manual systems break down because people just forget to write it down or it gets copied incorrectly when entered into the computer. These systems have the most trouble during busy times when the priority is on moving materials around. Picking for shipping or clearing the production floor and getting finished goods into the warehouse take priority and the location information just doesn’t get recorded.
Using RFID and barcode can greatly reduce the time involved in capturing the data and RFID portals can completely eliminate the human element. When hand scanning is used, adding portals at key choke points are a great way to add an “audit” feature. The portals will capture everything passing through and an exceptions report quickly highlights any items moved through the choke point that lack a proper “put away” or “move” transaction in your WMS (warehouse management system) ERP system.
Tracking your inventory lets you reduce double ordering and spoilage. Simply tracking inventory has been estimated to reduce shrinkage by 5-10%. Less inventory means less space needed, lower insurance costs, and less personnel hired only to search for product. (You are not alone – a lot of companies have these “searchers”!)
Cycle counting is significantly faster with RFID. Because no line of sight is required, simply pointing and waving a handheld RFID reader toward a storage location and holding the trigger allows for extremely rapid cycle counting of tagged items.
Companies that implemented tracking systems have significantly cut warehouse management costs1
Companies that implemented tracking systems have experienced significant improvements to manufacturing efficiency
Tracking systems are critical to cutting inventory costs5
Automation technologies are essential to reducing asset tracking costs6