One of the biggest challenges and priorities for warehousing and distribution managers is achieving operational efficiency. Changes in warehouse workers, products, and processes can cause delays, mistakes, and errors that reduce the efficiency of your operations. Since efficiency is the deal breaker between your business thriving or failing, tools have been created to help managers handle these changes and reduce their rate of errors across warehousing processes. Machine learning is one of these tools, and here’s how this technology is revolutionizing warehousing and distribution in Toronto and around the world.
Receiving the Product
New products that enter your warehouse need to be stored and organized. It takes time to remove items from their original packaging, track their storage location, and carefully place them on the shelves. One of the benefits of machine learning is that it can analyze the current location of items in the warehouse, and as new shipments come in, they can match them to the correct location. This reduces the time consuming and often inefficient process that manual workers need to go through to keep the warehouse organized. Machine learning can also direct manual workers to the shortest route to get where they need to go, which saves time.
Picking an Order
Inefficient picking processes can lead to incorrect picking, which leads to unhappy customers and a sinking business. Proper inventory management and optimal picking order are paramount to running a smooth warehouse. Picking is the highest visibility task in the warehouse, and machine learning can optimize this process in numerous ways. For example, it reduces the number of steps in the picking process. As a result, there are less opportunities for error or damages.
Validation of an Order
Small items or those that are similar in appearance to others can cause problems for pickers. Machine learning helps prevent issues and mistakes in this area by analyzing order history and highlighting items that are at higher risk of error. It flags these items to notify pickers to be extra careful when handling and moving these items.
Picking Multiple Orders
Efficiently picking a single order is the minimum level of efficiency in the warehouse. However, many times workers need to combine picking movements for multiple orders. Picking multiple orders can be time consuming and inefficient if the right paths and organization are not in place. Machine learning helps by analyzing the orders in the system, and arranging the direction path, while simultaneously separating orders.
Warehouse Inventory Management
Inventory management is one of the most important aspects of the supply chain. Plenty of time is put into improving optimization techniques to make this process as smooth and organized as possible. Machine learning can improve inventory optimization, especially for businesses that have multiple warehouses. The technology can take into account independent variables that could cause errors or delays, and efficiently provide suggestions and solutions to manage stock. By diverting the bulk work to artificial intelligence, warehouse staff can focus more of their energy on product quality and customer experience.
Warehouse workers need to pay extra attention to items with expiration dates or sell-by dates. If these items are not properly handled or organized and picked on time, they can spoil and will cause waste and loss of revenue. Machine learning adds a level of intelligence to physical controls that you have set in place.
Improving Customer Satisfaction
Machine learning technology helps communicate in the warehouse, but it can also connect and interact with your customers. Using features like real-time data, machine learning can help customers by scanning inventory, searching for specific items, or notifying them of current deals. Bots can improve customer relationships while identifying low stock levels, product backorders, and provide valuable information that helps set customer expectations. By focusing more on customer satisfaction and product quality, you will ultimately improve your performance as a business.
Minimizing Stagnant Stock
Stock levels are one of the major factors affecting inventory management. Machine learning can make predictions on how much stock to carry, and can track inventory as it comes in or goes out of the warehouse. This resolves the concern of excess and idle stock that essentially stands for tied-up money that could be used for a better purpose. Current data provided by inventory tracking features in machine learning can ensure optimal business performance, better use of inventory, and satisfied customers.
How Lean Supply Solutions Can Help You
As you can see, the impact of machine learning on inventory management is profound. This technology resolves many of the issues that warehouses are facing today with growing customer demand and requirements for quality products. Artificial intelligence may not solve every problem, but it proves powerful insight that can help your warehouse team better manage their daily tasks. In addition, there is a growing need to compete against other businesses who have already begun to bring technology into their supply chain. Without the right warehousing and distribution services, your business can fall behind, and your consumers will be unsatisfied. To get the most from the amazing features of artificial intelligence, you will need a third-party logistics partner that has the right technology available to you.
Lean Supply Solutions provides effective supply chain management using automation and robust technology, and we make ourselves aware of the rising trends to help our clients succeed. We commit to being aware of our clients’ operational challenges and help them get the most out of their processes. We can offer consistent, accurate, and quality results by striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, while saving you money, and we can help you track and understand your metrics better. To learn more about our warehouse value-added services, or to ask any questions, contact us today.
