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How Paperless Warehouse Operations Increase Productivity and Efficiencies


worker using paperless warehouse mobile device to manage stock

A paperless warehouse and racking that utilises every available space are ambitions for many facilities rather than reality. However, many long-standing practices are applied without question in any industry, and storage and inventory management are no different.

Companies still attempt to operate storage systems and pallet racking that has been installed based on just fitting in rows of racks to hold stock in their warehouse space. The racking works, but it does not maximise the use of the available space. The inefficiencies create unnecessary cost increases.

The same can be said for inventory management operating with paper-based systems. The traditional practices have worked for years, but cracks are starting to appear in the processes in the new world of higher stock inventory levels to meet just-in-case order fulfilment. The paperless warehouse is many steps away from how they are operating their facilities now.

A function that occurs daily in warehouse operations is receiving stock. How that is handled has a major impact downline from the initial receipt of inward goods. The question for warehouse managers is, “when do you start tracking your stock?” “Is it when the stock arrives at the warehouse, or is it when it’s recorded on your system?”

For some warehouses, it occurs sometime after the stock is delivered on-site. The process that has been a mainstay for warehouses for many years is:

1.      On arrival of the truck, unload and stage the stock in the receiving dock.

2.      You may need to break down a pallet and inspect the contents to ensure you have everything on the order list. Then, the stock is assembled on the floor to allow easy reconciliation with the paperwork.

3.      The stock is then restacked to pallets ready to be put away in the racks.

4.      Stock may be put in different locations depending on space availability.

5.      The delivery docket or invoice is put in an office tray for data entry into the business system. This can be minutes, hours or days later, depending on the workload of the administration personnel.

The exposure to unnecessary errors is high, and the efficiencies of the operation are undermined through mistakes that are not captured from the start. The paper-based warehouse relies on accurate data entry, and achieving one hundred per cent accuracy is rare.

When errors occur, it can compound to become seriously problematic when it affects the customer. For example, the inventory is unavailable or not located where you thought, so the items cannot be used to complete orders until the inventory is found or entered into the system. This breakdown in customer service can cause a loss of time and money as people work to resolve the issue.

Complimenting the Well Design Warehouse

A well-designed warehouse combines different styles of racking systems, well-considered traffic flow, flow of goods for picking and packing, inventory storage requirements and sufficient storage to expand product items. In addition, the best-designed warehouses increase your stock-holding capabilities and minimise the movement of forklifts and robots.

However, a warehouse is only as effective as the systems that operate within the warehouse’s operational procedures. Receiving stock in the paper-based warehouse environment would detract from any design as the methods lack structure, efficiencies and an error-free environment.

For your warehouse facility to be fully optimised, it requires your warehouse management system to manage many processes giving real-time information across the business’s operations. The best tools are mobile scanners, which provide streamlined methods of receiving stock. In addition, these mobile devices are a smart workflow simplifying the physical task of receivables.

The Smart Workflow

Using mobile scanners to create a paperless warehouse compliments your business operation and inventory management. The benefits of a paperless system directly contribute to increasing efficiencies many times as you remove the exposure to human error, the need for administrative staff to key in data, and the ability to cross-reference orders to inward goods received in a matter of seconds. The initial cost of purchase is returned through the reduced costs of overheads and error rectification.

Using a mobile scanner and smart workflow through a paperless warehouse considerably simplifies employees’ physical tasks. It works like this.

1.      Inventory deliveries are unloaded and staged in the receiving dock.

2.      The PO number is entered, and you can scan an item and key in the quantity received.

3.      The stock is now received in the warehouse management system, and you are tracking it straight away. The paperless warehouse means there are no errors in the data transfer from the receiving dock to finance and other departments.

4.      As the items are scanned, they are moved onto designated pallets to be put away. You repeat these first steps of the process until you have received everything.

5.      Confirmation of the purchase order delivery is in the business system, ready for immediate use or despatch to your customers.

6.      As each pallet is filled, it can be stowed away directly in a scanned storage location or staged for put away later by another operator. The stock is tracked by location and operator, and you never lose track of it.

7.      The paperwork is reduced to only needing the purchase order number, and the paperless warehouse transmits all the required data through the warehouse management systems.

The smart mobile scanner workflow eliminates paper shuffling, ticks, and scribbled counts and lets you efficiently receive and store the stock. In addition, the items during receipt are automatically correctly identified for each item and the related purchase order.

Immediately Ready for Despatch

The paperless warehouse environment means the stock is available in your business system to fulfil orders and can be picked up as soon as you put it away.

When starting a warehouse project, look at both sides of the efficiency criteria. The warehouse layout and mobile scanning for effective stock management. Bowen Storage can assist you to design a layout that will complement your paperless warehouse environment.

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