For some owners of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), just looking inside their warehouse is enough to cause a stream of regular nightmares.
Pallets of inventory are everywhere, tracking products can be a headache and the potential for human error is lurking behind every corner. The potential for time and money loss is enormous.
Fortunately, your warehouse doesn’t have to be a huge source of angst. Together with cloud ERP technology, mobile tools can help SMBs streamline their warehouses and create a more accurate process for the entire facility.
For example, a typical order picking routine might look like this:
- Receive the order and print out the picking ticket.
- Wander around the warehouse looking for the item. Find the guy everyone calls the “Inventory Rain Man” who knows where everything is, or walk back to the office to look up the item and hope it’s in stock.
- Record the serial or lot numbers picked using pen and paper. Write clearly!
- Finally discover the item, pick it and send it out.
- At the end of the day, send all of the manual pick tickets to accounting so they can invoice the customers.
- Live in fear of getting that call from the customer: “I was supposed to get item A1234567, not B1234567!”
- Apologize profusely, send the correct item with expedited shipping costs, and begin the process of tracking the returned item and restocking inventory.
Sound familiar? Unfortunately for many SMBs, it does. But what if you could access a pick-list that is sorted based on inventory location and do so right in the palm of your hand? Better yet, what if items that are already picked are automatically dropped to the bottom of the list, making it easy to identify remaining items? Sounds great, right? This can actually happen.
Here are five ways that handheld barcode scanners with pick lists can improve accuracy and speed up picking and shipping.
- Barcodes are much faster: Consider a shipment of 10 items. It will take approximately two minutes to write down the item and serial numbers, plus another two minutes to enter these into the computer. However, it will take only a few seconds to scan the all the barcodes. No manual entry is required.
- Check inventory status from anywhere in the facility: Warehouse crews can view inventory statuses from their smartphone. This saves them the effort of returning to a desktop computer located in the corner of the warehouse to look up the location of an item. Eliminating just a few of these trips back to the office can save at least 30 minutes a day for a busy worker.
- Move time-sensitive inventory before other inventory: For companies sensitive to maintaining FIFO (first in, first out) stock or inventory with expiration dates, cloud ERP systems help workers gain visibility to the oldest inventory and direct them to use that product first. Regardless of the transaction (receiving, order picking, physical counts, etc.), a paper-based process leads to duplicated efforts to record the action.
- Barcode scanning has fewer errors: Manual entry is much less accurate than simple barcode scanning. A conservative estimate shows that the typical error rate of human data entry is one error per 300 characters. However, barcode scanning has less than one error in 30 trillion characters. This means pickers are immediately validated that they’ve picked the right item.
- You can use an Apple platform: The most popular tablets in the world are compatible with warehouse management solutions. This means you’re able to use Bluetooth-enabled scanners or the built-in camera for ultimate flexibility to meet your barcoding needs.
SMBs don’t have to lose sleep over the condition of their shipping. Together with cloud ERP technology, mobile tools help SMBs to streamline their picking, eliminate manual efforts and embrace real-time management. And they can do it right from their phone.