As an e-commerce professional, you already know that for your business to be sustainable it requires a loyal customer base and effective supply chain management. But what is involved in supply chain services that build your business? Here are some of the areas that you can improve to ensure the best possible supply chain management this year.
To get a complete view of your operations and have an effective response to risks, the right prediction and contingency planning tools must be in place. These tools can help deal with risks such as suppliers going out of business, and natural calamities affecting manufacturing. With plans in place, companies can make adjustments to their promotion strategies and pricing to shape demand, speed up operations, increase revenue, and expand margins for high-demand products with limited market supply. Planning options may include any of the following:
- Manufacturing components of products domestically
- Manufacturing components in a foreign market by setting up production facilities internationally
- Purchasing a component from a foreign supplier
- Purchasing a component from a domestic supplier
Manufacturing companies must also decide how these goods will be produced. Products can be any of the following:
- Made to stock
- Made to order
- Configured to order
- Engineered to order
Optimize Inventory Management
Managing inventory is one of the most important aspects of a successful strategy. Inventory includes work in progress items, finished goods in bulk state, packaged, and saleable units. Managing inventory required packaging, labelling, material handling, sorting, and data tracking. An inventory management software gives you better visibility and control over your operations, and can save you money in the following ways:
- Avoiding unnecessary spoilage of goods (expired products)
- Avoiding dead stock (gone out of season, style, or become irrelevant)
- Saving on storage costs
Internal & External Collaboration Process
Internal collaboration occurs within a brand between managers and employees, while external collaboration occurs within a brand and its consumers. Collaboration can take place via social media channels like Twitter or online communities, blogs, and wikis. It enables brands to build a relationship with their audience to increase revenue, reduce costs, gain more efficiency, and boost customer service. Internally, it enables employees to communicate more effectively and improve productivity through file sharing, chat, social networking, and other features that aim to meet business objectives.
A business that integrates both internal and external collaboration strategies will do far better than one that focuses on internal or external alone. Some of the benefits of a social business include:
- Everyone can participate in providing information and valuable feedback
- Connections and relationships can be established and new relationships can be developed
- Customers are more likely to support brands that have a reputation for good communication and care about building long-term relationships
- Platforms can be used to brainstorm or provide ideas about marketing campaigns, sales strategies, and other activities
Packaging is just one aspect of a complete supply chain strategy. It deals with the functional and aesthetic properties of packaging to preserve the stability and integrity of the items inside. Packaging must be able to withstand transportation, environmental conditions, and other factors that could affect the contents.
Regulations that Must Be Complied
An essential component of a successful supply chain is regulatory compliance. It ensures that all parties involved meet the national and international laws that apply to them. These regulations change from time to time, and it is your responsibility to ensure you and your staff are meeting these requirements.
Safety and Security in the Supply Chain
One of the most important aspects of your supply chain is the safety and security process. Depending on the kinds of products you supply, you will need to abide by the regulations and safety requirements of customs and border protection agencies. You will also need to make sure the quality and efficacy of the products are consistent. Within your warehouse, the safety of your staff is also important. Your warehouse should have proper floor and wall markings, proper lighting, and clean, hazard-free floors.
Every e-commerce business that provides goods to consumers must have a return policy and management strategy. You will need to ensure that any returned products—whether they were defective, in poor condition, incorrect, or unsatisfactory—are properly handled once they return to the warehouse. Without a strategy for handling returns, you could suffer the loss of wasted time, energy, inventory, and lose profit. Aside from your strategy, you will also need to ensure your policies are clearly stated, so your consumers know how these situations are handled. Establish rules for product returns, monitoring performance and costs, and managing the inventory of returned product.
Let Lean Supply Solutions Manage Your Supply Chain
There are ever-changing and increasing demands in the supply chain that businesses need to keep up with, and if your business has been seeing incredible growth, you may realize how great a challenge this is. However, the right processes, tools, and practices can help you make the most of this growth to improve your business and meet customer expectations.
Working with a 3PL provider can help you deal with these challenges. With their experience in strategizing the supply chain, they can manage all the tasks above so you can have peace of mind and focus on other core responsibilities. A 3PL provider will also offer you many advantages such as supply chain management software and technology that increase visibility and communication between you and everyone in your business network.
If you are looking for the right company to partner with, Lean Supply Solutions is the answer. We rise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, order fulfillment, and more. To learn more about outsourcing to our supply management in Toronto, or to ask any questions, contact us today.