Deciding when to automate is a big task so it’s a good idea to first understand why you might choose to automate your warehouse at all. A survey by Logistics Viewpoints recently showed that 21% of respondents credit warehouse technology for improved performance. We've put together a list of reasons for choosing automation below and if you find yourself checking a few of them off, then it’s probably time to get automated.
1. You’re outgrowing your paper system
A manual warehouse using paper for most of its processes is fine when you’re starting out. It’s the first stepping stone towards growing as a business overall, but there will come a point when the paper system simply can’t keep up with your business model any longer. This may be that you’re receiving more orders now, or that you’re spending too much money and time on labour.
By switching to an automated warehouse, tasks that normally take more than an hour to complete, such as reconciling a delivery note against what was actually delivered, can be done in minutes.
2. Your orders are increasing and you’re considering hiring new staff
If the number of orders you’re receiving is going up then that’s great - but hiring new staff will take more away from your company than it will add. Yes, you’ll have more workers to pick, pack and despatch, but the additional labour will cost you more time and money, especially if training is required.
So what’s the alternative? By implementing a barcode scanning system, every process within the four walls of your warehouse can be completed much quicker. Manually counting stock at goods in? Barcode scanning accuracy eliminates the need for recounts. Visually identifying the correct item to pick among similar SKUs (Stock Keeping Units)? A quick scan of the barcode will tell you exactly which item to pick for every order. What’s more, a barcode system can increase the number of picks per hour per person to over 100.
[Related: Top 5 order picking mistakes Part 1]
3. You are doing too many oversells
Any number of oversells is, of course, too many, but if you’re overselling more than 1% of your total orders per day then you’re in trouble. Incorrect stock figures on the website or across marketplaces are the primary reason for overselling, and incorrect stock figures normally happen at goods in.
Warehouse staff are human and humans make mistakes. We forget whether we counted 45 or 46 skirts. We struggle to see the difference between a medium blue shirt and large blue shirt of the same design. These human errors are honest mistakes, but too many of them will wreak havoc in the long run. By barcode scanning at goods in you eliminate human error and can enjoy 100% accurate stock figures.
[Related: How to stop mispicks in eCommerce]
>> Save time and money spent on manual tasks
>> Pick orders fast without adding extra staff
>> Eliminate overselling
Unconvinced? We've got 4 more reasons to introduce warehouse automation here!
Author: Jess Lawrence