When manufacturers don’t have full visibility to their inventory, they face the problems of either running out of stock at the wrong time or carrying too much stock, thus decreasing cash flow while increasing expenses for extra warehouse materials. Many experts believe that of the two challenges, inventory shortage is the one to be most concerned with, as it can lead to unfulfilled orders and unhappy customers.

Further, lack of inventory oversight can cause a buildup of inefficiencies within the warehouse which slows operations and increases costs; without adequate insight into location, pickers take longer to find the items to ship, which slows the loading process and creates a backup in labor allocation and “dock-door” scheduling. Into this foray have come redundant processes such as barcode technology, which can reduce or eliminate the problem of a “pick ticket” or other documentation having to pass through multiple hands – for example, a picker, checker, stager or loader.

To this end, we’ve put together the top warehouse inefficiencies to address in 2018, taking into consideration the elements touched on above, all while making a case for warehouse environment solutions such as barcode scanners.

Eliminate Overstocking

Overstocking occurs when warehouse managers lack confidence in their inventory management system, leading to extra inventory being brought in to account for the “iffy” stock levels. This whole process is often attributed to manual warehouse tracking, but can be eliminated by implementing an automated process such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS) via mobile computers. An automated system makes it easier to maintain accurate inventory counts eliminating the need to overstock. Reducing inventory also frees up working capital.

Reduce Mis-Picks and Mis-Ships

Also associated with a manual inventory process, a mis-pick is a totally human characteristic, as it’s not difficult to select the wrong item from the warehouse shelf when filling paper-based orders. Because the cost of mis-picks can add up over time and become expensive for a company, an automated inventory system that leverages barcode scanners can ensure mis-picks and mis-ships are significantly reduced. When using barcode scanners, pickers are instantly alerted when a scanned pick doesn’t match the order being picked.

Reduce Cycle and Inventory Count Errors

The purpose of cycle and inventory counts is to maintain accurate inventory records, but there are two primary downsides to manual inventory counts: They’re inaccurate and very time-consuming. A warehouse management system using barcode scanners ultimately creates significantly more accurate inventory levels when compared to a manual process. Mobile computers also significantly speed up counts so it’s more feasible to do counts more often, if required, which also help maintain more accurate inventory records.

Reduce Time to Pick Orders

When a warehouse is based entirely on manual processes, a lot of time is spent moving around the warehouse to pick items, with even more time spent trying to locate misplaced items. Automating order picking can include directed picks, wherein the optimal order of picking items from the warehouse is automatically determined by the warehouse management system. Automating order picking is an easy way to help make warehouse pickers more productive.

Reduce the Time and Errors Associated with Receiving Inventory

As you should have garnered by now, manually processing incoming inventory is both time-consuming and prone to errors. Counting, verifying and reconciling incoming inventory requires a receiver to cross-check between purchase orders, packing slips and the actual items received – and that’s just the beginning of a somewhat tedious process. Receiving a shipment using mobile computers (i.e. barcode scanners) coupled with a WMS enables a receiver to select the associated purchase order on the handheld device and begin scanning items; the items are automatically entered into the inventory management system, where a report is automatically generated to identify missed or incorrect items.

In addressing these warehouse inefficiencies, it should be noted that investing in a solution like a barcode system will pay for itself in the reduction of hours and errors associated with manual inventory processing.