No matter what your company manufactures or the industry you’re in, improving warehouse operations efficiency is one of the best ways to boost profits and build your business. This begins with improving the receiving process. Receiving your raw materials and goods is the key to efficiency. Get this critical step wrong, and it can be hard to backtrack recovery. Early errors will be compounded throughout the rest of your process.
But if your receiving process is efficient and error-free, the rest of your supply chain can run far more smoothly. Shipments may need to be treated differently based on the type of material being handled. These 5 suggested steps, using your ERP and warehouse management software (WMS), can be easily adapted to the products your warehouse handles.
Improve Warehouse Receiving in 5 Easy Steps
A discussion of how to improve receiving in a warehouse begins even before goods reach the warehouse.
Step 1: Communicate Before Receiving
Knowing what’s coming, in what quantities, and via which carrier can help you prepare for incoming shipments.
- Are inbound shipments on pallets or loose items? Have the right equipment and personnel ready to unload the cargo in receiving.
- How many items are in each container? Ask for a count ahead of time and have that number written on the exterior packaging to make it easy for staff to tally and compare the results to the order.
- Which carrier or transporters is bringing the shipment? Many companies use third-party transit companies to deliver loads. Knowing Acme Company has subcontracted to ABC Transportation can help you quickly match inbound shipments to orders.
- Label information: Work out the label instructions with the supplier. You may need a barcode scanner or chip reader on hand that can read the information and upload it into your ERP system.
- Label position: If peel and stick labels are used, ask your supplier to apply them consistently to each pallet, carton, or container for easy inbound scanning.
Step 2: Have the Right Number of Staff to Receive Shipments
Estimate the number of people and hours it will take to process receivables based on data, then ensure you have the appropriate number of staff on hand.
Review reports from your ERP for manufacturing system, inventory control software, and warehouse management software. Data reports from both ERP and warehouse software can help you estimate how long it took to unload similar shipments in the past, as well as the types of equipment and number of personnel needed, allowing you to schedule future resources with greater accuracy. Some reports estimate labor costs at 50 to 70 percent of a company’s average warehouse budget. Accurate estimation and scheduling can save a great deal of money.
Step 3: Safety First
Safely handling goods in receiving is also an essential part of improving receiving in a warehouse.
First, of course, is the safety of your workers. Speed is critical, but safety should never be sacrificed to speed. Make sure employees follow proper safety procedures, especially when working around forklifts and other heavy machinery.
- Make sure trucks are correctly docked in the cargo bay.
- Check to make sure safety brakes are engaged.
- Note the weight of the trailer and cargo. Check to make sure it can also take the weight of the forklift as pallets are moved off the truck.
Next is the safety of the cargo. Perishable goods should be kept at the appropriate temperature, so double-check transit thermometers, and ensure products are moved quickly from the truck to the proper temperature-regulated environment. Receiving personnel should also check all seals, locks, and other safety features on drums, barrels, and containers, especially when moving chemicals, liquids, and anything flammable or dangerous.
Step 4: Review the Cargo Verification Process
If you have a process in place to check shipments, review how well it is working. Items to check during receiving include:
- Did the supplier ship the correct items?
- Does the quantity received match the order?
- Was anything damaged in shipping?
Record any discrepancies between the order, bill of lading, and receipt. Report them immediately to the supplier so replacement or credits can be issued, or damaged items returned promptly.
Counting and verifying damaged cargo can be time-consuming, but the use of barcode scanners and warehouse management software can make this process efficient. For large orders, a spot check of pallets and containers may be all that’s needed to verify items were received in good order.
Track suppliers using your ERP software or warehouse management software. With the data from your system, you'll be in a better position to spot any suppliers with chronic shipping issues such as damages, delays, or mistakes.
Step 5: Stock the Warehouse
The last step after verifying the contents of the shipment is to move it promptly to the right area of the warehouse. Update or replace barcodes on pallets or containers as needed, scan them into the WMS or ERP system, and update bin and shelf numbers to reflect the new counts.
Be sure to check barcodes and labels throughout the warehouse, especially when moving cargo from receiving into long-term storage. Time and environment can wear on labels and packaging, so evaluate and replace any tags that have become illegible.
The Right Software Can Help Improve Warehouse Receiving
It takes proper management, logical process, and of course, the right software to improve your warehouse’s receiving. Combining warehouse management software with an ERP like SYSPRO or Sage 300cloud will give your managers and receiving clerks the data they need to make the right decisions on personnel, space, and equipment. Driving decisions with data—not guesswork—is key to improving efficiency and the bottom line.
Looking for the right ERP solution to improve your warehouse receiving efficiency? PositiveVision delivers ERP software solutions based on your needs. Let our expertise help maximize your business analytics, technology, and manufacturing—all the way to the warehouse. Contact us to get started today.