Technology solutions to warehouse picking

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Picking is the process of removing items from inventory to fill an order. Manufacturers need to implement a picking system that is quick, efficient and cost-effective. Modern technology can give warehouses the solutions they need for proper inventory management.

Plan ahead
As the seasons change, so will customer demand. A once unpopular product should be moved to a more convenient area of the warehouse as need increases, while other items are relocated to more permanent storage.

Inbound Logistics suggested warehouses plan their picking strategies in waves. A manufacturer must be aware of what products will see the most demand in what season. This allows managers to prepare pallets, machinery and manpower to collect items for distribution. Planning prevents halting the picking process for inventory to be re-sorted.

ERP Software such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV will give managers the warehouse visibility necessary to view the current inventory and create accurate projections.

Proper shelving
Picking will be simpler if the inventory is properly shelved. The ability to find an item and remove it from storage is paramount to a fast and efficient distribution process.

When stocking inventory, a common mistake is to emphasize receiving rather than picking. Material Handling & Logistics News argues warehouses are quick to pack goods onto shelves without forethought into removal. When stacking, employees shouldn't just throw items into any available slot. Each product type needs a specific location. Workers must make sure the merchandise is front facing with a visible label when placed on the shelf.

Software solutions create a layout for an organized warehouse. The Microsoft Dynamics NAV inventory scanning module will combine shelving best practices with modern data solutions. A manufacturer just needs items stocked with barcodes presented and workers can scan the labels to get the information they need.

Fewer trips
Manufacturers have to remove redundancies in their picking procedures. Supply Chain 24/7, an online business resource, stated over 50 percent of warehouse labor resources are involved in picking. Eliminating needless steps in the process will save the company money.

A manufacturer doesn't want a worker to be taking multiple trips to warehouse locations to read or scan labels. Inventory employees and managers need data tools to provide visibility without actually having to visit each item.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV provides floor workers with all the information they need at the terminal of their choice. The software shows users what products are needed to fill the order, where goods are located and which items have been on the shelves the longest. The more intricate the information assigned to each bar code, the less likely an employee will make a mistake or mismanage an order.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV barcoding systems are mobile capable. The information for each product is visible to anyone in the warehouse on their mobile device. When an item is taken from the shelves, the worker will instantly log the removal and provide management with real-time inventory numbers. It eliminates wasted steps in the process and provides data to create future labor projections.

For more information on warehouse management solutions download the "Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync" white paper.