Warehouse Management Tips for 3PLs
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an increase in demand for third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses. In light of such growth, 3PLs of all sizes have been seeking innovative methods of managing their businesses, and in most cases, that means looking to streamline warehouse management. As business levels continue to rise, here are three areas on which 3PL’s can focus.
#ShipTip: The supply chain management model of a 3PL can depend on its niche and specialization, which implies that its management style might look different from that of many "typical" 3PLs. In the event that you are experiencing difficulties in creating an effective warehouse management strategy, talk to your current supply chain expert or view our 3PL WMS Partners here. [LINK]
(1) Keep Organized Organization and cleanliness are essential for warehouse management. Specifically, it helps reduce errors, informs clients and customers of inventory, and reduces injury or accidents at work.
Clutter can pose a significant problem in any workplace, but it is of particular concern in warehouses. Aim to ensure that the inventory arriving in the warehouse is sorted and that the cartons or boxes that the orders came in have been removed. There is a good chance that when you have a system you like to use, all your warehouse containers will have the same appearance and use the same internal features. Adding random boxes to the equation will only confuse and cause further errors. Make it a requirement for your employees to take time every day to clean and organize their workspaces.
Adapt Lean Inventory Practices
We understand that as a 3PL, you are not always able to control how often your inventory moves in and out. As part of your warehouse best practices, you can quickly educate your customers on maintaining a lean inventory. When you keep a lean inventory, it means that you only keep what you need and nothing more. The result will be fewer products for your employees to handle as well as less inventory for your warehouse to store.
Separate Client Stock Types
Most 3PLs operate more than one e-commerce business in one large facility. The separation of these businesses in terms of technology and space is crucial. By maintaining physical separation between companies, employees are better able to pack the correct items every time. It may be helpful to create separate labels for each section to allow employees to recognize immediately if an item does not belong.
Organize Up, not Out
Owners of warehouses understand that space is not unlimited. It is imperative to utilize vertical space and organize up and not expand out. Despite possible difficulties with quick pick and pack, this can help you maintain space and grow your business. The goal is not to keep everything out of reach, but to have extra inventory on hand to pull in as needed. As a result, an efficient workflow can be established and valuable space is saved.
Safe working environments enable your employees to work harder and reduce the risk of errors as well as injuries. Cleaning your warehouse regularly is the key to keeping a danger-free workspace.
Train Employee Specialists
There is no doubt that you spend a great deal of time training your employees, but it is also vital that you train them in more than just pick, pack, and send. Training employees about how to organize and manage your warehouse is beneficial for everyone involved. As a result, employees have more control over their work, and employers are confident that employees will use the skills they are given.
(2) Keep Up With Inventory
Maintaining inventory involves more than just the obvious. It is imperative that you become hyper-focused on the inventory levels of every enterprise that falls under your 3PL umbrella. A good inventory management system is crucial when it comes to both maintaining the customer relationship and reducing the chances of errors.
Keep Track of Error Rates
Even the most efficient and organized warehouse is bound to make pick and pack errors. It is important to keep a record of the types of errors that occur and their causes. You can later use these records to analyze your warehouse supply chain and train employees to reduce errors and costs in the future.
LIFO or FIFO
Does your warehouse operate on a last-in, first-out basis or a first-in, first-out basis? As a 3PL, you may have enterprises specifying exactly what type of accounting and process they would like, but you also must understand your position as an organization. In the case of interchanging products, you might not be able to use this type of accounting system, but it could simplify and organize your inventory.
Do you have a specific SKU or labeling process? It is common for 3PLs to label their products so they are interchangeable with your inventory management and fulfillment technology. When labels are incorrect, inventory is misplaced, products are put into the wrong boxes, and your system fails, it can be disastrous. Choosing a labeling system that allows for easy tracking and storage is most beneficial.
As opposed to doing inventory counts once a year, your inventory should be cycled. Cycle counting refers to the practice of counting inventory more than once during a given cycle. Whether that cycle is once a month, quarter, or any other period, it's important to keep up-to-date with inventory checks. Syncing your online and physical systems is made possible by this inventory application.
(3) Leverage Technology
Technology is the final piece of the puzzle for 3PL total dominance. Dramatic? Probably. Are we right? We are, indeed. A good technology stack will help you manage your warehouse and become an industry expert.
With a Warehouse Management System (WMS), companies are able to supply and regulate warehouse operations through software that tracks goods from the moment they arrive at the moment they depart. A WMS helps to organize warehouses and streamline business processes.
OMS + Shipping Solution
Order management software (OMS) systems can be a stand-alone integration or built into a shipping API, such as DesktopShipper. The system allows a business to organize its entire fulfillment method from order acquisition to inventory and delivery. OMS and WMS together can help businesses manage the orders as well as organize their warehouse.
3PL Specific Software
3PL-specific software is essentially an OMS or WMS system that provides specific benefits to 3PLs. WMS and OMS systems are valuable and very helpful, but they are not always effective in distinguishing between the service offerings of different 3PL customers. A 3PL-specific software suite, such as Camelot 3PL and 3PL Central, enables customers to differentiate between multiple businesses and providers. Consider using 3PL-specific software if you're having trouble with any of the above issues.
The third-party logistics industry is growing, but the truth is that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Whether you're a new or established or new 3PL, now is the time to get organized. The warehouse is the heart of your business and it is imperative that it be kept in good working order.