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Monday, April 14, 2014

Daily Cycle Counts – Your Inventory Accuracy Insurance

Image by Ratch0013, from freedigitalphotos.net

It can be said that your health is a function of a number of daily disciplines such as getting enough sleep, eating right, and even flossing. Similarly your warehouse health is a function of daily habits such as labelling, receiving, putaway, picking, shipping, and cycle counting

In theory if you practise perfect warehouse processes, the need for cycle counts is eliminated. However, we live in the real world and stuff happens or doesn't. Just as we buy insurance to protect our property and valuables, daily cycle counts are your insurance against losing inventory accuracy.

Daily cycle counts.   There are several considerations and approaches for performing a cycle count.

ABC Categories. This consists of categorizing your inventory into three categories: The ‘A’ category products are counted most frequently and account for 80% of your sales, while the ‘B’ products represent the next 16%, and ‘C’ represent the final 4%. This approach will only make sense if your sales fall into the 80/20 rule, whereby 20% of your products represent 80% of your sales. The number of inventory turns for those products will determine how frequently you count them.

Pick Location. A simpler approach is to count every pick location at least once per month.  Locations with greater through-put should be counted more frequently. When counting pick locations it is important to not have any picking or replenishing activities being performed.  

Raw Materials. You can take a value based approach whereby the most valuable items are counted more frequently or take a volume based approach, which counts the items most frequently used. I prefer a hybrid approach of counting items that are the most valuable and most frequently used. However, even the lowest value items are important and their sudden absence can affect production.

Trace. When counting it is also important to note trace information such as expiry dates and lot numbers. As result, cycle counts is often followed by turning over inventory that has expired or are about to expire.  

Schedule It. Whatever way you decide to count your inventory, it is required that you create a schedule and execute daily on that schedule. Choose a time during the day that you are not picking or performing replenishment activities to do so. In fact replenishment activities should be performed after the daily cycle.

Performed correctly and consistently, cycle counts allow you to maintain a high level of inventory accuracy with a minimum of disruption to warehouse operations. 

You know what they say, cycle counts are that "stitch in time that saves nine."

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 12:11:08 AM

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Drawing Lines in the Warehouse - quite literally

By Vlado, from freedigitalphotos.net


I am certainly biased when it comes to barcoding and inventory accuracy, but those black and white lines on your packages and cases are essential elements in the daily battle of maintaining accurate inventory records.

However, you should consider a low tech solution that involves using another type of line. In this regard, I'm referring to the use of boundary lines to establish areas in your warehouse that physically segregate or quarantine inventory items from the general inventory population.

Here are some areas that we've created in our warehouse and perhaps some new ones that you may want to consider:

1) Holds Receiving Area – we often get shipments up to 8pm despite our warehouse team leaving each day at 6pm. So we’ve created a holding area where ‘unscanned’ goods get dropped into. This way when the warehouse team returns at 7am the next day, they don’t have to second guess which items need to be received into the system. We made the area large enough to accommodate a full trailer load of 24 pallets.

2) Production Area – in order to keep our presses running with minimal downtime, our material handlers bring enough rolls of paper to support the entire shift. However to the untrained eye, there is no way anyone can tell if those materials sitting in front of the press have been issued or simply there temporarily.   So we’ve created a production area marked off with a line and a post. Any items past the line or post mean those products have been issued to the press and are not to be touched.  

3) Finished Goods Receiving Area – individual rolls of labels come off our presses and are packed into boxes which are subsequently placed onto pallets. The job of the material handler is to then perform a finished goods receiving scan against that pallet of goods. To ensure the scan first takes place before being brought into the warehouse, we've drawn a line across the floor separating the production from the warehouse and there is a sign that says, “All items crossing this point must be scanned”.

4) Rework Area – returned product is automatically placed into these specially marked locations to be inspected and if required they‘re re-worked into a saleable condition. When product is in these areas, everyone knows not to pick them for orders or move them into another location.

Inventory accuracy is solely not the result of using high tech tools, it’s about being pragmatic and choosing the solution(s) that deliver the best return. And sometimes it may just involve drawing a line or two.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 4:16:51 PM

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Inventory Accuracy – The Holy Grail of Warehousing


Image from IFC

The ultimate purpose of following best practices in a warehouse is to ensure high if not 100% inventory accuracy. Yet when you ask people to define inventory accuracy you get as many answers as there are flavours at Baskin Robbins.  Even experts in logistics and supply chain all agree that getting a common definition is next to impossible because it all depends upon what products you’re tracking, who you’re tracking it for (finance, operations, management, customers), and how you’re going to measure inventory accuracy.

