Warehouse picking errors negatively impact your third-party logistics (3PL) profitability. However, you can make changes that reduce picking errors and create higher standards across your entire operation. Here we offer practical tips to prevent picking errors.
Introduce Powerful Technology
Warehouse automation using the right technology reduces manual errors. It streamlines warehouse processes, improving productivity and minimizing touch points where mistakes
You can use warehouse management software to optimize routes related to pick locations to reduce physical effort. WMS, scanning technology, and collaborative mobile robots help reduce unnecessary manual tasks, making
Regularly Review Your Storage Strategies
It’s easy to get caught up in old, outdated storage strategies that inadvertently increase picking errors. Although creating an improved warehouse layout is time-consuming,
, once complete, reducing errors makes up for your effort. Reviewing your strategies ensures you can adopt more effective methods including:
- Placing top sellers in your most accessible areas
- Keeping frequently picked items closer to the packing/shipping areas
- Verifying proper labeling and slot location
- Having individual bins for small items to avoid picking errors
- Having a single location for each SKU in your racking system to reduce steps
These storage strategies will help improve picking efficiency.
Properly Identify and Label Inventory
As mentioned above, proper identification and labeling are essential to reduce mistakes. When everything is labeled correctly, your associates can scan items into locations using barcode scanners. You can then improve visibility for pickers with clearly marked signs, aisle markers, and rack labels. For smaller items, distinct labeling and SKUs with individual bins for each SKU ensure pickers know exactly what item they need.
Check Inventory Regularly
Regular inventory checks are the best way to keep track of misplaced items. With an effective labeling process, regular inventory checks make replenishment and putaway errors easier to spot. When items are found in the wrong spot, they can be moved to the right area. You’ll also ensure accurate inventory numbers to avoid disappointment in the delivery process. Your team can take a more proactive approach to ensure replenishment happens before you run out of stock or cancel orders for slower-moving items.
Assigning associate IDs helps improve accountability. When associates are fatigued or disengaged, they are more prone to errors. Accountability is a strong motivator to avoid mistakes as it identifies where issues lie and opens opportunities for retraining. If warehouse managers can hold individuals accountable, they can take the necessary action to improve performance.
Measuring how errors are made also identifies issues in the process. If certain stages of the process tend to cause errors, you can look at both the associates working in the area and the process in place. Remember, constant errors are more often a reflection of inefficient processes related to poor warehouse layout, outdated technology, and lack of training. You can tweak your process and replace high-risk tasks with improved procedures.
It is also essential to recognize your top performers. Often it seems easier to simply have the entire department undergo retraining when in fact, it wastes the time of people who understand the process. Efficient workers can carry on with the work while others are attending training sessions.
Fostering a more nurturing workplace focused on team development instead of remedial action creates an environment where associates feel safe bringing errors to the supervisor’s attention. This culture helps ensure errors are corrected before they reach the customer. This is especially important in direct-to-customer e-commerce warehouses where your team is solely accountable for what each customer receives.
Improve the Receiving Process
Assess your receiving process to look for weaknesses. Picking errors often occur due to shortfalls at the receiving stage instead of the picking stage. Miscounts at the receiving stage, misdirects that place products in the wrong department, or basic errors in the putaway process are all very common issues that increase the risk of warehouse picking errors. Errors also occur due to mislabeled products.
Although you will have to explore your entire operation to identify high-risk areas, a commitment to quality control, training and upgrades in technology will help facilitate an error-free culture.
VeraCore is SaaS order and warehouse management software trusted by top fulfillment companies and 3PLs. Affordable, flexible, easy to use; VeraCore is everything you need to keep clients happy and run a lean operation.
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