Picking and Packing
Getting new orders for your business is great, but before you can celebrate too much, you first have to get that order correctly packaged and delivered, because sending the wrong item is not only going to leave you out of pocket for the cost of replacement, it is also going to leave you with a potentially unhappy, and quite possibly ex customer. It is a fact of life that mistakes do happen, and while eradicating them entirely might never be completely possible, reducing them and keeping them to a minimum is absolutely essential. There was a time in a warehouse, where the staff knew what a product looked like and where it was to be located, but with the range of products carried by some firms, and the size of warehouses growing ever larger, this is not something that can, or should be relied upon.
To reduce the possibility of making mistakes in shipping an incorrect order, it is essential to decrease the chance of an error being made in picking, which can be achieved when the operations are accurate and efficient. A system needs to be in place, which can validate the correct pick and quantity, but equally important, to analyse and understand how, where and why errors have been made. The data should allow you to see if the errors are spread evenly across the warehouse, or more predominant in individual areas, looking for common mistakes. It may be one or more pickers are the problem, that some products need to be better located, or that the inventory tracking in the warehouse needs improving. Identifying the problem is the first step in preventing it from happening again and improving efficiency.
A product should be clearly and easily identifiable, without which the chance for error increases significantly. Products labeled with just a product number can be easily confused, especially if the numbers become quite lengthy. To allow for product confirmation in the picking and packing process, use of technology with UPC or bar codes, in addition to the use of item numbers and product description, can combine to help eliminate errors.
Using a third party logistics provider, or 3PL, can dramatically reduce errors, at the same time as providing multiple other benefits to a company. When you outsource to a 3PL company, with the most sophisticated methods and technology, such as the pick and pack service from TIFS, you can expect a very significant reduction in errors, as such firms of necessity have checks and procedures in place, which all but eliminate picking and packing mistakes.
As many mistakes are made, not with the product itself, but in the number ordered, one good option is to have all parcels weighed and checked against what the order system thinks they should weigh. Any deviation will send the parcel to be manually rechecked, where any mistake can be rectified before it goes out the door and impacts the customer.
While errors can be made by the customer in the incoming order, in the house, it is the picker who is most likely to make an error. Above all, any system needs to be able to track their picker’s performance, to identify when staff needs to receive more training, or where necessary, be replaced.