An important part of warehouse management that’s often overlooked in the quest for process improvement is picking and packing. Yet if you think about it, even a half percent (0.05%!) of mistakes in picking can lead to money lost processing returns, productivity, and dissatisfied customers.
To advance your distribution center and warehouse management system, include picking and packing in the list of areas to monitor. Then, take the following steps to seamless picking and packing.
- Review return data: Go through data on returned orders. One sign that there’s a problem in the picking and packing system is a high number of items returned for incorrect products or reports of incomplete orders. Reports from a business intelligence, ERP, or WMS can help you pinpoint if those orders occurred during a specific time period or with specific teams. Allowing you to narrow it down to the individual level.
- Examine existing processes: When was the last time you reviewed and updated warehouse processes for picking and packing? What if you don’t even have a written process? Then it’s time to build one. Dust off the process manual and review the steps in the picking and packing process. They should be updated, which is, reflecting the steps that staff currently take or the ideal steps that you’d like them to take.
- Check for discrepancies: If the process you’ve outlined differs from what’s occurring in the warehouse, find out why. Your warehouse staff may have discovered shortcuts or better ways of handling picking and packing. Conversely, their way may not be as efficient as the methods outlined in your process. You’ll need to do some digging to determine which of these scenarios is accurate.
- Invite comments and feedback: Don’t be afraid to invite the warehouse team’s comments, feedback, and suggestions. A good way to do this is to host a roundtable luncheon where the company provides food to create an informal atmosphere. Allow people to open up and share thoughts for improving the process.
- Hold contests: If you can monitor data on picking and packing, hold a contest to see which team can generate the lowest number of order mistakes. Give a special prize to the team with zero mistakes per month. Software that tracks return data can help you set the parameters for a contest. Monitor metrics such as returns for incorrect or incomplete orders, which leads straight back to the picking and packing process.
One area of particular concern in some warehouses is counting out small items. Small items can be the most troublesome in the picking and packing process since they are easily dropped, miscounted, or missed during scanning. Consider hosting some additional training sessions with your team on handling small items. Having a team pick and pack many small items can help too, with one person picking and the other person double checking the pick, then recounting it at the packing station.
It’s rarely a big mistake that hurts a company’s profits. Often, it’s many small things that add up to a financial loss, a slow bleed of money that eventually weaken the company's revenues. Prevent losses in picking and packing by making sure your warehouse management systems are up to date, ready to tackle any size order at any time.
BAASS Business Solutions
For great warehouse management systems, contact BAASS Business Solutions. We have the insight and advice on adding warehouse management systems to your software and can also assist you with BI, ERP, CRM and many other business productivity tools. Contact us for more information or call 1-888-650-5544.