Consumer demand has always influenced developments in warehousing and supply chain management. In order to meet growing pushes for improved order volume, speed, accuracy, and efficiency, logistics operations have become involved in a perpetual cycle of innovation, experimentation, and implementation of various supply chain services. One of the faster-growing forays in this drive for continual improvement has been the incorporation of wearable technology in supply chain management activities. The use of wearable technology in supply chain management promises more than just the freeing up of hands and the putting away of large terminals. It means connecting workers through the Internet of Things in a way that spurs productivity to heights that were not previously attainable.
How Wearables Can Improve Your Supply Chain
Upgrade Productivity and Efficiency
Supply chains and warehousing activities are filled with numerous time-consuming tasks that can sometimes seem unavoidable. When trucks of product are received, for instance, the packages need to be counted and shipment data entered manually. What if a worker could run their finger over each box so a wearable scanner quickly processes the data and numbers from the barcodes? It might seem like science fiction, but these scanners already exist and have been in use since at least 2012. A more futurist idea might be to use something like Google Glass to track counts with eye movements alone, but even that is not out of the realm of possibility.
Improved Safety and Quality
It is no secret that warehouses can be tough work environments. The physical demands can be straining and will inevitably make even the toughest worker start sweating buckets. Warehouses can get sweltering in summer and frigid in winter. These factors can lead to situations like dehydration, rapid heart rate, blood pressure spikes, and exhaustion that can put the worker and others at risk and increases the possibility of accidents. Wearable technology already exists that can help solve this problem. Fitbits and similar types of body trackers can let managers know when a worker is in need of a break and order them to take the time to recover themselves.
Boosting Speed and Accuracy
Analytics play a large role in finding ways to improve the pace and accuracy of warehousing work, but analysis can only be as good as the data it uses. Wearable technology in supply chain management allows the accumulation of better data and offers the potential to find inefficiencies that might otherwise escape notice. Wearables can notice common errors and speed or efficiency issues faster than humans and could potentially be set to automatically notify when bottlenecks in the process start to appear. The use of wearables can also reduce inefficiency by empowering workers with more information. Instead of relying on fixed-location terminals for product details or inventory counts, a quick “OK Glass” could pull up everything the worker needs without their having to move. When movement is required, wearables can keep workers apprised of any slowdowns or obstructions—such as due to freight loading—that might influence which path they take through the warehouse.
Find Technological Warehousing Options with Lean Supply Solutions
Lean Supply Solutions is a third-party logistics (3PL) fulfillment company whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, call 905-482-2590.
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The decision of whether to outsource to a third-party logistics (3PL) service provider can be a tricky one. Outsourcing, by definition, involves relinquishing a degree of control over your operations and placing them in the hands of an outside company. When looking at 3PL services, there is a natural hesitancy to entrust parts of your supply chain to another party. Rather than dwell on these feelings, it’s important to take an accurate look at the picture and see the kinds of benefits 3PL providers can offer. Only by looking at the whole picture can you make an accurate, informed decision.
Saving Time and Money
Keeping your logistics operations in-house lets you maintain full control and involvement, but this does come at a cost. Storing products, supervising shipments, and managing warehouse staff all take up time and monetary resources that you don’t necessarily have. This problem can become very apparent in situations where you are trying to expand and are faced with setting up new warehousing locations from the ground up. 3PL service providers help minimize the risk of these ventures by letting you get the necessary services with a much lower overhead and start-up cost. Even once operations get underway, the 3PL company can see to handling warehouse activities while you devote yourself to your core business and growth.
Scalability and Flexibility
Every business has periods where demand and need wax and wane. You could be a retailer seeing the start of the Christmas season, for instance, or a swimwear company looking at the beginning of autumn. This places extra demands on your stock and warehouse employees since the level you need will not always be consistent and there will inevitably be periods when you must quickly ramp up or scale down operations. When outsourcing to a 3PL company in Toronto or your locale, you only pay for the services you use. This means that cutting back or adding on extra space and manpower is much less complicated, and you don’t have to worry as much about paying for storage you aren’t going to be using.
One of the more notable obstacles small businesses run into when doing their own logistics is the lack of established relationships and deals. It’s easy for Wal-Mart or Amazon to get discounts on shipping by sheer virtue of their size, but doing the same as a lone local business can be much harder. 3PL companies work with a number of different businesses at any given time and can use this to leverage volume discounts, faster services, and other “big player” perks to let you and your operations benefit from their resources.
Third-party logistics service providers, especially ones that are well established, have many more years of experience with the ins and outs of shipping and warehouse operations. They’ve seen crises emerge and get solved, sudden shifts in demand that send workers scrambling, and much more. This affords 3PL companies with an unparalleled level of experience and hands-on knowledge that will be used to improve your operations and keep things running smoothly.
