No matter how advanced inventory tracking software may be there’s always something to be said for the human element.
The fanciest RFID or barcode scanners in the world still need to be operated by a human being behind the scenes, and making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to inventory checks will help instil a greater sense of responsibility and accountability for your staff, and can work to reduce overall errors throughout the warehouse.
This will require a bit more hands-on approach with both your inventory and your team, but the reduction in inventory errors (and the associated reduction in cost, both labour and financial) will go a long way towards helping your warehouse work better overall. Here are four quick tips to provide better inventory accountability through your warehouse, and help your team count goods better than ever before:
Clear and consistent training
Your team won’t be able to do what you need them to do without having a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, and how they can best accomplish their duties. For any of your warehouse installations, from things like hand scanners and tablets, even for mobile aisle shelving, make sure there’s clear documentation on how to use these tools and make sure every worker gets the same amount of training and explanation on how they work.
Wordy signage or overly long location descriptors can prove fatiguing to the human brain, and may cause more confusion and miscounts than they prevent in the long run. When it comes to things like rack/shelf labels or signage throughout the warehouse (to indicate item location or provide directions) try to use as many images as possible, and if words are needed, keep it simple to improve readability.
Reduce travel time
No matter how well-trained or well-equipped your team is, mistakes can happen at any time, and the chances of a picking error or item miscount increase if your workers are overly fatigued. Rearrange your warehouse shelving in a sensible way that places the most commonly-picked items up front to reduce the amount of walking your team needs to do, and for harder-to-reach items or warehouses with longer layouts, turn to gravity conveyors to help your products get from point A to point B without a lot of wasted movement on your workers’ part.
Regular quality control checks
As part of your regularly scheduled inventory counts, make sure to review things like your picking process and training methods to see where mistakes could be made. If a certain step in the process is causing a lot of picking errors, or if one specific item always seems to get miscounted, take the time to review your processes and see if there’s a specific point in the picking method where something can get overlooked or miscounted. Even if no immediate errors are found you might be able to identify an area where something can be done more efficiently, or at least faster.