- “Warehouse automation is the use of technology to perform repetitive processes and also to eliminate manual data entry, which will ultimately help companies manage their inventory more efficiently.”
- “A warehouse management system system can also be set up with routing all throughout the warehouse so that the employee can take the best route through the house and not have to go back and forth to different places.
- WMS systems have everything on one central platform that anyone can access at any time. Therefore, orders that are created in the cloud automatically get their data collected and captured through the system.
Approximately 47 million Americans quit their jobs last year, resulting in a severe staffing shortage for businesses across industries. The latest data shows that there are 11.4 million job openings in the U.S.— but only six million unemployed workers. At the same time, cost-cutting measures are spreading in some industries, which has led to layoffs and hiring freezes.
Utilize Technology to Streamline Workflows
This complex labor market has left business owners searching for ways to streamline and automate processes that do not require extra staff. By implementing intelligent business management software, wholesale companies can gather and sync data from every department into a centralized database. As a result, the business can streamline workflows, automate processes, and integrate disparate systems. Ultimately, companies can work smarter with fewer employees.
“Warehouse automation is the use of technology to perform repetitive processes and also to eliminate manual data entry, which will ultimately help companies manage their inventory more efficiently,” Debra Mignola, Director of Product Management for Acumatica, said. “For example, with repetitive tasks such as counting, picking, packing, and shipping, when a warehouse employee uses devices such as a barcode scanning device, it can automate the data capture and make the process go more quickly and have fewer errors.”
Automate Traditionally Time-Consuming Tasks
Warehouse automation is super helpful with picking up the pace on time-consuming tasks, such as picking items for an order. The second an employee receives a production or sales order, the warehouse management system (WMS) can take that order and convert it into a pick list. This way, employees know how many of each item they need to pick and where exactly in the warehouse they are being stored. Without the location set up in a pick list to guide the worker, they would need to be highly trained on every corner of the warehouse to be able to find products.
“A warehouse management system system can also be set up with routing all throughout the warehouse so that the employee can take the best route through the house and not have to go back and forth to different places. Walking from one location to another is such a huge time-sucker,” Mignola said. “Along the same lines, maybe there are several orders that can be combined into one big batch and can be split up between different employees. They can go to different areas of the warehouse and pick the items in their respective areas, resulting in a more efficient picking process and saving time.”
This reduced time being spent on time-consuming tasks ultimately cuts down on labor costs and reduces the need for training warehouse staff. It also accurately keeps track of how much inventory is in each location, so your customer service teams know exactly what they can promise your customers, replenishers know exactly which products need to be replenished, and pickers can get orders fulfilled on time.
Avoid Hiring Data Entry Experts
Data is constantly being used and stored with warehouse automation, all in one central location. Instead of needing a team to manually enter inventory changes and risk errors being inputted, WMS systems have everything on one central platform that anyone can access at any time. Therefore, orders that are created in the cloud automatically get their data collected and captured through the system.
“A company called Chewbacca that does retail, distribution, and ecommerce chose Acumatica to have a fully integrated system that could accommodate their business processes. They have a commerce store that is fully integrated with active ERP, and they can do any kind of configurations or customizations to accommodate their customers. With warehouse automation, they were able to gain better control over their inventory and streamline their operation, saw a huge return on investment, and eliminated IT capital costs and the need for a development team because they do not need an on-premise data center,” Mignola said.
Affordable for Smaller Businesses
Companies without warehouse automation are finding it extremely difficult to compete with those that do have it, according to Mignola. While there is a threshold of business sizes and the complexity of the processes needed to justify the cost of warehouse automation, that threshold is going down and more providers are making automation more affordable for smaller companies. Implementation can be a big up front cost, but in the end, IT expenses will be reduced and the return on investment is much larger than the initial cost of automation.
“Customers these days have such high expectations. We are all used to easy ordering and fast fulfillment, so retailers are expecting the same from their suppliers. You cannot meet all of these expectations without warehouse automation,” Mignola said.