Warehouse Shipping Automation

With the ongoing labor constraints and companies continually seeking various ways to implement automation to reduce their demand for labor, warehouse automation and technology has become more prevalent. 

One of the first areas that companies typically automate is their shipping department.  Shipping automation eliminates manual functions beginning in packing, all the way until packages are sorted down to the correct outbound lane, pallet, or truck. 

Shipping automation is also one of the first areas to be looked at since it can be justified from a cost standpoint by a wide range of companies – even those shipping as few as 1,500 to 2,000 shipments per day. 

It is not uncommon to see companies where the packer and/or shipper is responsible for selecting the proper shipping carton size, packing the items, inserting dunnage as well as packing slips and additional information, sealing the carton, weighing it, and applying a shipping label.  Typically, these tasks can add significant time to the overall pack-out and shipping process which increases the need for labor and drives up costs. Shipping automation can alleviate most of these steps. 

 

Related: Applying Automation and Material Handling Solutions to Automation

 

With shipping automation, companies can remove these manual steps – and at times, do it in phases as well.  Shipping automation usually consists of the following capabilities which can be implemented at the same time, or in a phased approach over time. 

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15 Fundamentals Every Distribution Center Should Master

Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers' legendary coach, excelled at winning football games because his teams mastered and executed the fundamentals of blocking, tackling, and passing and leading to the win.  Warehousing and distribution is very much the same, to be successful, we must execute on the fundamentals.  

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How To Assess Your Ecommerce Warehouse Dock-to-Stock Efficiency

Dock to Stock time is a KPI that measures the length of time from when a receipt lands on your dock until it is in a pickable (or bulk reserve) location. From an efficiency perspective, best-in-class companies achieve “dock to stock” in two to eight hours.  To help achieve this quick dock to stock time, larger e-commerce companies, retailers, and multichannel merchants generally implement EDI technology solutions and vendor compliance policies.  

This dramatically reduces manual effort, paperwork errors and allows for faster put-away. Because EDI integrates to the ERP and accounting back-office systems, it also provides a transparent system of record rather than different views of data in different systems.  An additional benefit is that merchant companies can resolve issues on an exception basis, this greatly reduces the total processing cost to companies.

In comparison, many small to moderate-sized businesses dock-to-stock may average 24 to 72 hours (or even longer) to clear receipts.  With dock to stock time, turnaround time is only one factor to evaluate.  Some receipts may sit for days awaiting resolution by the buyer and the vendor - or for some necessary rework in the warehouse.  This entire time, the merchandise is not available for sale. There is a very real cost your company absorbs in the warehouse, accounting, and purchasing (or buying) departments from these potential problems.

This article explains how to:

  • Assess the dock-to-stock processes for improvement. 
  • Identify problems in receiving through put-away. 
  • Determine the costs of correcting vendor problems. 
  • Propose solutions for process improvement.  

The dock-to-stock process involves aspects of the purchase order writing process; inbound transportation; dock receiving, staging, inspection, and put away.      

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How To Assess If An Existing Warehouse Works For Your Business

You are running out of fulfillment center space to meet your company’s strategic plan for storage, shipping, and returns processing.  As Director of Fulfillment, you have been assigned the project of finding warehouse space that will meet the company’s logistics requirements for the next 3 to 5 years.  But if you have never been tasked with evaluating new facilities, this can be a stressful undertaking. Below is a checklist of the major requirements you need to consider in evaluating an existing facility for use as a fulfillment and distribution center.

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5 Factors To Understand Before Implementing Warehouse Automation

As you consider evaluating and deploying automation and robotics to your warehousing and distribution processes, there are five factors you must consider to be able to implement it in an efficient and cost-effective manner.  This article identifies the analyses that should be done, before making decisions on deploying automation. 

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8 Point Checklist to Improve Your Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Hardware Budget

When people plan budgets for a new WMS, two main areas that get initial budget attention are user licensing counts and costs and professional service fees.  Oftentimes people underestimate the equipment requirements, server capacity, and communication bandwidth.  You may find out the equipment required is larger and more complex to gain most of the functionality from the WMS and any add-on modules that you plan to implement.  

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11 Factors In Budgeting Add-On Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Modules

As you compare your WMS requirements against the detailed demo and presentations of a shortlist of vendors, it rapidly becomes obvious that selecting the most effective WMS is NOT a “one size fits all warehouses or businesses”.  The core system (often referred to as the base or vanilla system) will have certain functions that will personalize the WMS to your business through site-specific configurations at implementation time and without program changes.   Add-on modules are available to extend the core system with additional functions such as Labor Management (LMS), Slotting, Transportation Management  (TMS), automation, and other systems integrations, to name a few.  Large WMS users might have custom programming accessible from the WMS’ user library to provide specific functions not available in the core WMS.

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Micro Fulfillment Centers Deliver Ecommerce Orders At Reduced Costs and Within Hours

With labor expenses increasing, small parcel shipping becoming more expensive and carriers struggling to support the volumes, companies are implementing new strategies with Micro Fulfillment Centers (MFC).

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6 Ways to Combat Increasing Labor Costs

According to Indeed.com, the job employment website, the average base pay for warehouse workers is $16.78 in the U.S. However, when you factor in benefits such as healthcare, training and more – the fully loaded cost balloons to $28.86 per hour. Companies typically have the following costs over and above the base pay:

  • Benefits and healthcare 35% of payroll costs
  • Workers comp and unemployment 8% of payroll costs
  • Training 4% of payroll costs
  • Recruitment, hiring and HR 25% of payroll costs

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9 Ways Warehouse Management Systems Makes Your Operation More Efficient

An efficient warehouse maximizes its space use, streamlines operational functions, and increases employee productivity. A Warehouse Management System (WMS) standardizes and manages the four-wall activities and inventory management. When a warehouse is efficient, customers receive their orders on time, and the company's costs are in-line with management’s financial plan.

Below are nine major ways a WMS improves operations efficiency.

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