Customer expectations regarding order accuracy and delivery times are high, and meeting these expectations puts pressure on warehouse managers. Smart systems and logistics technology can help.
Integrated warehouse management systems (WMS) could streamline every aspect of warehouse transportation, from having staff ready in the receiving bay when a delivery arrives to selecting a distribution route for packed orders.
Warehouses can maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction by focusing their transportation operation improvement efforts on specific pain points.
An optimized warehouse transportation system could acquire and manage information about stock availability, delivery times, supply shortages, and other data critical to serving customers. Some systems integrate chatbots that could give customers information in real-time about when to expect their shipments.
If a warehouse has multiple docks, scheduling multiple shipments to arrive at once can reduce labor costs and enhance efficiency. When possible, utilizing cross-docking to move product from an inbound vehicle directly to an outbound vehicle avoids put-away and storage time costs.
Incoming shipment tracking systems maximize efficiency in receiving orders as the system communicates with the delivery truck to give an accurate arrival time. Access to this information allows warehouse managers to deploy workers more effectively, speeding up the unloading and put-away processes. Advanced shipping notifications can reduce labor and transport costs.
An effective warehouse transportation system keeps track of stock as it moves in and out of the facility and can flag low-stock items for reordering. Some systems can even accomplish the reordering automatically.
Automated warehouse transportation systems can maximize warehouse floor space and plan item rotation to ensure customers receive their items in good condition, minimizing returns. Some automated warehouse transportation systems could pick, pack, and deliver orders to the loading dock.
A WMS provides reams of data that management can use to streamline their operations and maximize efficient use of labor, equipment, and materials. Warehouse managers should continuously review this data and tease out its implications for overall operations.
The larger the operation, the more essential it is to have staff dedicated to retrieving and interpreting management system data. The team should investigate any reported glitches to identify and eliminate the problem as quickly as possible.
Management should consider every touch and movement of an item to determine whether it was necessary or an indication of an inefficient process. Keeping movement and touches to the bare minimum is a hallmark of a lean and efficient warehouse operation.
Researching, purchasing, implementing, and learning to use a warehouse management system that optimizes transportation operations could be infeasible for small to mid-size warehouses and distribution centers. Teaming up with a third-party logistics provider could allow the operation to access process improvements without a significant initial investment.
A 3PL provider offers scalable technology combined with real-world human expertise. If you are looking for ways to optimize your warehouse transportation operations, the best option could be to turn them over to a 3PL provider.