As a crucial part of your supply chain, warehouse logistics is a critical concern for your business. It involves figuring out how to properly store your goods in warehouses so they’re ready for transportation to the customer. This article examines warehouse logistics in detail and discusses the devices and software you’ll use for this vital process.
- What is Warehouse Logistics?
- Incoming Warehousing Logistics
- Outgoing Warehousing Logistics
- Warehousing Logistics Tips
- The Top 10 Warehouse Logistics Devices
- Speak to a Warehousing Expert
What Is Warehouse Logistics?
Logistics in business refers to the flow of physical goods and information throughout your company. In a warehousing context, logistics covers the organization, movement, and management of physical inventory. Several actions fall under the warehouse logistics banner, including shipping and receiving inventory, time management, and maintaining appropriate storage conditions for your goods.
Beyond this, warehouse logistics covers how you manage the space itself. For example, any pest or temperature control measures you implement in your warehouse are part of the facility’s logistical processes. So too are your safety policies and how you manage customer returns. As such, we can see warehouse logistics as a collective term for the policies, tools, processes, and software you use to manage how goods flow in and out of your warehouses.
Incoming Warehousing Logistics
Your business needs to have processes in place that determine how it handles and stores the goods it receives from vendors. These processes fall under the incoming warehouse logistics banner. You need to know how you’ll receive, unload, and store the items in your warehouse, so they’re ready to ship to customers.
Having good incoming warehouse logistics processes aid you in inventory management and make it easier for you to fulfill customer orders efficiently. Having poor processes leads to delays, which affect your end customer.
The standard incoming warehouse logistics process has four steps:
Complete Pre-Receiving Tasks
Pre-receiving covers all of the tasks you complete before receiving your goods. If your company operates its own warehouse, these tasks include deciding how much of each item you need and how many containers you intend to receive. You’ll also work out the packaging requirements for each container, such as whether to use special storage materials and how to label your products to ensure they suit your processes.
Some businesses work with third-party companies for warehousing. In these cases, you must understand the other company’s requirements for receiving goods to ensure your vendor meets said requirements.
Several tools and pieces of software can help with this step, the most vital being your warehouse management system (WMS). This system acts as a catalog for your inventory. You’ll likely complete a Warehouse Receiving Order (WRO), complete with a barcode, that allows you to scan the inventory you’ll receive directly into your WMS.
Receive and Unload Your Items
With the pre-receiving tasks complete, your next job is to receive the items. Typically, this involves ensuring your warehouse receiving crew is on hand to meet the deliverers and unload the cargo. If the deliverers don’t come directly to your warehouse, you also have to consider how you’ll transport the shipment to your facility.
The size and weight of the cargo matter. Heavier cargo may require special equipment, such as pallet jacks and forklifts. You may also need trucks and knowledge of how to fill those trucks properly if you’re transporting the cargo yourself.
Conduct an Inventory Check
Always check the inventory before you store it in your warehouse. This checking process includes confirming you’ve received the number of goods expected, that they’re sealed properly, and that the product codes match those you expect to receive.
All of this factors into stock counting, which influences how much cargo you can store in your warehouse. It’s also crucial that you check the condition of the received cargo to ensure you don’t end up selling goods that aren’t in good working order.
Organize and Store Your Products
Every business has its own processes for organizing and storing its cargo. Still, the general process involves storing the items on a palette, shelf, or bin, depending on their sizes. Filing the products may include assigning a unique code to each item, which you can scan using your WMS to track inventory numbers.
Whatever your process may be, the key is that it simplifies storing and accessing your goods. The latter is essential for fast-paced e-commerce businesses, which need to have the ability to pick and ship goods quickly.
Outgoing Warehousing Logistics
As the name implies, outgoing warehousing logistics is all about the processes used to send goods out of your warehouse and to the customer. It usually has a five-step process, though it may vary depending on your business.
Process an Order
Once you receive an order via phone or your website, the order is processed via your WMS. The WMS should then push that order into a queue for picking. Depending on your WMS and shipping policies, you may have a dynamic order queue that updates constantly or print off a static order sheet for the entire day.
Pick and Pack the Product
Your warehouse crew picks and prepares orders based on what’s on the packing list. With each order picked, the crewmember uses a scanner that relays information to the WMS. This information includes the product’s unique code, which the WMS uses to calculate inventory levels in real time.
Once picked, your crewmember packs the product, labels it, and sorts it based on where it needs to go.
Deliver the Order to a Distribution Center
If your delivery drivers pick up orders directly from your warehouse, you don’t need this step.
Otherwise, you’ll have carriers who pick up a large collection of orders, which they deliver to the appropriate distribution center. You’ll likely have an incoming warehousing logistics process in place for that center, though that process focuses more on getting the order back out the door than it does on storing the received goods.
Have a Delivery Driver Pick Up the Order
Drivers arrive at your distribution center to pick up the orders. Again, you’ll likely have a WMS within the distribution center, along with scanners, that allow you to track what’s coming in and when it goes out in real time.
Deliver the Order
Once the driver receives the order, they deliver it to its destination.
