When it comes to using automation and technology to improve operations and outcomes in your warehouse, simple investments can make all the difference. You don’t have to shift to an enormously expensive system of robotics and AVRs to see a real difference to efficiency and the bottom line. These are our top tips for using technology and automation to make positive change in your warehouse.
1. Introduce barcode scanners
One of the most straightforward and inexpensive changes that you can make is to introduce barcode scanners to your warehouse. This will speed up operations, as information doesn’t have to be entered manually, and also ensure that the potential for mistakes is minimised. Bluetooth barcode scanners tend to be the best choice as they don’t come with wires and cords so your staff can move around freely.
2. Integrate a warehouse management system (WMS)
If your warehouse is still effectively paper based then a WMS could bring huge positive change. The major advantage of a WMS is that it provides data about your warehouse in real time, allowing for up to date perspective on inventory, goods being scanned in and out of the warehouse and helping to improve order fulfilment latency and perfect order rate. A WMS automates many processes that staff would otherwise have to handle manually.
3. Work with an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
An EDI - “the computer-to-computer exchange of documents in a standard electronic format between business partners” – has many benefits for any warehouse. These include helping to minimise missed deliveries, reduce mispicks and avoid double selling. An EDI can also monitor relationships with suppliers and automatically chase where there are delays – plus it will automatically send out tracking information to customers, reducing the number of manual tasks that your workforce is required to handle.
4. Integrate shipping with leading carriers
There are many opportunities to introduce greater automation if you opt to integrate shipping with leading carriers such as DPD or UPS. For example, integrated shipping means that carriers are automatically alerted when there is a shipment that requires collection and can also simplify internal systems, for example automatically printing labels for staff to use. A fully automated end-to-end order process can significantly improve the efficiency of your business and provide cost savings too, reducing time wasted and streamlining staffing requirements.
5. Free up staff time with automation bots
Automation bots help to get more orders out of the door by handling key processes, including order creation, invoicing, fulfilment and inventory reservations. Once you have established a set of rules for the bots orders can be instantly allocated and dispatched and order statuses automatically changed so that the team knows when orders need to be picked, packed or dispatched. Automation bots essentially cut out the middleman to help your business improve efficiency through greater process automation.
Automation and technology have a lot to offer warehouse businesses today and investing in them can quickly introduce positive, and lasting, change.