Let’s start with an accepted definition of inventory accuracy:

“When the on-hand quantity is equivalent to the perpetual balance (plus or minus the designated count tolerances).”

Note the use of “plus or minus designated count tolerances”. That tolerance is typically left to the discretion of the consumer of that inventory accuracy information. Consider the example of a warehouse with 100 locations with supposedly 100 items in each location of equivalent value. Let’s say after the count, we discover one item missing in each location. To the Finance department this means inventory is 99% accurate but to Operations, inventory accuracy is zero.

One department is doing cartwheels with the prospect of minimal write-down and financial exposure while another has gone into panic mode trying to figure out the process issue and anticipating the complaints from customers.

The trick is to develop a number of different measures for inventory accuracy. One that meets financial requirements and another that meets customer commitments and/or operational goals.

I'm going to share with you today a very basic one that has served me well both for our labels warehouse and for customers.  This calculation generates three measures of inventory accuracy.

First start with these ingredients:

  • Perpetual Inventory records by part number showing both quantity and unit value

  • Inventory Count records by part number

  • Variance between the two counts

  • Cost value of the inventory

  • Number of locations counted

So for example let’s say you counted these three part numbers across 7 locations your warehouse:

Part Locations to be counted (7) Cost per part Perpetual QTY Perpetual Value Count QTY Total  Count Value Variance and location
123 TF 1, TF 6, TF 4  $10  100  1000   90   $900   -10 in TF 1
124 TF 2, TF 8  $5   150  750   160   $800    10 in T2, T8
125 TF 3, TF 9  $20  200    4000   180   $3,600   -20 in T3
Total     450 5750 430 5300 40


From this count we get the following Inventory Accuracy numbers:

Inventory Accuracy by QTY is 40/450 or 91.1% based on quantity count

Inventory Accuracy by Location is 3 locations having discrepancies from a total location count of 7 or 58%

Inventory Accuracy by Cost is total perpetual value divided by counted value: $5300/$5750 is 92.2%

While inventory accuracy at the quantity level of 91.1% may be acceptable to Operations with buffer stock of 10%, it may not be acceptable to Finance that 7% of the cost of inventory needs be written off the books and certainly unacceptable that 42% of locations hold inaccurate inventories.

So the trick is to use several different measures of Inventory Accuracy that way when you’re talking about this very important stat it truly means something to the person who is basing his/her decisions on that measure.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem

 


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 6:56:14 PM

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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Drivers of Accurate Inventory - Negative Inventory

Image by SOMMAI from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net Available for purchase HERE

Welcome to a new series on Accurate Inventory!

In this series I'm going to get pretty granular as accurate inventory requires doing a lot of little things right. As a result you’ll get specific takeaways for immediate use in your warehouse.  

Negative inventory is a common occurrence in inventory systems and I liken it to free radical build-up in our bodies as a result of metabolic reactions.   Many healthcare advocates link oxidative damage caused by free radicals causes to ageing.   In a similar vein allowing negative inventory to build up in your inventory control system causes rapid ‘ageing’ of products in the warehouse.

The most common causes of negative inventory are:

  • Inventory moves are not recorded. Thus when product is picked or shipped from a location that hasn't been updated, you may be physically moving product but to the system it’s not there.

  • Inventory moves are recorded but the wrong location is entered. Same result as the above when product is subsequently moved from where it really is.

  • Buying parts under one part number code and incorrectly shipping out on another. We’re guilty of this practise ourselves and happens frequently especially on non-labelled products such as third party service contracts, which are treated by our accounting folks as an ‘inventory’ item.

  • Back flush activities of parts triggered by the receipt of finished goods in a manufacturing process or auto issue of raw materials in support of a manufacturing bill of materials. In this situation, the paper work trails the actual physical receipt of the goods which should in theory set the bin quantity to the right amount once it has been entered.

So while your overall quantity for that part in question may be accurate, you've thrown off your inventory accuracy as that location(s) really doesn't have that quantity, because it is offset by another location(s) with negative quantities.  

This means you must set up a weekly or monthly program to resolve these negative amounts. Simply zeroing them out is not enough; you need a Negatives Report identifying all instances by location of any products 'contaminated' by a negative quantity and then perform a cycle count to confirm quantity and location.

An ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure, this is one warehouse habit worth doing on a regular basis.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 12:47:03 PM

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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Four Sins of Paper – The Case for Paperless

Texture from: http://www.texturezine.com/wrinkled-paper-textures/

Wireless warehouse transaction processing is used in the vast majority of large warehouse operations over 50,000 sq ft. But when considered, across all 800,000 warehouses in North America only 30% use any form of barcoding or warehouse management system.

Today I’m making the case that irrespective of size, all warehouses should at the very least have barcoding and/or wireless technologies to support paper sparse or preferably paperless warehouse transactions. And for the large warehouses, they shouldn't rest on their laurels - the next level is getting more visibility of products outside the four walls which includes products in the yard, in transit, at offsite 3rd party warehouses, to products sitting on customer shelves.

A common trait amongst Best in Class (BiC) warehouses is the sharing of electronic data with supply chain partners. Before BiC warehouses had this capability, they first perfected electronic sharing of data within their own four walls – a “walk before you run” development process.

Let’s start with the issues of Paper:

  • Gets written down incorrectly – we've all been guilty of writing down the wrong number either in the right sequence or not at all. 

  • Illegibility – do your 5’s look like 8's or your 7’s look like 2's? Your may have no problem reading your own writing but others may complain that your writing looks like a doctor’s prescription. 

  • Entering the wrong data – 1 in every 200 keystrokes is the error rate associated with data entry practises.

  • Lost data – perhaps a politically correct term would be "misplaced", someone puts down the completed pick list by the water cooler or leaves it in the lunch room, only for it to turn up a few days later.  

All of these issues contribute to a major problem: lack of timely and accurate information within your warehouse operations. No surprise that most WMS providers including ourselves usually can find a 1 to 1 ½ year ROI on WMS by simply driving out paper.

In keeping with the walk before you run philosophy, here are four suggestions for getting started with barcoding and wireless technologies. And given the cost of WiFi routers and barcode scanners, there is really no financial excuse for making this investment; your real ‘cost’ is putting in the time to make it happen.

  1. Inventory Counts. Ingredients are: barcoded locations, parts, and scanner (which could even be your smartphone). Scan and download the file to an excel spreadsheet and then reconcile to your accounting system. At a minimum do-it-every-month, you have 12 turns a year, frequently more.

     

  2. Inventory Moves. A good librarian will tell you that having the book in the library is worthless unless they know exactly where it is.  Likewise knowing that the product is ‘somewhere’ in the warehouse makes you reliant on someone’s memory or plain ol' luck for it to turn up. Track products in and out of locations and back up those moves with regular counts.

     

  3. Labelling. Make sure all incoming products have a barcode that is scan-able. If you refer to my Inbound Best practises blog  it can get pretty complicated. However the good news is that this endeavour is not costly but does require a reworking of your receiving processes to include re-labelling and/or making the sure the barcoded part number on the product is compatible with your existing part numbering schema.

     

  4. Create a Reward System for Accurate Inventory. It doesn't have to cost you much, maybe a pizza lunch, movie tickets, or just recognition. Making new work processes into habits is much easier with an incentive system. A 5% improvement in inventory accuracy on $100,000 of inventory is $5,000 less in inventory you won’t need to write-off or order because you can’t find it in the warehouse.

As we march towards online inventory to support customer queries and/or shopping, inventory accuracies must be in the high 90’s. Anything less means you’re throwing away money developing great looking websites and marketing promotions driving online demand.

Online shopping websites are only as good as the inventory and warehouse processes supporting that data.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 10:29:20 AM

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Saturday, February 01, 2014

After Inventory Best Practises – Best in Class Facility

Image from sodahead

It's finally here -  Inventory Best Practises, Volume 1.

These e-books are a culmination of 20 years plus working alongside individuals like yourself in the Supply Chain industry. The contents are drawn as much from my direct work in this great industry to seeing these practises in action. 

As a result the five volumes contain over 100 best practises and are grouped into a dozen general areas like Receiving, Putaway, Picking and Shipping. 

So where does a facility go next after mastering these best practises? Simple - they go onto to becoming world class facilities. It’s not enough to be just a practitioner of good inventory processes the next step is to benchmark yourself against other best in class facilities.

Here are some key characteristics of world class facilities, as reported in a March 2011 study from Industry Canada -  Global Business Strategy and Innovation – A Canadian Logistics Perspective.


Best
in Class (BiC) firms are those firms in the top 20% as measured by performance in key areas as on-time shipments, inventory accuracy, and order completeness.

