This human resources optimization can be accomplished at two keys stages of order fulfillment:
During the receiving stage, warehouses can use their workers more efficiently by embracing cross-docking. When applied correctly, cross-docking reduces waste, uses workers more efficiently, and frees up capital that’s typically tied up in inventory management (i.e., carrying costs).
The standard workflow operates like this: Goods arrive on incoming trucks; workers inspect the inventory, enter the SKUs into the system, and put away the items on the shelves.
With the cross-docking method, items are never entered into inventory. Workers receive items at the dock and inspect them. Once the delivery is accepted, orders are moved straight from the inbound dock to the outbound dock for shipment to customers. The putaway and picking processes are completely bypassed.
This is useful for businesses that ship out a high volume of the same type of orders. Since they know orders for specific products are always coming in, it’s more efficient to simply ship items out the moment they arrive. This practice speeds up their overall order fulfillment time.
Keep in mind: cross-docking is not something warehouses should do manually. A manual cross-docking operation lengthens, rather than shortens, order fulfillment times. This method requires sophisticated warehouse management software to keep tabs on which items should be cross-docked and which items should be entered into inventory.
Logiwa also handles the scheduling complexity that comes with cross-docking. Since it requires workers to spend more time at the docks, managers must ensure docks are free for use to avoid bottlenecks. In addition, they must schedule the right number of people at the right time of day to account for incoming shipments.
Order picking methods also impact how streamlined the processing stage is. Once items are entered into inventory, there must be an efficient method for retrieving them after an order comes in. There are several strategies a manager can employ, including batch picking, zone picking, and wave picking. Perhaps the most popular method for busy warehouses is wave picking.
With wave picking, managers schedule “picks” in waves. They look at the incoming orders, assign orders a priority (based on their delivery due dates), and then group them into waves. Each wave is tied to the schedule of an outbound truck. For instance, all the picks from the first wave of the day would end up on the 1:00 P.M. fleet of outbound trucks.
This method ties the order fulfillment process to customer satisfaction. Workers manage orders not in order of receipt, but in order of priority.
Like cross-docking, wave picking relies on a sophisticated WMS Software to manage the intricacies of delivery times, transportation schedules, and more. Once implemented, the right picking method can dramatically improve your order processing times.