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With the rising e-commerce demands and fast delivery expectations, managing a warehouse can be a difficult task.
From delivery delays due to incorrect order fulfilment to redundant inventory information, these are challenges warehouse managers need to resolve.
Now, automated solutions such as automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), logistics software and robots are available to assist managers in simplifying the complexity in warehouse logistics.
Clement Yew, Director of Business Development, Southeast Asia, AutoStore shares shares his thoughts on the pitfalls in warehousing and their solutions.
Poor Optimisation of Space
All jobs face challenges, ever-increasing with time, including warehouse management.
Warehouse managers are welted with pressure from accelerating e-commerce demands and shipments. When people are subdued by pressure, human errors may result, potentially damaging productivity and profitability. What then, should every business leader look out for in warehousing operations?Even the biggest of warehouse spaces may soon become inadequate when business grows. This is especially true for small countries such as Singapore where space is a prized premium used by commercial and residential properties, and mass transportation.
Maximising the space usable should therefore be the priority for any warehouse manager, using vertical space and smart mechanisation to ensure smooth inventory movement and distribution.
One example illustrating the maximisation of space is how Yusen Logistics doubled its storage volume in its Singapore warehouse, despite the geographical constraints. The Japanese global logistics provider installed its first mechanised system in said warehouse, and has since upped its throughput eighteen-fold. Developed by Swisslog, this system latches onto Norwegian-rooted AutoStore’s Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS), and comprises of 22 robots, 40,600 bins, and 11 picking stations.
Inaccurate Inventory Tracking
Do we know what we have, and where these are, at any point in real-time? Having clarity and accuracy in our inventory ensures resource management and audit compliance, assuring customers, partners, employees, and regulators alike. It certainly would immediately make our jobs easier to find, fill, pack, and fulfil orders.
Conversely, having inaccurate inventory information is a recipe for failure, since we would not know what we have, where they are located, what are packed, who to relay the packed items to, and when they arrive at our destinations. And often, relying solely on human data inputs can cause a variety of errors, especially for large warehouses.
Managers can address these problems with a competent team supposed by automation, with complete inventory visibility right down to the smallest details. This combination of a competent team supplemented by smart automation helps to reduce inventory and packing errors and shortages, and increase customer satisfaction.
Incorrect Order Fulfilment
Customers expect timely and accurate deliveries from their e-commerce orders. Fulfilment errors, lost items, and delays can force customers to go elsewhere.
When items are lost, warehouse managers have to re-send these items to customers again, losing profits and time. Adopting a modern warehouse management system may reduce such losses and errors providing real-time analytics to keep track of every single item passing through the warehouse.
Damages in Product Handling
Accidents can happen. Products may be damaged due to handling lapses involving heavy machinery such as forklifts and pallets, and immediately erode the bottom line. With smart automation organising racks and shelves with demarcations, human factors related errors can be reduced tremendously.
Statistics show that automation can attain 99.7 per cent uptime and even achieves a mean time between failures (MTBF) of over 3,000 hours.
Workplace safety is an important business concern, with financial and legal ramifications. In the first half of 2022 in Singapore, there were 6,046 workplace injuries in total. Many warehouses are typically lined with racks and shelves, where forklifts traverse within the compound. These movements over time can increase the incidence of workplace injuries. One fatal accident or major injury may have regulators shut the operation down.
Warehouse managers need to schedule regular safety refresher sessions for all employees to imprint workplace safety into everyone’s mentality. Employees should dress appropriately for warehouse roles, especially where heavy machinery and moving parts are central in their jobs. Managers should always emphasise safety above speed.
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