Getting budget approvals for warehouse management improvements can be quite a challenge. The goods in the warehouse or distribution center drive the company’s profits, and no manager wants to say that their operation is in some way lacking or deficient. However, all operations can be improved and made more productive with just a few tweaks and a small investment. Selling the powers-that-be on pick-to-light systems isn’t easy, but for anyone who has to manage incoming and outgoing inventory, putting a system in place really isn’t all that difficult. These ten tips will help increase warehouse productivity – all the way from receiving to the shipping dock.
1. Streamline Receiving
Make the receiving process in your supply chain more orderly with pick-to-light systems, allowing receiving to bring in, quality control, enter into inventory under the correct SKUs, and then put away. Think of it as order fulfillment going backward and instead of picking to light, warehouse staff puts to light. Now, the right inventory is stored in the correct location, which can help prevent future mispicks.
2. Process Returns Quickly
Put-to-light can be used to process returns quickly – getting them back on the shelf and ready to be picked for a new order.
3. Get Your Zones in Order
Save time by picking e-commerce orders and kitting parts faster and more accurately. Zone picking is efficient and allows pickers to memorize the SKUs in a zone, therefore, increasing both the pick rate and speed. Faster order picking means faster fulfillment and happy customers.
4. Create a “Hot Picks” Area
Twenty percent of products often account for eighty percent of revenue. Creating a kiosk or aisle for the top 100 top-selling products can boost your efficiency. The combination of batch picking and a Hot Picks area can help you fill orders quickly by concentrating the best movers and a pick team in a single location or zone.
5. Pick-to-Light Carts + Shelf Lights
Pick-to-light carts and pick to light devices on the shelves can deliver a one-two punch to a lagging pick rate. Slow order picking can come from any number of causes, but eliminating “I can’t find it” and “I didn’t see that line item” can make sure that they can find it and do see the line item in more than one way.
6. Manage Your Case Picking
Carton flow racks can benefit from using PTL to manage case picking and pallet fills. Moving down the aisles of cased goods with a pallet jack or forklift using a PTL device gives both directions and SKU information, while the devices deployed on the flow racks flash to indicate that they are waiting for an order to be placed. Nothing could be clearer!
7. Make Packing Faster
Pick to light does not stop at the picking shelves, but can also be used to speed up the next stage in the order fulfillment process- packing or assembly. Once the pickers leave the loaded cart at the staging area, the cart can be passed to a packer or assembler for boxing or kitting. This ensures a flow of work for every available staff member, and the boxed or assembled goods can then be transferred, using the same technology, to shipping.
8. Get it on the Truck!
Once the order has been boxed, it’s time to get it on the truck. A shipper can take the cart from packing to shipping, enter weight and dimensions and select a shipper all from the instructions on the pick to light device.
9. Restock and Sort Faster
Order canceled? Returns of goods from refused orders or defective items? Check items in and get them back in stock or sorted to return to the vendor using put-to-light technology. Restocking and returns processing impact the bottom line just as much as shipping, receiving, and other order fulfillment operations.
The linchpin of any business is clear and concise communications. In a loud and busy warehouse, intercom or radio might get drowned out, but a wireless pick to light devices shines out as clear as day with two custom lines of text.
As the next-generation of wireless pick-to-light devices become more familiar, organizations will find more ways to use them. Far from simply picking and putting away, these devices can be used on pick carts, pallet jacks, forklifts, in case picking and pallet-packing, and a number of ways that are unique to each organization.