If you haven’t automated a good percentage of your business operations, your warehouse is likely home to its fair share of repetitive, laborious, and time-consuming tasks. And that means neither your team nor your operations could be functioning as optimally as they should.
Automating your warehouse processes can unlock all sorts of different benefits to improve the efficiency of your business as a whole. Over the course of this article, we’ll look at which processes can be improved through automation, the benefits they bring, and how automated business rules and workflows can positively affect the efficiency of your operation.
Which routine warehouse processes can be automated?
Order processing can be particularly draining on time and resources. Rather than having your team search for SKUs, group them together and then packing them, automating the process speeds things up considerably.
Take our Intact iQ software. It can pick multiple orders at once, and benefit from additional intelligence such as routes and customer location, along with automation rules – both of which create a far more efficient way of picking orders.
Movement of goods
Transporting goods around your warehouse is another time-intensive process, reducing your team’s ability to focus on more valuable tasks. However, a number of different automated transportation solutions can take care of things for them instead.
Pallet conveyor systems and roller conveyors for boxes, totes, and bins, for instance, can connect particular areas of your warehouse together in ways that make more logistical sense – such as linking the packing zone with the dispatch area – without the need for workers to be on their feet as much.
Warehouse management may be a broader term compared to the other, more specific processes we’ve listed here, but it’s an essential part of your operations, nevertheless. And without warehouse management software, you could really struggle to keep things running smoothly.
Equipped with it, however, and you’ll be able to oversee your inventory, incomings and outgoings, and activity of current machinery.
A team that’s tied up dealing with requests is not improving your warehouse’s efficiency. With the right software, on the other hand, it’s possible to implement a Returned Merchandise Authorisation (RMA) process, as well as a credit request process. This ensures that any stock that’s not fit for sale remains accounted for and in the system.
Loading and unloading
Consider the entrances and exits of your warehouse. There’s a good chance that these areas are among its busiest. To reduce human activity, you might want to look at putting automatic truck loading and unloading systems in place. Doing so makes the loading and unloading of goods a far quicker process, cutting down on potential safety issues along the way too.
How can automation benefit your warehouse processes?
Manual processes often leave themselves open to human error, which can end up costing you in a number of different ways. Automating your operations, however, can bring about the following benefits:
When you’re not having to juggle with repetitive tasks, your team are free to focus on more high-value duties throughout the day. Carrying out work that’s more engaging allows them to better involve themselves in their roles, which contributes to greater productivity.
Greater warehouse efficiency
Business systems and/or warehouse management software packages help you to identify pain points that you can address immediately. Whether it’s the average length of time it takes to pick an order, the items which aren’t selling, or workers that might need some extra training, highlighting these areas means greater efficiency and performance in the long run.
Improved inventory visibility
The data provided by automated inventory management gives you the ability to track your stock with greater speed and efficiency. More importantly, it minimises the number of mistakes that come with manual inventory management.
This has the added benefit of improving customer service. Combined with automated picking – which can fulfil orders far quicker – or real-time order tracking, it’s possible to greatly reduce the sales cycle and improve retention rates; both of which have a positive effect on customer satisfaction.
More effective use of warehouse space
With a greater view of moving products and those which are simply keeping your shelves warm, you can more readily put your warehouse’s space to greater use. Through warehouse management software, you can then assign every product a specific location and bin number in the warehouse, based on the size of the bins and the amount of product you have in the facility.
For instance, unpopular inventory can be kept on higher shelves, while more popular items can be stored on lower shelves located near the shipping area. And by increasing the capacity of your facility, you can then use the space in more productive ways.
What are the cost benefits of an automated warehouse?
Another benefit of automating your warehouse is the potential to reduce operational costs.
But how exactly does it do this? Consider that in 2020, it was estimated that the average picking error costs a company as much as €100. Given that automation greatly reduces the number of human errors, it follows that the costs that come with them are minimised accordingly too.
Likewise, since your workers are able to spend time on more important tasks, there’s no need to hire more people – even as productivity increases. It costs somewhere in the region €3,500 to hire a new employee; a business can massively keep its costs down by going down the automation route rather than relying on the manual methods that they’ve become accustomed to.
Setting controls for efficient workflows
The right automation software gives businesses the ability to take everyday business tasks and processes and make them more accurate, efficient, and quicker. This is carried out by ensuring core business rules, processes and actions are followed via the set-up of automated triggers connected to certain actions that take place across your business. What’s more, this can be customised for individuals, roles, departments, or whole organisations.
Bring your warehouse into the future. Intact iQ’s flexible business management software can get your warehouse operating at its best, capabilities create a range of solutions for now and the foreseeable. To find out how, head here for more information or get in touch with us today.