BiC firms are most likely to:

  1. Invest in Electronic Technologies to enable communications with key suppliers and customers. This level of communication provides those companies with the agility to respond quickly to any sudden changes in the supply chain.

     

  2. Invest in Software and Advanced Technologies. 80% of BiC firms use a WMS with integrated mobile devices. Other technologies and integration include voice picking, link to customs and port authority, link to customer systems for enhanced visibility,  automated delivery confirmations, and web based technologies such as Cloud Computing allowing for the rapid adoption of new technologies

     

  3. Invest in Training. BiC firms are twice as likely to provide training in the use of warehouse technologies and processes.

     

  4. Invest in Analytics. BiC firms have extensive alerts and metrics that measure performance in these two key areas: transportation spending and trends; shipment integrity.

Skills shortages, global competition, prices pressures, and the bottomline are all great reasons why firms need to continually invest in best practises, training, and key technologies.  

Do that and your scanners will be on for the long haul.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 4:29:35 PM

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Inventory Best Practises Part 11 - Shipping

image source: subseaworldnews

As the economy improves and more shopping moves through the internet, companies are seeing an increase in shipping volumes and are looking to scale their operations. However many shipping processes in warehouses today are manually based and will result in a disproportionate cost increase if shipping operations are merely expanded based on current businesses practices.  

Shipping is the warehouse activity where the ‘rubber meets the road’. This function typically generates your invoice, ASN (advanced ship notice), a series of EDI transactions, and numerous metrics such as cases/totes shipped, inventory turns, on-time shipments or lines shipped vs scheduled.

Nothing less than 100% shipping accuracy and execution is acceptable; the general viability of your business is at stake.

Here are 10 best practices to consider:

  1. Two-Stage Shipping – At first this may sound like we’re imposing an extra step. However we’re advocating that the order be staged before it is shipped.  Too often warehouses don’t recognize the staging function as a critical part of the shipping processes. Staging is used to consolidate an order, plan a load into a trailer, inspect the order, generate labels, and other documentation.

  2. Shipping Processes - Take steps to automate basic shipping processing as a means of leveraging existing shipping resources as volumes increase. This could include functions such as automatic generation of the shipping and packing slip when picking is done or picking direct into the carton to be used for shipping.

  3. Hot Loading – Increase flow through the warehouse by having product coming off the manufacturing line go direct to shipping. This involves developing the appropriate systems to divert picks to the production area and coordinated scheduling between shipping and production.

  4. Cross Docking – goods arriving in the receiving area where there isn’t sufficient quantity in the warehouse, means diverting picks to that area. Also certain products by their nature and value e.g. bread and dairy products must be cross docked. In any event systems, must support the cross dock processes and the shipping area or receiving area personnel must be trained to support this pick/ship process.

  5. Packing materials – Kraft paper, foam, bubble wrap, and lined bags, allow for general re-use and are recyclable. Being green in the shipping area is an expectation by today’s environmentally conscious consumer. If you must use Styrofoam peanuts consider putting them a plastic bag.

  6. Rate Shopping SystemsEvaluate rate shopping software sometimes called Transportation Management Solutions to make carrier choices for each shipment. These solutions take into account cost, delivery time and daily shipment volume to arrive at the lowest overall cost.

  7. Packing Slip – Perhaps my biggest shipping pet peeve is that many companies pick by a packing slip and not a true pick ticket which would show locations to pick from, order of picking, and any instructions. Much happens during the pick processes such as substitutions, short picks and even over picks. Any change to the order means manually re-entering what was picked and re-printing the pack slip thus creating re-work and inefficiencies. The packing slip should only be generated upon completion of the picking and inspection functions.  

  8. Labeling – cases and pallets should be clearly labelled with scannable barcodes (smudges or badly printed barcodes) for proper identification by downstream workers and by the customer.  Amazon’s best practice for labels placement is no less than 1.25” from any natural edge. Multiple pallets belonging to the same shipment should have identifiers such as “1 of X.”

  9. Shipping Weights – for safety purposes cartons weighing no more than 50 pounds (and if over clearly marked with warning label). Pallets no more than 1500 pounds gross weight and pallet contents should be secured with stretch wrap or twine.

  10. Parcel and LTL Automation – Many solutions from freight forwarders and transport companies provide the means to develop a transportation strategy that encompasses optimal shipment of parcel and LTL/freight shipments. In fact many transportation consultants earn their living by keeping a portion of any savings when they develop a cost saving shipping strategy.

