The flow of content:
For any warehouse, receiving the shipments is a primary activity and a full-time job for inventory managers. A high number of SKUs, fast-paced supply chains, and evolving market conditions have made it imperative to squeeze efficiency at each stage. In this article, we will discuss the fundamental aspects of receiving and putting away the inventory from suppliers. It will also encompass the best practices for your ready reference. You can implement these tips quickly through your warehouse management software.
Dive in deeper to learn more about the subject in these step-by-step guide to pre-receipt, receipt, offloading, put away, and cross-docking in the below sections:
Leverage Vendor Compliance Programs
You should treat vendor compliance programs as bilateral convenience tools. A good vendor compliance program optimizes transport, material handling, delivery, and storage. They are based on mutual convenience and outline all the processes involved in the transactions. Right from the shipping companies to delivery time and packaging, everything is put in black and white. This removes room for any guesswork and clearly defines the series of events. On an organizational level, both you and your vendors can optimize your respective operations.
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Most of the agreements made under these programs are related to quality assurance and supply chain management. They also include SOPs for executing each portion of the process to standardize operations. However, the aim of conducting such programs is not to regulate your vendors or shipping partners. They should be approached as instruments to reduce manual decision making and propel operations predictably. Hence, the resultant working partnerships are robust and help boost profitability on both ends. Continuous improvements, even in the smallest parts of the supply chain, have amplified benefits on your balance sheets. Take your vendors into confidence and strive to streamline tasks and add value to each transaction.
Include Metrics In Receiving Documentation
There are a lot of businesses that don’t have documented frameworks to carry out receiving. For instance, you should be able to estimate the required time for unloading a consignment by examining the content details. It shall also help determine the security personnel’s verification process, human resources required, and the time gap between two consecutive deliveries. You should also be able to estimate the safety measures needed.
All such metrics lay the foundation of pre-receipt activity documents. Measuring these activities with the help of parameters is the best way to keep operations safe and agile. This also saves your workforce from decision fatigue.
Make Provisions To Streamline Vendor And Shipper Documentation For Quick Data Transfer
This is a simple yet brilliant way of keeping things in order, predictable, and cut down the time required later in verification. All goods carried by the shipping firm should come with information in a format that aids quick data entry. It also includes a guideline on labeling in terms of information and labeling position. The packaging used, units per pack, packs per pallet, weight, dimensions, and handling instructions are also required.
Having all this information at your disposal is hugely beneficial to the warehouse operations. Your workers need not gather this data manually. They have to only verify the particulars, and thus, they can work faster. Transferring data accurately is as important as moving the goods. These documents lay the foundation for faster supply chains.
On the other hand, transparency can evolve as a pillar of efficiency in supply chains. The carrier’s route and progress data can help sustain any emergencies like breakdowns, accidents, or natural calamities. For example, the supplier or buyer of the cargo can help carrier trucks by providing roadside assistance. These provisions aid in managing problems through a flexible approach to execution and serve the broader interests of all stakeholders.
Labor Planning, Booking, And Equipment Distribution
Upon receiving the shipment, it is crucial to unload the consignment as soon as possible. The warehouse management needs to allocate the right number of workers and staff-hours to execute the unloading without steering away from schedules. Accordingly, allocate the workers and keep a tab on staff-hours. Labor is, by far, the most significant cost center in any warehouse.
Assign the shipments to the workers based on the cargo size and make sure that all of them are present at the time of unloading. Also, the material handling equipment is allocated concerning the dimensions and the weight of the cargo. Small yet basic operating principles like unloading entire pallets instead of unloading individual cartoons come a long way in raising efficiency. Also, they boost the speed of operations while making it easy for the workers to access the cargo. Booking and material handling equipment distribution go hands in hands to streamline unloading and further verification.
Product pick rate productivity can be improved by up to 50% by using pick-to-light systems.
