Steps to Controlling Inventory Flow & Driving Warehouse Efficiency
Controlling inventory flow is a top priority among warehouse managers, and gaining control over inventory drives warehouse efficiency. However, figuring out the best way to achieve this feat can be confusing, so warehouse managers should follow these steps.
Controlling Inventory Flow Begins With Liquidate Nonessential Products
Warehouses have a tendency to become stock rooms for stale product. The first step to controlling inventory flow effectively is liquidation of all non-essential products, explains Paul Trujillo of Business2Community. This also includes all equipment that is not used in the routine picking of orders. Obviously, specialty equipment required to move large, bulky items should not be liquidated.
Ditch Wave Picking
Wave picking was the standard in warehouse management and order picking for decades. Unfortunately, wave picking results in both periods of heightened activity and periods of no activity. While this may work for small businesses, it can be detrimental to the growing state of e-commerce in retail. As a result, warehouse managers must implement waveless picking strategies, such as order streaming, to gain control over inventory flow and push warehouse efficiency forward.
Implement Continuous Review Systems for Reordering
Before reordering any product, the previous flow of that product should be carefully scrutinized to determine if the product will be in demand. This will help to prevent the reordering of slow-moving products and ensure optimum inventory levels. Additionally, considering the reordering of any product should involve a review of slotting optimization practices. Taking this consideration is crucial to ensuring the optimum lot use of space in a warehouse, especially among peak in the shopping season.
Use Automated Technologies
Automated technologies, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and automated identification and data capture (AIDC), can enhance inventory flow and drive warehouse efficiency as well. These technologies may also include voice-enabled commands and automated order processing.
Implement Vendor Compliance Programs
Another factor to consider when trying to improve inventory flow involves the use of a strong vendor compliance program. Otherwise known as an inbound freight routing guide, a vendor compliance program ensures accuracy and accountability on the side of incoming shipments.
Put Away Stock as It Arrives
The incoming stock should also be put away into its appropriate slots upon arrival. This prevents delays on docks and ensures the timely completion of order processing, packaging, and shipping.
Strengthen Returns Management
Returns are part of warehouse management, and even the best-laid plans for order processing cannot prevent all returns. Warehouse managers must consider the impact returns will have on ongoing operations. As a result, managers should implement strong returns management programs, determining why products were returned, the value of returned products, if the product can be resold and if vendors will allow the return of products. Automating this step of warehouse management can also save big bucks.
Take Advantage of Third-Party Systems and Services
There will be periods when existing warehouse management operations cannot handle sudden spikes in shopping. Given the rise of e-commerce in the last holiday shopping season, warehouse managers should consider using third-party companies to help manage warehouse efficiency, integrate systems or complete transportation needs. Third-party integrators (3PIs) and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) can help boost inventory flow by giving your company access to advanced supply chain systems.
Audit. Audit. Audit.
Audits are crucial to reducing warehouse problems and improving inventory flow as well. Every transaction should be audited for accuracy and possible problems. This allows warehouses to continuously improve, and more warehouses are choosing to outsource auditing to third-party companies. Of course, automated auditing systems can be implemented if integrated with existing warehouse management and order management systems as well.