What’s the key to a successful warehouse in the food processing industry? While every business will have their own unique list of priorities, efficiency is always at or near the top. What’s the main killer of efficiency in a warehouse? Bottlenecks. Thus, if you can find a way to prevent bottlenecks, your warehouse stands a much better chance of being profitable and successful.
Bottlenecks in the warehouse
Shipments arrive at the loading dock and nobody is around to sign off. Material get unloaded and there’s not adequate storage available. Once the materials get sorted and inventoried, you suddenly realize that your product facilities are backlogged with orders. Employees are sitting around with nothing to do. Customers are frustrated because orders are late. Because the orders are late and the items are time-sensitive, many customers cancel their orders. This results in excess inventory, which further clogs your warehouses.
You get the picture – we’ve all been there before. The tiniest little bottleneck can slow down your entire supply chain and cripple your bottom line before you know it. But you don’t need anyone to tell you about the consequences of bottlenecks. You’ve seen them firsthand.
The bigger issue is that too many companies lament the negative repercussions of bottlenecks, as opposed to identifying the source and preventing them from happening again in the future. And when companies do try their hands at alleviating bottlenecks, they tend to do so manually.
While manual intervention is necessary for certain situations, it rarely makes sense. By the time you’ve identified the bottleneck and developed a plan for fixing it, the effects have already been felt four or five steps up or down the supply chain – and that’s no good.
Three ways software can prevent warehouse bottle necks
Manual identification and treatment of bottlenecks is not practical. The good news is that there are other options. Specifically, warehouse management software can automate this otherwise painstaking process. Let’s take a look at three specific ways this works.
1) Accurate picking controls
One of the biggest pain points in warehouse management is product picking. The key to avoiding bottlenecks and avoiding unnecessary congestion is better management of orders in the pick area. With the inventory traceability functionality present in food specific ERP software, picking becomes automated and streamlined.
With inventory traceability, lots get consumed in order of expiration date. You can also set up various other picking controls to prevent items from being used out of order or rotation.
Another benefit is that you actually get real-time insights into products that have expired, as well as ones that are nearing expiration. Thus, if materials do end up expiring, you can dispose of them quickly and place new purchase orders. This ensures you don’t end up with a shortage that could slow down processes and ultimately halt production.
2) Better pick area layout
Something as simple as the layout of your pick area can have a massive impact on production times. Even one poorly placed item can slow down a process long enough to create a bottleneck further down the line.
With warehouse management functionality, you can achieve greater operational efficiency through better pick area layout. This works by eliminating a non-value-added step, reducing travel distances between complimentary materials, and storing frequently picked ingredients in accessible locations.
3) Prevents downtime
Part of being efficient is ensuring all systems, devices, machinery, and programs are running well. Downtime on this front can result in a total shutdown of other processes.
ERP software allows you to stay on top of things like updates, maintenance, and life expectancy of automated systems. It also allows you to schedule repairs and updates during times in which the systems don’t need to be used as much (such as during non-business hours).
A few minutes of downtime may not seem like a big deal, but these lapses in productivity get compounded the further down the supply chain you go. By preventing downtime at the top of the chain, you can ensure customers are satisfied at the bottom.
Ready for a specialized food ERP? Learn more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP JustFood Edition — a solution purpose-built to solve your challenges and propel your food business and digital transformation to the next level.