As a business owner, you can’t afford to make many mistakes at the receiving stage because this will lead to issues downstream, such as stock control issues, higher operational costs, and faulty orders delivered to customers.
That’s why it’s important to handle inventory right from the moment a shipment arrives. In this article, we’ll go over how to do just that.
Seven Tips to Master Material Handling and the Supply Chain Receiving Process
Here are six ways to better improve your warehouse receiving process:
1. Track the right metrics.
To set your business up for success, you first need to determine what metrics to measure to evaluate warehouse worker performance, detect bottlenecks, and make improvements over time.
Some common key performance indicators (KPIs) that you should consider tracking include:
- Cost of receiving per receiving line (total cost of receiving ÷ total number of items in reach receiving line)
- Receiving productivity (volume of inventory received ÷ number of hours worked)
- Receiving accuracy (total inventory put away correctly ÷ total inventory put away)
- Dock door utilization (dock door use time ÷ total dock door time available)
Receiving cycle time (total time spent sorting received stock ÷ total number of received items)
By keeping track of metrics such as these, you can see how well your receiving team is performing and where it can improve.
2. Establish pre-receiving requirements.
Before you make inventory orders, it’s important to establish pre-receiving requirements for suppliers and shippers to follow.
For example, you may want shippers to load the cargo in reverse order of the delivery schedule so that your receiving team can immediately put away inventory as they unload it. This way, they don’t have to sort through it first, leading to a more efficient system.
Another pre-receiving requirement you should have is a well-defined labeling structure. You may have specific requirements for what information is included on labels and where they are positioned on packages.
Just be sure to provide shippers all the proper documentation for labels upfront, and double check it to ensure it’s accurate. Do this in advance so that the receiving process runs smoothly later.
You may also want to define the number of packages allowed per pallet, the number of items allowed per carton, and an acceptable package size and weight range.
When it’s time to receive the inventory, you can then use barcoding, RFID scanners, and other technologies to quickly scan labels and see the content and quantity of what you are receiving.
3. Keep your receiving warehouse sufficiently staffed.
In order to handle warehouse receiving and incoming inventory, you need to staff appropriately. Labor may be your largest warehouse operating expense, but it’s not something you can afford to skimp on.
Be sure to align worker schedules with the receiving schedules so that you always have enough staff on-site to receive deliveries. Being understaffed will only hurt your business operations in the long run.
4. Inspect received inventory.
Once you’ve received an inventory order, take an exact product count. You can use an inventory scanner system to help automate this process.
Then, open every package and perform a thorough inspection. Check the overall conditions of products. Look for broken seals, lost items, damaged products, mismatches in product SKU, and other discrepancies.
Inspecting inventory is an essential aspect of warehouse receiving, as it helps ensure faulty products don’t reach your customers. Don’t let the inventory clerk sign off on a shipment until they’ve had all packages checked and rechecked. If there are any concerns or questions regarding the shipment, the inventory clerk should voice them.
5. Invest in the right equipment
When it comes to actually putting away inventory, you need to make sure you have a team equipped to do some heavy lifting. This means they should not only have the physical strength to carry heavy loads but the right machinery.
Here at HTX Material Handling, we offer several types of receiving and handling equipment to help you work faster. From forklifts and lift trucks to electrical tugs, and more, we’ve got what you need.
6. File and store products efficiently.
Your warehouse receiving team needs to have a system for filling and storing products in an efficient way.
For example, you might have them store inventory on palettes, on shelves, or in bins. Whatever the case may be, make sure it’s a cost-efficient use of space that helps you save on carrying expenses.
One way to optimize your filing and storing system is to digitize it with software. The right software system can help direct putaway routes and ensure you maintain a FEFO (first expired, first out) sequence.
7. Maintain a replenishment process.
Finally, it’s important to maintain a robust inventory replenishment system. Replenishment orders should process automatically, as inventory gets low and undercounts are detected in a shipment. That way, you can streamline the warehouse receiving procces an replace products quickly, meaning they’re less likely to be out of stock when you need them.
After all, you never want your customers to suffer as a result of an inventory mistake (e.g., by having to wait for a backorder or by not being able to order at all). Instead, you want to take a proactive approach to prevent such issues in the first place.
HTX: Master Material Handling with our 75 Years of Business Experience
Warehouse receiving isn’t a piece of cake. It takes an entire team dedicated to optimizing processes and always improving. Start small and learn as you go.
At the end of the day, any practice that can help you streamline receiving will help increase your bottom line. How? By boosting productivity and lowering operational costs.
If you’re ready to take your receiving process to the next level, consider getting more efficient equipment as part of your plan. Feel free to reach out to us today to discuss your needs. We look forward to chatting!