Managing Inventory, Order, Work and Labor Flows in the Warehouse

Introduction

As customer demands rise and supply chains grow increasingly global, companies need to drive gains in warehouse productivity and performance to avoid crushing costs. Manufacturers and distributors that intend to remain competitive—driving warehouse productivity to best-in-class levels—must move beyond their existing ERP systems and adopt advanced capabilities. By investing in advanced warehouse management solutions, manufacturers and distributors can maximize product placement strategies, prioritize tasks, implement productivity standards, and increase logistics efficiency. These warehouse management solutions use criteria such as item, location, quantity, and order information to manage stock.

Legacy ERP Issues for Warehouse Management

Most manufacturers and distributors still use legacy ERP systems that lack detailed inventory tracking capabilities, which makes it difficult to support the same product housed in different discrete locations within a warehouse. Different pallets become one bundle of inventory or lot in their systems. Manufacturers are unable to track the lots and expiration dates of those pallets.

Space optimization is another problem, resulting in workers failing to put products in appropriate bins or supporting the proper rotation of products out to customers. Principles such as first in, first out (FIFO) and first expire, first out (FEFO) become difficult, if not impossible, to follow with a legacy ERP. When warehouse employees grab the first product available, products expire in the warehouse and become obsolete.

Legacy ERP systems also lack the capabilities necessary to proactively manage and monitor labor productivity. There’s no way to direct activities in the warehouse for maximum efficiency to ensure that workers are performing in the most productive fashion. It’s not possible to monitor a shift a person has performed in a given day, accounting for time and attendance. For those looking to replace their legacy ERP, an ERP consultant like Datix can help by learning your specific business needs to offer right solution for your organization.

Business Solution: Advanced Warehouse Management

While conventional warehouse management systems typically concentrate on merely locating inventory, advanced systems manage the whole process of material flow: receiving, put-away, cycle counting, picking, replacement, packing, and shipping. These advanced warehouse management solutions can help manufacturers and distributors reach new levels of warehouse visibility, agility, and productivity.

Key capabilities of an advanced warehouse management solution include:

Inventory management

This allows identification and tracking of inventory with sufficient granularity to allocate, fill, and deliver orders as accurately as possible, as often as possible. Users can view and monitor the location, condition, and amounts of all finished goods, components, and raw materials in warehousing operations, as well as rotate inventory according to FIFO/FEFO principles and other relevant factors. Lot control, serial number capture, date code tracking, catch weights, inventory aging, and expiration dates all provide additional visibility and flexibility.

Order management

This enables transactions to be processed quickly and seamlessly—regardless of how and where a sale takes place. Users gain easy access to the information needed to process orders and requests, including detailed customer sales history, product specifications, photos of various product offerings, and replacement products that are available to order.

Work and task management

This manages the ebb and flow of demand by balancing workloads and tasks with available resources. Multitasking enables increased productivity through the use of common workflows, customer requirements, and business processes. Task interleaving allows grouping of work orders and locations with similar or complementary attributes into batches and waves so that orders are received, picked, packed, kitted, and shipped in a timely fashion. Individual worker productivity improves by combining complementary tasks to increase output and limit travel time.

Labor management

This helps maximize worker performance in the warehouse with workforce planning, staffing, and execution capabilities, as well as the ability to monitor direct and indirect labor and provide feedback to workers and supervisors as picking, packing, and shipping activities are completed. Real-time performance measurements give supervisors visibility into operations so they can identify bottlenecks, labor performance problems, and other barriers to productivity, and take corrective action.

Wrap Up

The challenges of warehouse management often come down to an absence of clear visibility into operations. The right ERP solution can offer this visibility and more to overcome warehouse management obstacles.

Learn how to Improve Business Productivity and Agility with Modern ERP

Stay tuned for another post on warehouse management next week!

Read previous blog on Regulatory and Business Challenges for Warehouse Management in 2023

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About Datix

With 25 years of experience, Datix is the partner of choice for ERP solutions. Unlike our competitors, Datix will work with you closely to understand your precise warehouse needs and act as a nonbiased consultant to recommend the best solution for you. No matter what challenges your company faces, Datix will support you every step of the way.

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Please note: This blog post was based on the Executive Brief Conquering costs, complexity, and customer demands with warehouse management from Infor and updated by Datix