Warehouse Challenges and Automated Solutions

Warehouse Challenges and Automated Solutions

A warehouse management system's (WMS) main goal is to make sure that materials and goods are moved through warehouses accurately and as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. A WMS handles many functions that enable these movements, including inventory tracking, picking, receiving, and put away. By monitoring inventory and ensuring that items are correctly sorted, stored, dispatched, and tracked, a WMS plays a crucial role in ensuring that operations run smoothly.

But what happens when issues with warehouse management turn into significant barriers to the production and efficiency of the warehouses, upsetting the entire workflow?

Let's review three major issues facing warehouse managers today and the technological solutions available to address them.

Employee Shortages   

Many companies cannot find the skilled workers that are required for the job and perspective employees today see warehouse work as mundane and uninspiring. Not having the resources needed to complete warehouse tasks can lead to increased costs, errors, and poor customer satisfaction.

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution utilizing a WMS leverages mobile devices (similar to cell phones) that have been designed to make transaction processing in a warehouse lighter, easier, and faster. By leveraging the enhanced touchscreen display on the mobile device, for example, data can be presented in a clear, concise, easy-to-read format that reduces training time and speeds up operations.

Most people know how to use a mobile device, so this allows companies to bring warehouse employees up to speed quickly, and train seasonal workers when needed. Technology also drives efficiency, allowing companies to process more transactions with fewer people, especially critical when faced with staffing shortages.

Worker Safety in the Warehouse

For sustainable warehouse operations, health and safety should be prioritized as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that the fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average of 16 fatalities every year in the U.S. warehousing and storage sector and a reported injury and illness rate of 5 out of every 100 warehouse and storage workers.

A good WMS deals with integrating warehouse automation systems such as conveyors and robotics that assists in increased productivity and worker safety by not requiring workers to deal in situations where their safety could be compromised. The automation is set up to assist warehouse workers in completing several activities concurrently, minimizing the number of repetitive picking rounds and facilitating smooth operations afterward.

The rules and guidelines governing warehouse safety, such as those pertaining to quality, security, health, and the environment, can also be fulfilled with the aid of a WMS, which can give authorized parties access to and audit trails for pertinent data, documents, and records, as well as store and update them. The regulations and guidelines that pertain to the warehouse, such as those regarding waste management, personal protective equipment, and fire prevention, can also be enforced by a WMS.

Identifying Inefficiencies, Streamlining Processes, and Optimizing Space

A WMS provides businesses with analytics and data that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can use to identify inefficiencies and streamline processes. Using this data to evaluate worker productivity and inventory levels can help businesses function better.

Analytics and AI are playing a significant role in warehouse management today. A poorly configured warehouse can slow throughput and lead to shipping errors. AI can review product movement and make recommendations for optimal product placement so that warehouses can utilize their floor and vertical space better to optimize efficiencies and increase throughput.

A WMS can recommend the optimum methods for organizing, restocking, and storing items based on an analysis of their demand, volume, and frequency. This can lessen the need for handling, stacking, or moving items excessively or needlessly and avoid clogs, congestion, and obstructions in the aisles or zones.

Warehouse staff may spend more time completing tasks and less time hunting for products if they can easily manage inventory and identify items. Using labor projections and floor simulators, a modern WMS can ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time and that the warehouse layout is as efficient as possible.

In conclusion, having a firm grip over its stock and inventory is essential for any company looking to expand. Any successful business is built on an effective warehouse operation, which enables you to manage your inventory, process orders promptly and effectively, and control costs. All these tasks can be facilitated with an effective WMS.

Gina Parry

National Account Manager