The exponential growth of online and mobile technologies has changed the way we shop and buy. Driven by omni-channel marketing and 24/7availablity, same day fulfillment and delivery will become the new benchmark of warehouse performance. 

Warehouses today must absolutely evaluate, automate, and adopt best practices if they are to stay relevant in this new paradigm.

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 6:18:42 PM

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reflections from NRF 2014

image from http://bigshow14.nrf.com/

I along with 40,000 other attendees and exhibitors just returned from the annual National Retail Federation Conference in New York City. The excitement and energy at the show was very evident; the US economy has recovered and consumers are spending. The seminars and booths of leading retail suppliers like Motorola, IBM, and Microsoft were packed solid but ironically the company that stole the show wasn't even at NRF.

Of course I’m speaking of Apple. The dominant devices used to demo the new customer engaging software and services were iPads and iPhones.  The message: “If you want to engage customers, look cutting edge, and ensure adoption of your product, put it on iOS. “

Other observations:

Omni Channel Customer Engagement. It’s about bricks and mortar retailers engaging the customer via multiple touch points: email, direct mail, websites, social media, digital signage and of course their iPhones. Customer facing applications are now being ported en mass to tablets and smartphones in an effort to engage customers whenever and wherever.  

Big Data is Big.  Who can make sense of all this data: what customers are buying or saying on social media sites, to ‘department dwell times’ and foot traffic patterns in stores? The answer is Shopper Analytics or Business Intelligence (BI).  Lots of vendors at NRF offering their services to gather, aggregate, filter to identify trends and forecasts of shopper behavior all shown on beautifully crafted digital dashboards.

Real Time Locating Systems. Over a dozen vendors including wireless providers Cisco, Motorola, Aruba, and Aerohive, to software companies such as Inside and Euclid are using WiFi networks to tell retailers when the customer arrived, where they went and how long they stayed.

Standing Room Only Seminars and Keynotes. There is a huge thirst for knowledge and understanding of what is happening and who is doing what. Retailers are poised to spend billions in 2014 but first there has to be a plan.

Let the Good Times Roll. At the trade show expo where there were over 500 vendors, I can’t remember the last time I saw so many magicians, portrait illustrators, espresso bars, and complimentary seating areas being offered by exhibiting vendors.  

The Retail Revival is on.  A re-tooling and investment on a massive scale has begun not unlike what the auto industry went through five years ago. The new retailer is here, he’s going to be smarter, more agile, and my favourite new word - omni-channel.  

Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 10:14:17 PM

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Sunday, January 05, 2014

Inventory Best Practises Part 10 – Replenishment of Pick Locations


Image from Logility

Replenishment is the physical act of moving product from a bulk or storage location to a pick location where the product is selected for shipment to a customer. Some call this process a forward pick or letdown but almost always involves breaking down a full pallet into the selling unit of measurement such as cases or batches as part of the re-stocking process.

This function is critical to getting proper inventory turnover. How and when you replenish will have a direct bearing on the quality of those turns and keep inventory obsolescence to a minimum.

Here are some best practises to consider.

  1. Advance Replenishment. Triggers for replenishment of pick locations are typically based on minimum-maximum quantities in a location. Adding the day’s order flow to your replenishment quantity allows you to do advance replenishment. If the day’s picks exceed available spaces in the pick locations, where possible to create a temporary pick face at the end of an aisle. Always aim to have enough stock on the floor to support that day’s picking activity. 

  2. FIFO Replenishment. Have your material handlers pull stock from bulk locations that contain the oldest stock. This is often easier said than done as it requires some sort of pallet identifier like license plating, lot number, or even an arrival date in order to differentiate which pallets to select for replenishment. Also if you’re like many warehouses that use double deep storage racking that is only accessible only from the front you’re going to use a modified form of FIFO replenishment for the sake of efficiency. 

  3. Directed Putaway. When stock in the pick faces are low or empty, your putaway logic should support receiving to pick location replenishment. This may include have the capability to breaking down pallets in the receiving area into units of measurement acceptable for the pick locations. 

  4. Prioritize Replenishment. Ensure pick faces that need to stock up in support of the day’s picking activities are prioritized ahead of min-max or what can fit into a pick face. Constantly monitor picking backlogs and add additional manpower as needed if replenishment is falling behind.

