Practice makes perfect, or so they say. You can perfect the picking and packing activities in your manufacturing warehouse by incorporating some best practices into warehouse management.
Little mistakes can really add up when it comes to warehouse management. If even a half percent (0.05%) of mistakes in picking leads to returns, this can quickly add up in costs of customers lost, replacing stock in the warehouse, processing new orders and more.
To make your manufacturing warehouse an efficient “picking and packing” machine, it’s important to monitor activities there for quality control, just as you would other areas of your manufacturing facility. Attention to detail and quality don’t stop at the end of the assembly line.
Areas to examine include:
- Return data: Go through data on returned orders. One sign there’s a problem in the picking and packing system is a high number of items returned for incorrect products or reports of incomplete orders. Reports from a business intelligence, ERP, or WMS can help you pinpoint if those orders occurred during a specific time period or with specific teams if you can pinpoint it down to the individual level.
- Existing processes: When was the last time you reviewed and updated warehouse processes for picking and packing? If you don’t have a written process, then it’s time to build one. Review your existing process manual and check it against the steps in the picking and packing process. They should be current; that is, reflect the steps that staff currently take or the ideal steps that you’d like them to take.
- Discrepancies: If the process you’ve outlined differs from what’s occurring in the warehouse, find out why. Your warehouse staff may have discovered shortcuts or better ways of handling picking and packing. Yet, their way may not be as efficient as the methods outlined in your process. It may take some time to figure out which way is more efficient.
- Employee feedback: Don’t be afraid to invite the warehouse team’s comments, feedback, and suggestions. A good way to do this is to host a roundtable luncheon where the company provides snacks or beverages and creates an informal atmosphere. Allow people to open up and share thoughts for improving the process, feedback, and ideas.
- Small item counts: Small items can be the most troublesome in the picking and packing process since they are easily dropped, miscounted, or missed during scanning. Consider hosting some additional training sessions with your team on handling small items. Having a team pick and pack many small items can help too, with one person picking and the other person double checking the pick, then recounting it at the packing station
Motivate Your Employees to Improve Manufacturing Warehouse Processes
Improvements in manufacturing warehouse processes don’t just occur from the top-down. You can motivate and inspire your warehouse staff to add to the process improvements.
If you can monitor data on picking and packing, hold a contest to see which team can generate the lowest number of order mistakes. Award prizes or bonuses to the team with zero mistakes per month. Software that tracks return data can help you set the parameters for a contest. Monitor metrics such as returns for incorrect or incomplete orders, which leads straight back to the picking and packing process.
Rarely is it something catastrophic that can harm a company’s profitability. It’s usually small, frequent mistakes that lead to bigger losses. It’s almost like something invisible is siphoning money away. But it’s not invisible. It’s just the little mistakes, like problems in the picking and packing area, that are leading to larger losses. You can take steps to prevent them by using these best practices as well as data from your warehouse management and ERP systems to fix the little problems now before they turn into big losses later.
PositiveVision provides consulting and services to manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution companies. We can help you with choosing an ERP package and creating or adapting dashboards for your executive team. Two ERP software packages we offer to help you manage business information and improve product development processes are Sage 300 and SYSPRO. Sage 300 offers a powerful, flexible ERP system built so that it grows with your business. SYSPRO automates many businesses processes and can help you improve communications with customers, among other benefits.
With the right data, you can better manage your business. Learn more on our website or contact us today.