How can your WMS streamline loading bay activities?
An easy way to learn about the health of your business and its potential for growth is to ask about your loading bay. Not only should you check its efficiency, but you might just find that you don’t know enough to answer the important questions.
Here are a few:
- How long does it take your team to load an FTL order?
- What’s the average LTL size of your order and how long does this loading process take?
- For your business, how do you optimize the mix of these and other shipments at your loading bay?
A WMS that tracks your average order sizes, when they go out, how they go out, and the time it takes for your team to finish loading bay activities can be a life saver. If you can’t answer these questions, or you don’t like the answers you’re getting, it might be time for some better warehouse tech.
Start with metrics
Increase the availability of delivery and shipping slots by utilizing information around each trailer and giving your team ample time, with a little wiggle room, for each order. Planning your slots around loading and unloading volumes can ensure you don’t have companies waiting for you, which can lead to missed opportunities or even increased costs from some partners.
Choose a WMS that can allow you to add, cancel, or amend bookings based on your capacity and available resources. It’ll give you and your carrier partners a better way to support your operations, communicate about needs, and respond to issues that occur at any point in your supply chain.
Always moving faster
A basic element of the metrics for timing and the other items we’ll mention is the technology that supports these larger warehouse systems, like a WMS. Most important are barcode scanners, RF gates, and other automation tools designed to interface with your WMS.
They’ll capture data, signatures, and movement, greatly increasing throughput by reducing manual tasks, automatically grabbing complex numbers that are prone to human error, and checking off items in your audit list as you complete tasks.
Scheduling your cross-docks
A robust WMS can help you best schedule your shifts and your deliveries to make the most of labor and the loading bay itself. By tracking the arrival and departure times of different loads, you can have the space available to store or directly cross-dock your goods briefly. This can enable you to run leaner, store less inventory, and have your crew work with readily available materials.
Warehouse technology makes this easier not only for the scheduling but in its ability to track and record inventory even as it moves in this manner. You don’t have to move goods to one location to be counted, another to be stored, and then a final pre-staging place to fill your next trailer. Count, store, pick, and move the right way with a better WMS.
Some WMS tools also help you understand the status of your loading bay in real-time, so you can see when things are going correctly or if there is an issue.
A nice feature of most systems that provide live information is the color-coding of trailers or rail cars. You can see when a vehicle or unit is arriving, when it is loaded, and when it’s leaving, plus if these activities are on-time or delayed.
Live data can also be used to alert team members as they are needed. Pre-stage your team so they can be ready when a delivery or collection arrives, give them a heads up before an empty truck comes by, or send reshelve orders to change your layout if there’s a change in shipments.
The better your team can communicate, and the more automatic alerts are, the smoother things will go with a streamlined approach to your loading bay.
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