Data Collection in the Warehouse
To be a profitable warehouse is to be a well-organized warehouse. The key to organization in a warehouse is data: knowing your data is accurate, accessible, and updated on a real-time basis, is imperative. Therefore, ensuring the data collection in your warehouse is precise and reliable is imperative. In other words, if your company is using spreadsheets or manually inputting any data from the warehouse or shop floor, it is past time for a change. It is time to automate data collection in your warehouse. Fortunately, the advances in warehouse management software (WMS) provide several options for automated data collection including the use of barcodes and associated hardware as well as supporting software.
You can improve accuracy, visibility, and productivity in the warehouse by leveraging barcodes. Incorporating a barcoding system can eliminate incorrect shipments, cycle counting, or inaccurate inventory information. Not that the use of barcodes is new. However, the technology and hardware available today are making barcoding much more efficient. Moreover, with the inexplicable fact that 43% of small businesses either don’t track inventory at all or use a manual process, it seems that not all companies have embraced barcoding in the warehouse. Barcodes are extremely versatile and can be used to collect all necessary data.
Devices used to read barcodes have advanced significantly. For use in the warehouse, you have options that include:
- Stationary readers
- Powered mobile carts
- Fixed mount
- Handheld devices
- Smart phones and tablets
Your warehouse can determine which tool (or combination of tools) is best for your unique needs.
Once you have deployed barcoding in your warehouse, you will need software to make sense of the data you are collecting. Your warehouse management system should be tailored to your company’s specific requirements, and most options will provide:
- Shipping and receiving
- Picking and packing
- Inventory management and movement
- Inventory and bin inquiry
- Inventory count
- Container receiving
- Put away
- Order management
- Production consumption
- Serialization, lot tracking, and expiration dates
Tying it All Together
Your ERP is only as good as the accuracy of the data that goes in, which is why data collection in the warehouse is so important. Having a WMS that is integrated with your ERP and seamlessly sharing data will help ensure you are making the most of your software investment.
With growing costs, new competitors, demanding customers, and very small margins, successful warehouses need precise, reliable data. They need to be able to access that data from anywhere at any time with real-time information. By automating data collection, you can increase the efficiency of the entire warehouse process including purchase orders, sales, inventory management, and customer support, and gain the edge over any of your manual-process competitors.
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