How To Solve Common Inventory Problems In Manufacturing Warehouses
Manufacturing warehouses often must fulfil two very distinct purposes – the manufacturing of goods and products, and the safe storage thereof until they’re sent out to customers.
The two-fold nature of manufacturing warehouses can lead to very specific problems, even above and beyond the typical issues encountered by warehouses. These issues can lead to inventory shortages, missing products, and other obstacles that can prevent your warehouse from working as smoothly as possible, but with a little preventative maintenance you can keep your products flowing and your customers happy.
One of the biggest issues a manufacturing warehouse faces is missing items during replenishment. When your team must pick and fulfil an item, are they going for the entire pallet or just a single item? If they must take the pallet down, are they putting it back on your pallet racks correctly? Misplaced items during replenishment and picking can lead to greater issues down the line, and your team needs to be coached on replacing items back where they belong. Greater visibility for item locations may be part of the issue, and you may need to come up with a better barcoding system and use better shelving labels to keep everything identifiable.
Similarly, a huge problem with warehouse inventory comes from product movements not being tracked properly. In a lot of busier warehouses, particularly ones that manufacture their own parts or products, products can get relocated physically but without their new location being saved properly in your WMS, or vice-versa. If any of your goods are moved between pallets, or from your metal shelves to wire shelves elsewhere in the office, the new location needs to be reported and tracked immediately in your inventory management system, and then it needs to be confirmed and finalized out on the floor. By updating your databases every time a product gets moved, you can save yourself a lot of time and lost productivity in the long run.
Of course, even if the products aren’t getting relocated, you still need to be able to complete cycle counts to keep up with current inventory levels and locations. A lot of manufacturing warehouses encounter a problem with products missing from cycle counts, due to the level of products they deal in. With a lot of inventory management software, they may trigger a new cycle count upon discovering an item is missing, and if this happens too often throughout the day you can really start to lose productivity. Make sure your workers know every step of the counting process, as well as the process of tracking each item’s location, to help reduce the risk of human error in your counting. When it comes to counts, you also need to make sure your warehouse isn’t understaffed for counters. A lot of warehouses are unprepared for the amount of inventory counters they may need, and as the amount of warehouse storage you use increases, the number of dedicated cycle counting staff will increase as well. If your cycle counts are getting done slower than normal, or if you need to perform more of them than you had in the past, make sure your staffing levels are where they should be.