Is there anything more obnoxious than a flowchart? Warehouse managers don’t need a flow chart to understand that time is money and time is orders fulfilled. The workflow doesn’t need a bunch of jargon and procedures inserted; it needs a technological upgrade and a way to remove obstacles, manage inventory, and increase productive time in the workday. The benefits of these upgrades result in the faster movement of an order, a more complete fill rate, and a tighter grip on the supply chain that any business of any size need to be competitive in any industry.
Upgrades You Need Now!
The idea that a warehouse can run in the modern era with a couple of computers and printer is not far off the mark. It can run, yes, but it will not run efficiently. In order to make the workflow flow, basic technology comes into play. Smaller business are not going to go over to robots any time soon, but as Logistics Management points out, many are still operating on a pen-and-paper level of technology. Four essential technology upgrades to consider are as follows:
- Barcoding software and barcode label printer. The basics of building a live inventory start with assigning SKUs and printing barcodes, then placing the printed labels on the bin or shelf where the item is located.
- Inventory management software. The live inventory software tracks the receiving, stocking, and picking of items from inventory, keeping your inventory current. Look for software that allows you to seed auto-reorder alerts – this feature generates a PO automatically when the stock falls below a predetermined level. The best software is cloud-based and can be accessed from any device. The software should also integrate with back office standards such as Quickbooks and Excel.
- Tablets and handheld scanners. Pickers use tablets and barcode scanners to scan merchandise out as they go line by line down the pick ticket. Tablets are not expensive but will need WiFi capability and at least one free USB port. An auxiliary battery or a convenient place to recharge is a must.
- Pick to light system. It might seem like the icing on the cake, but a Voodoo Robotics Pick-to-Light system (PTL) is the last element needed to turn a warehouse or stockroom into a lean, mean, order-moving machine. With two lines of text and easy integration with warehouse and inventory management software, as well as the back office, PTL assists pickers in finding the item in stock, verifying the pick, and making sure that there are no picker errors or missing items.
Make it Flow
With Wi-Fi and technology in place, adapting the workflow to suit is easy with a few tips and tricks:
- Put to light. Stocking staff follows the directions on the PTL placed on a cart to put away items in locations indicated. Once put away, the display is cleared, and the put away is verified by clicking the button on the location PTL device.
- Pick to light. Picking staff pulls up a pick ticket on their tablet and is guided by PTL to exact stock locations. The item is scanned out of inventory and into the order on the cart.
- Pack to light. Packing staff’s tablet indicates a new cart in the staging area. They then take the cart with the PTL indicator that matches their information. The pick is verified as it’s packed up and then sent to the shipping area.
- Ship to light. The shipper’s PTL device indicates a package ready to ship, and the cart’s (or pallet mover’s) PTL device shows matching information. The shipper takes the packed order, weighs and ships it before clearing the information from the devices.
There are lots of ways to make new technology work for you, so don’t hesitate to try something new like zone picking, or even doing a reset on the whole warehouse or stockroom to make things run smoother. To get an idea of what Voodoo Robotics can do for you, call and ask about a free demo! You’ll be surprised at what two lines of information can do.
Let’s have a conversation so we can better understand your needs. Schedule a demo or contact us and get control of your mispicks!
If the pick-to-light system avoids just a few mispicks, it’s paid for itself!