Picking it up
By Mr. B. Balasubramanian
Due to the highly visible nature of warehousing services, improvements in the sector must be swift and faultless. To upgrade warehouse performance, it is essential to narrow the focus down to three key points that essentially boost the overall efficiency.
1- SLA Adherence
The ultimate objective of any warehouse is to fulfil customer orders within the agreed (Service Level Agreement) SLA. To ensure maximum efficiency, it is imperative to enter the details of the received inventory in a timely manner in the ERP. Additionally, it is important to process all the orders within the agreed (turnaround time) TAT. This is the measure of the competency of any warehouse.
Avoiding SLA breaches is paramount when it comes to operating a warehouse, especially one with a large volume of operation. Keeping a close eye on each process of a large operation can prove daunting for the warehouse supervisor. Knowledge of all the inbound and outbound order completions as per the planned execution time is crucial for the efficacy of the warehouse. This gives the manager an idea of whether the execution is on time or if it is lagging, equipping him with valuable information to help avoid any possible SLA breaches.
We at ProConnect have embedded an SLA Achievement monitor in the designated Warehouse Management System (WMS). This is ProConnect’s own design and is intended to not only monitor, but also enable SLA achievements with detailed information being available at all times. Additionally, it also incorporates a near-breach alert which gives real-time transactional visibility to the respective department supervisor to take necessary action. This proves invaluable in avoiding any possible SLA breaches. The software allows the department in-charge to set the alert parameters through the WMS SLA Masters interface so that the monitoring rules are set beforehand and alerts are scheduled in case of any deviations. These alerts are flashed to the supervisor immediately in the event of nonconformity and necessary action can be taken to achieve the desired SLA as per the agreed TAT.
2- Employee & MHE Productivity:
For the improvement of productivity in any warehouse, accountability and measuring employee and Material Handling Equipment (MHE) productivity are absolutely essential. To understand the details of operations, it is hard to get a solid number from the employees themselves because they don’t typically keep a close watch on their activities. The general focus is on getting the cargo in and out of the dock and getting through the shift. When asked how many cases per man-hour each labourer picks or how many pallets per hour a put-away operator moves, the common response is, “we don’t measure that.” The response is the same when asked about the receiving and picking errors per operator because this parameter is not measured effectively either. By measuring the productivity of operators & MHE per shift, warehouse managers can quickly identify and create accountability for warehouse personnel to ensure that the workflows are even, and order accuracy is maintained. In ProConnect’s warehouse operations, the staff is equipped with (Hand-held Terminals) HHTs which enable them to automatically track these measurements in real-time. This helps keep a watchful eye on the performance trend of each employee against the benchmark productivity levels. More than that, this can help create essential analysis to estimate the manpower requirement for peak volume based on the demonstrated productivity.
3- Warehouse Space Utilization:
Better space management always translates to higher productivity levels in a warehouse. The role of space management is becoming more and more vital in meeting the desired SLA and avoiding revenue leakage in warehouse storage cost.
To achieve the best possible space utilization, our WMS has empowered the team to configure the SKUs, bins, locations, LBH and weight with high precision- allowing users to judge the best fit based on volume, weight and stacking norms. Based on these decisions, the ideal put-away rules are defined in order to achieve the best possible space utilization. Periodic consolidation of bin and location not only enhances space utilization but also aids the improvement of picking performances.
ProConnect WMS houses a dashboard report for warehouse space utilization, which provides bin utilization and bin capacity utilization metrics. It also gives real-time information about free bins to take necessary action in order to achieve the desired capacity utilization.
These are the three primary avenues of monitoring which ensure the operational efficiency of a warehouse. Making sure that these avenues are covered is nothing short of a gateway to 100% efficacy and client satisfaction.