  5. Multitask the Replenisher. The person doing the replenishment have him perform cycle counts when a location is zero or near zero, make him/her responsible for ensuring stock is properly arranged, location labels are visible or present, replace damaged stock, and neatly arrange inventory making it is easy to pick.

  6. Replenishment direct to a Staging Location. If a picker couldn’t find what he wanted, don’t make him circle back to the warehouse instead send the replenisher direct to the pallet in the staging area.  One of our customers designated a person to this function and nicknamed him ‘Shorty’; his job is to fill all orders 100% by drawing stock from other locations in the warehouse. 

  7. Replenishment by Zone. As with picking over 50% of that activity is spent in transit moving from location to location. Economize that movement by organizing replenishment by zone or close groupings of locations in the warehouse.

In summary replenishment is a balancing act; too much replenish activity and you’re wasting resources while too little causes fill rates to suffer. You know you’ve achieved the right balance when you’ve scheduled just enough replenishment activity to support that day’s picking.  

Happy New Year and Scanners On!

Jeff Lem


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 8:14:07 PM

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top 10 Worst Inventory Practices in 2013



As we close out the year I thought I would take a different direction and highlight some of the worst practices I’ve seen this year. And I must confess that we are guilty of some of these as well, which is really saying they’re easy to commit because it’s convenient and gets the product out the door.  However there’s a price tag for all these ‘sins’ and that comes in the form of obsolete inventory and dissatisfied customers.

  1. Picking against a Packing List.  Picking against a pick list that is optimized to support most efficient picking and travel through the warehouse and manually adjusting the packing list that is typically sent to the customer will look unprofessional and opens you up for fraud. Also a photocopy is sent to accounting for invoicing purpose; so what happens if that paper copy gets lost or diverted, entered wrong, or read wrong?

     

  2. Location Labels not barcoded. Forcing manual data entry of locations is an invitation not to enter them correctly or at all whenever an inventory movement is performed.

                                                            

  3. Not scanning the barcoded product codes. Barcode scanning is many times more accurate and efficient. If the barcodes don’t match up with your internal part parts, create an alias table that cross references the supplier’s part codes with yours.

     

  4. Keeping the Warehouse neat and tidy. Open boxes on shelves, paper on the floor, and product piled too high do not inspire confidence in visiting customers and suggests that the staff and management doesn't respect the product. One of my lasting impressions of my visits to Disneyland is how staff kept the place spick and span and that simple act adds to the magic of the experience.

     

  5. Direct Replenishment. This goes to knowing your inventory level in your prime pick locations at all times. Such that when product arrives, your system should direct that product to the pick location(s) and not to a bulk location.

     

  6. On the job training of warehouse staff.  Giving staff members a quick ½ hr overview of the system because it’s a ‘really simple system to use’ is just plain wrong. Take them into a classroom, start with the basics and then drill down to the exceptions and all the tricky stuff. In the end, give them documentation or access to what they just learned. These people are the last touch point before the product gets to the customer – that’s a big responsibility and deserves much more than just cursory training.  Arrange monthly or at the very least quarterly refresher courses where the users get updated on new system enhancements and even better speak with the developers on new program features or issues they’re having.  

     

  7. Not Tracking Productivity. Who’s your best picker? What orders got out quickly and which ones didn’t? When you plan warehouse production what stats or rates are you using and when was the last time you really analyzed it? Take the time over the holiday and go over your numbers – you will likely find some big surprises and corresponding adjustments.

     

  8. Warehouse Safety becomes important because of an incident. Is your racking up to snuff? When was the last time you had your rack specialist or your equipment material handling rep look through your facility? Over the course of a year, beams get bumped, equipment gets worn out, and people forget proper safety procedures – don’t wait until a WSIB incident forces your hand.

     

  9. Not enough time to do Cycle counts. So instead, you do a one big physical count. Just remember eating an elephant is a lot easier when you do it in small bites. Use the full year to cycle count everything using ABC criteria.

     

  10. No dedicated Inventory Replenishment and Count staff. If your inventory is worth a million dollars and lets say it turns over 12 times a year, isn’t it worth it to pay someone $50k per year to ‘look after’ $12 million of inventory? His/her job will be to make sure inventory looks neat, is properly rotated, pick locations are full and the counts are being organized and done. A smart investment that will pay for itself within a month.

     
    There are many more but are the ones which will give you the biggest bang with the least cost.

    All the best this holiday season and 2014.


    Scanners On!


    Jeff Lem

 


Posted By: Jeff Lem @ 11:59:17 AM

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