Four WMS features that reduce product loss

Product loss is one of the few areas in a warehouse where each misstep compounds loss and cost. Missing one product can delay an order, cause you to pull products from a separate order to keep fulfillment on track, lead to faster resupply orders, and much more.

It’s an important domino that, once it falls, will reverberate through your supply chain. It makes sense that most warehouses are trying to limit product loss. Thankfully, your warehouse management system could play a key role in product loss reduction.

Smart packing limits

The lifts, carts, and other materials your warehouse workers use each day are designed for certain loads. A smart WMS inventory management system will take this into account and prevent your pickers from grabbing too much for their carts, or themselves. It may include co-packing to manage your load too.

That means fewer spills, less equipment damaging products, and even keeping you from stacking so many boxes that they squish what’s on the bottom.

In some cases, a WMS will also encourage these limits that prevent overloading by focusing on picking speed. You’re faster when you’re not overloaded, so wave and other picking methods can encourage this even without you thinking about it directly.

The planning approach

One of my favorite features of a WMS also plays a significant role in product loss reduction: reorganizing the warehouse. A smart WMS savings element is the ability to analyze operations and make suggestions for layout, workstations, and more. When you’ve streamlined your workflows and schedules, you’re ensuring that people are working in areas with enough space and enough sleep.

If your WMS has a workforce module, you can also plan out your cleanup schedule. In the same light, a WMS that tracks goods as they move through the warehouse thanks to RFID and BLE sensors will make it easier for you to identify when a product hasn’t made it to the right workstation. Knowing where materials are will keep things moving quickly and limits loss.

Reducing manual touches

Every time we humans touch something, there’s a chance that it’ll break or get damaged. WMS packages can help reduce the number of touches and the chance for human error through a variety of different means. Sometimes it is tracking and scanning pallets without requiring a breakdown; conveyor belts can get products between stations with less carrying, and plenty more.

Advanced features, like accumulation conveyors, can also help with these concerns by holding products in place until the rest of the line is ready. It leads to us running into each other a little less, plus all those mistakes where you think you have clearance to put something down and then knock products to the floor with destructive conclusions.

Continual check-ins

Sometimes product loss means theft. We touched on the ability of a WMS to track equipment, components, and more through a variety of sensors. Continuous monitoring can identify when a sensor or part is tampered with, allowing you to act immediately in the event of potential theft.  Employee badges with RFID chips give you a second layer of protection by knowing who is near a product if a problem occurs.

When employees have to check goods in at every step in the supply chain, it reduces the chances for your warehouse workers, drivers, and your partners to take a little off the top.

A bonus for this type of continual check-in is available for anyone with perishable goods, especially your manufacturers. An always-on data system can make sure your pickers are following FIFO rules and preventing spoilage by using the oldest products, not just what’s closest to the door or end of the shelf.

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Geoff Whiting

About the author…

Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.

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Geoff Whiting

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