Shipment Identification And Document Verification
As a rule of thumb, the process of shipment identification starts from the security gates. The next step is to assign a warehouse clerk to verify the transport documents and the shipment details. Before accepting the entry, checking the sender company’s letter is equally necessary. If required, additional communication is done before signing the arrival documents. The clerk has to compare the details in the shipping document against the order and proforma invoice. Thus, any discrepancy at the documentation level is identified right in the initial phase.
Counting The Products
Once the initial arrival documents are signed, the workers start unloading the shipment. Each pallet, crate, and cartoon are unloaded, and corresponding individual invoices are used to verify the product quantity. The discrepancies are first communicated with the purchase officer and subsequently with the company that sent the products. Each and every item is counted quickly with the help of support mechanisms. Methods like weighing can also be used for the items with standard weight per unit. As far as counting is concerned, procrastination is the biggest enemy of effectiveness. Stacking the goods directly onto the shelves is the most common reason behind the problems caused later. To overcome it, developing protocols is a must.
Market Stat: 9% of the distribution centers only deal in full pallet orders.
Product Inspection And Acceptance Documentation
The quality assurance team then checks the items for quality and usability as defined by the purchase departments. They also take into account any allowable damages as agreed with the carrier and sending organization. Usually, such terms are agreed upon when the goods are sensitive to time, temperature, lighting, and travel conditions.
The counting process is done under video surveillance, and barcodes are used to rev up the process. In some cases, like turbine blades and large mechanical parts like valves, coordinate measuring systems are also used. Unlabeled stock is separated as soon as detected so that it doesn’t slow down the entire process.
After the inspection for agreed quantity, quality, and usability standards, the final acceptance documents are signed by the clerk overlooking the delivery. The comments regarding acceptance and carrier ratings are made after completion of these processes.
Enter The List Of Received Items In Your Warehouse Management System
The next step is to enter the list of all received items in your warehouse management system. It also provides the list of available Many times; your company uses different stock keeping units as compared to the ones mentioned on the labels. They may serve operational benefits while using the same SKUs wouldn’t be possible for your suppliers. In such cases, make it a point to enlist those items separately in your software to avoid any mishaps.
Your system will also generate the list of empty bins for allocating the newly arrived stocks. You should always replace the labels in parallel with the above-mentioned step to safeguard against identification errors that may arise later. The discrepancies raised by inventory clerks are also processed at this stage, and a report is sent to the supplier regarding the same. The missed items are queued in the next delivery schedule so that there are no long term lags in the fulfillment of orders.
Re-Label And Stack The Received Goods
The entire inventory inside your warehouse should have the same labels, and incoming inventory is no exception to it. You can decide whether to remove the old labels as per your business conditions. But, labeling them again is a must to ensure seamless productivity and lesser confusion among your workers. The goods are either stacked at temporary bins or directly transferred to the source location.
Cross-Docking: Redefining Warehouse Handling Processes
E-commerce and omnichannel sales are redefining the very basics of conventional warehouse management. Cross-docking is fast becoming a norm in the industry, and accommodating it is a must for any business. It saves you a lot of man-hours involved apart from the real estate required. It bypasses the activities of sorting, storing, and packing to minimize the costs. However, it will demand more attention in the product counting and the verification process. Cross-docking is one of the pillars of agile supply chain strategies.
Best Practices For Receiving & Put Away
Some of the operating strategies are suitable to all warehouse types and product volumes. We shall have a look at them in the form of best practices that apply to all businesses:
- Always operate through vendor compliance programs
- Lay emphasis on simultaneous scheduling and planning
- Leverage from modern technologies like contactless verification tools
- Integrate your warehouse management system with carrier’s systems
- Minimize physical contacts and analyze each contact as a transaction
- Ensure multi-channel communication with the shipping partner and supplier
- Align your inventory cycle count with the receiving and put-away processes
- Take proper advantage of dynamic slotting and cross-docking
Receiving and Put Away are fundamental yet crucial aspects of stock movement in warehouses. In this article, we have discussed the ideal approaches at each stage of moving inventory from unloading to stacking. We have also understood the technicalities along with the best practices to ensure maximum benefits for our readers. The author hopes that you may find this article resourceful enough to implement these tips in your warehousing operations.
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