Logistics is a continual process of refinement and development. 3PL service providers are constantly engaged in the analysis of warehouse and shipping practices, stay on the pulse of technological developments, and always have an eye out for new techniques and processes that can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and save on costs.
Find 3PL Service Providers in Toronto with Lean Supply Solutions
Lean Supply Solutions is a 3PL fulfillment company whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to theclients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, call 905-482-2590.
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Reverse logistics is the term used to describe the way a company handles products that get shipped backwards through the supply chain. Customer returns are a form of reverse logistics, but so is the unsold merchandise sent back from a store, among other scenarios. The central idea behind reverse logistics is to recapture value from these returned items and to enhance service throughout the supply chain. There are several key benefits to reverse logistics that any business, large or small, has a vested interest in obtaining.
Enhance Customer Service and Loyalty
When a customer returns a product, your business has an opportunity to learn about and respond to their concerns that shouldn’t be ignored. Making swift and effective repairs or replacements of damaged or faulty merchandise is the most basic way you can use reverse logistics to impress the customer and maintain their satisfaction and loyalty to your brand. Not all repairs are due to a direct flaw in the product, however. Sometimes a customer misunderstands what your product does, finds it confusing to use, gets the wrong size, finds that they don’t like the color, or other reasons that don’t necessarily relate to a functional problem. Getting feedback during the return process lets you learn more about why the return is being made so you can make improvements accordingly in the future.
Reverse logistics is a lot like recycling, and it even has its own version of the three “R”s: resell, refurbish, repurpose. If a product is returned in good shape and isn’t faulty, then it can be packaged back up and sold to someone else. If the product requires repairs, part replacements, or other bits of maintenance, then it can be refurbished at a lower cost than building an entire new item. Lastly, if a product is truly unable to be turned into resalable condition, it can be repurposed and broken down so its usable components can be recycled. This not only reduces your business’s waste, it also helps recapture value across multiple points of the reverse supply chain.
Boost Public Perception
In addition to garnering goodwill from customers with an effective returns process, the benefits of reverse logistics also extend to public perception at large. People are more environmentally conscious than ever, and attempts by companies to become greener are often met with positive responses. Reverse logistics keeps more of your goods out of landfills and in circulation to help do your part and earn public approval to boot.
Reduce Security Risk to Businesses
This particular benefit does not apply to all businesses and mainly affects those that deal with products capable of storing information. A proper reverse logistics process will take into account any security issues surrounding product disposal and includes the steps needed for a proper response. By making sure data is thoroughly wiped before disposal or recycling, you can avoid unpleasant situations where customer information is obtained by someone who receives a previously-used product or who was rummaging around in a dumpster.
Find Efficient and Effective Reverse Logistics with Lean Supply Solutions
Lean Supply Solutions is a 3PL fulfillment company whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.
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Kitting is a basic part of product fulfillment services that combines different products into a single kit, which is then sold as its own unit. Since kitting helps improve sales, eases inventory tracing, and otherwise reduces paperwork, getting the task done well produces numerous benefits. Any company looking to improve their kitting and fulfillment services should consider outsourcing due to the ways it can further enhance this essential task.
Benefits of Outsourcing Kitting Services
When an outsourcing company charges you for kitting and fulfillment services, they do so on a per-unit basis. This cost-per-unit model is easily predictable and makes budgeting a breeze since you will know ahead of time what your stock is going to look like. Outsourcing also reduces your reliance on your own warehousing infrastructure and the upkeep costs that inevitably involves. Instead, you can take advantage of the outsourcing company’s facilities to further streamline operations.
Quality of Products
Kitting and assembly takes time and energy that can be better spent focusing on your core business objectives, especially if you do most of your operations in house,. Using a trusted company as your outsourcing partner lets you get quality and accurate kitting while you and your own workers focus on improving overall product quality and business growth.
Demand for a product inevitably fluctuates throughout the year, and these variances can be enough that you either find yourself with more hands than you need or scrambling to get new workers on board and products shipped out. Outsourced kitting and fulfillment services are highly flexible and can be scaled up and down as circumstances shift. They can even let you respond quickly to dramatic upswings in demand so you are never at risk of falling behind.
This applies to companies that manufacture their own products. It can be overwhelming on your infrastructure to try and carry out everything from manufacturing to kitting and assembly under a single roof. Outsourcing lets you split up the process with “sub-assembly plants” that will take care of the latter parts of the fulfillment process.
Harness Outsourced Kitting and Fulfillment Services with the Lean Methodology
Lean Supply Solutions is a 3PL fulfillment company whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to our clients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results. To learn more about the Lean Methodology, about outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.
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