The tools you use here vary depending on whether you handle deliveries in-house or outsource them to a third-party delivery company. In the latter case, the third-party company should have tracking tools that allow your customers to check the delivery status of their orders. If you handle deliveries in-house, you’ll need tools that relay this information to the consumer.
Warehousing Logistics Tips
With so many components to consider, warehousing logistics gets complicated. You have to think about the systems and tools you have in place, how you’ll manage your people, and what needs to happen to move cargo from one location to another. Any broken link in that chain creates delays, which run down the chain to affect everybody from your warehouse personnel to your end customer.
These quick tips help you develop a smooth warehousing logistics process, ensuring there’s less chance of delays occurring that could affect your bottom line:
- Plan the layout of your warehouse so that cargo can move through efficiently. Focus on your most popular and bestselling items by ensuring these are stored in locations where they’re easy to access and pick. Furthermore, ensure your crew has the equipment they need; this ranges from what they need to physically pick items, such as forklifts and dollies, to the scanners and software used to track your inventory.
- Always implement a WMS to help you track inventory. Trying to track manually takes time and creates a higher possibility of human error. These errors can lead to missed shipments, accepting the wrong cargo, or shipping too much to a delivery center. A WMS automates several processes related to inventory management, ensuring more accuracy in your logistical processes.
- Safety is critical in warehousing logistics for several reasons. Of course, you need to meet all health and safety standards set on both the federal and statewide levels. But on the more business-oriented side of things, high safety standards protect workers so they miss fewer days due to injuries. Appropriate training programs, combined with the equipment needed to pick heavy items properly, both help in this area.
- Use cross-docking whenever it’s a possibility. This process involves transferring goods between trucks rather than offloading them into a warehouse for a delivery driver to pick up. You may be able to use cross-docking if the order you’re set to receive has to go straight to a single customer.
- One of the keys to running a successful warehouse is getting rid of non-sellers to make space for products that are popular with consumers. Items that don’t sell take up valuable space. Use your WMS to figure out what these items are so you can take steps to get rid of them, whether that be through sales or writing off the items as unsold goods.
The Top 10 Warehouse Logistics Devices
The devices your business uses in its warehouses help to automate time-consuming processes, making your logistical processes more efficient. Here are 10 warehouse logistics devices your business can use to improve warehousing.
- DT Research DT301Y 10-Inch Tablet – A rugged tablet computer you can transfer from warehouse to warehouse to access your warehouse’s WMS.
- Honeywell CT60 – This mobile computer incorporates 1D and 2D scanning, in addition to being able to scan barcodes on product labels.
- Honeywell RT10A – This tablet computer has integrated FlexRange technology that allows users to scan barcodes from a distance of up to 35 feet.
- DT Research DT362GL 6-Inch Handheld – This device brings all your handheld computing needs under one roof. It can also come with an optional integrated scanner.
- Zebra TC52 – With its integrated barcode scanner, this is another great handheld device your warehouse crew can use to send data to your WMS.
- Janam XG200 – This tool tracking system helps you to manage stock and assets, which makes it useful for product audits.
- DT Research DT382GL 8-Inch Tablet – Another tablet from DT Research, this one is HERO-certified and offers seamless information capture.
- Zebra DS3608-ER – This scanner comes in both corded and cordless varieties. It features BlueTooth 4.0 technology and 1D / 2D scanning.
- Janam XT Series – In addition to being a handheld touch computer, the Janam XT series uses RFID technology to allow scanning from up to 22 feet away.
- Zebra DS3508-ER – Similar to Zebra’s DS3608-ER, this device offers 1D and 2D scanning. However, it uses an older version of BlueTooth and isn’t Wi-Fi-compatible.
If you have questions about any of these devices, an Energy Electronics consultant is only a phone call or an email away. Get in touch if you need to know more about how these devices help with warehousing logistics.
The Top Five Warehouse Logistics Software
Software is just as important as the devices you use for warehouse logistics. A good WMS can make all the difference when improving efficiency. Here are five of the best software packages for warehousing logistics:
- Honeywell Momentum Warehouse Management System
- Oracle Warehouse Management
- NetSuite Warehouse Management System
- Fishbowl Inventory
Each of these systems automates processes within your warehouse so you can manage inventory more effectively. Again, an Energy Electronics consultant is always available to help you choose the right software for warehousing.
Talk to an Energy Electronics Warehousing Consultant
With so many processes to consider, warehouse logistics can be a huge time and money sink for your business. You can mitigate the time and cost factors with a combination of good tools, effective software, and intelligent processes.
Managing your ingoing and outgoing inventory is critical, with steps needing to be in place for both to ensure inventory flows in and out of your warehouse properly. Beyond that, implementing the appropriate tools and software helps the logistical process.
If you have any questions about what your business can do to improve warehousing logistics or wish to discuss any of the technologies mentioned in this article, contact an Energy Electronic consultant today. Our offices are open Monday to Friday between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm, and you can contact us by phone at (203) 439-5900. Alternatively, contact us using the form below, and a consultant will be in touch to discuss your needs.