Tag Archives: Warehouse Management Software


If the ongoing supply chain crisis has taught us anything, it’s the critical importance of optimizing warehousing processes. However, managing a warehouse effectively is no mean feat. You’re required to be both strategist and analyst, to identify and capitalize on opportunities for improvement today while outlining and preparing for the needs of tomorrow.

The good news, though, is that managers aren’t alone when it comes to optimizing their warehouse operations. In fact, a host of technologies is emerging to make your warehouse processes more efficient and effective than ever before. This article describes strategies you can use to upscale your warehouse organizational processes through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

The Power of Predictive Analytics

If you’ve been working in the industry for a while, you know that the market is always changing, and that means that your warehouse operations strategies must change with it. Fortunately, warehouse managers today have more powerful tools than ever before to analyze market conditions and forecast future trends.

For instance, the predictive capabilities of AI technologies are virtually unprecedented. These systems are capable of analyzing literally billions of data points in mere seconds and, through the power of machine learning, using that data to identify patterns and formulate market predictions.

These insights can be a profound asset when it comes to inventory management and distribution planning.

Remote Sensing

AI technologies aren’t just useful for analyzing data and predicting future market conditions, they’re also superb in monitoring existing conditions and defining optimization strategies as needed. This supports the kind of agility and responsiveness that are essential to avoiding the supply chain disruptions that have threatened the global economy in recent years.

For instance, AI-powered devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) can track shipments and even trace individual items as they move through the supply chain, recognizing and documenting delays and disruptions, sending out real-time alerts to stakeholders, and even defining mitigation strategies as needed.

For example, when an AI sensor detects that a shipment is likely to get snagged in congested or blocked transport routes, it can identify and even automatically reroute the most expeditious alternative pathway.

Similar automation processes can also occur within the warehouse itself. So-called “learning warehouses” can monitor internal and external data, from customer behavioral patterns to current weather conditions, and use this data to optimize picking processes, allowing products to be picked and shipped from the warehouse even before orders have been placed.

Driving Workforce Planning

Another critical function of AI technologies in warehouse operations management is to facilitate workforce planning. Warehouse operations can be exceedingly complex, involving a large number of workers and stakeholders performing a diverse array of functions across all stages of the supply chain, from the warehouse to the final point of sale.

Savvy managers can unleash the full potential of AI in workforce planning by deploying organizational planning tools, such as mind maps, to help them more clearly and comprehensively define workflows. This, in turn, enables leaders to identify opportunities to optimize staffing processes organization-wide through AI analytics and optimization.

For example, AI-driven labor planning can prevent overstaffing by combining predictive analytics with internal and external conditions analyses. These systems, in other words, operate holistically to more effectively coordinate operations across all divisions, departments, and job functions in response to existing and expected needs.

The result is greater efficiency and reliability in the supply chain, an enhanced customer experience, and a better overall working environment for warehouse workers, distributors, and shippers alike.

Instituting AI Technologies in Your Warehouse Processes

Integrating AI into your warehouse organizational processes requires some planning. The good news, though, is that you are likely to meet with significant approval from your team, who are likely to have already recognized the immense value of technological innovation in warehouse operations.

The key is to clearly define the short-term and long-range goals to want and expect to achieve with each technology you adopt. Do your research to confirm that your expectations for each innovation are plausible and cost-effective. Then, establish your priorities. A strategic, systematic conversion to AI is likely to be more efficient and effective than a sweeping transformation.

The Takeaway

Optimizing your warehouse’s organizational processes is not easy, but with the integration of artificial intelligence systems, you can achieve improvements in efficiency and productivity that you might never have dreamed possible. AI systems can help managers define optimal inventory and distribution strategies. Remote sensors can track products across the supply chain, enhancing agility and responsiveness at each stage. Learning warehouses can optimize picking and shipping processes by analyzing customer behavior, market trends, and other relevant external conditions. AI technologies can even facilitate workforce planning, helping to prevent staffing shortages or surpluses across every division and job function, resulting in a superlative customer experience and a more efficient and harmonious work environment.

*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.

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Warehouses are at the core of order fulfillment. The quality of your delivery can only be as good as the extent of your warehouse’s efficiency. If you are not running a tight ship at the warehouse and making each second count, you will have difficulty with receiving inventory in time, shipping your order as per customer expectations, extracting optimal worker productivity, and managing your costs.

The faster things move at the warehouse, the happier your customers will be and the lower your costs become, all of which feeds back to more growth for your business. Here are some practical time-saving tips that can help you get the most out of your warehouse.

1. Set Aside Space for High Volume Product

Different products will have different levels of order volume. Many times, products will follow the 80-20 principle. The majority of deliveries will involve just a couple of products. Instead of giving equal treatment and space to all products, it would be more efficient to allocate warehouse space and other resources in line with order volume.

If you are running warehouse management software, you can access reports that show you the products that comprise the majority of orders. Next, set aside a section of the warehouse for your high-volume products that would allow your staff to process orders with minimal distractions. No need for them to move back and forth past stretches of low-volume products in order to reach the high-volume items.

Ideally, this high order volume section should be nearest to the packing stations so your pickers are walking shorter distances per order. If you’re using dynamic slotting, consider adding extra physical space around these shelves to accommodate shifting patterns of greater traffic.

2. Organize Workstations and Layout for the Workflow

Setting aside dedicated space is not the only way the arrangement of your warehouse can help cut down processing times. Think about inventory receipt and customer order workflows when determining the layout and the arrangement of workstations at the warehouse. Minimize the amount of time workers spend looking for tools, reaching out for equipment or handing orders to the next team by ensuring employee workstations are positioned near the resources, departments and vendors they work with.

Workstation organization also helps reduce clutter, minimize errors, lower inventory loss, break bottlenecks, slash pick-up times, maximize storage use, enhance safety and strengthen the overall organization. Yes, that’s a lot. But if you doubt any of those claims, it’s time to reorganize your picking stations.

3. Leaner Inventory

Lean inventory is not just a good strategy for manufacturing. It is just as important for warehouse operations. Aside from space, cost, and cash flow benefits that come with maintaining only as much product as you need, there are time savings as well.

Think about the time it takes to work your way around a warehouse with thousands of boxes compared to one with hundreds. Leaner inventory ensures you can get to what you need quicker and have the product out the door faster by minimizing the distances staff have to move to process orders. The difference of dozens of seconds or a couple of minutes may not seem much on its own but these micro-savings quickly add up in the grand scheme of performance.

While an industry-wide best practice before COVID, we now see some threats here. So the new lean goal is to have enough product to fill orders through the longest lead time you’ve experienced for a resupply.

4. Automation

Human error and fatigue are key barriers to timely fulfillment. The lower the degree of human intervention in the process, the higher the capability to fulfill orders in good time. Automation here would be in both mechanical and software form. You could, for instance, install a conveyor belt to speed up the process of moving items from one section of the warehouse to another.

Invest in warehouse management software as well that enables both high-level and detailed views of warehouse activity and inventory in near real-time. Such systems also enhance efficiency by identifying the most ideal methods and routes for fulfillment. They can send out automated notifications to smartphones and other mobile devices thus cutting down the time it would take to manually distribute pick lists.

5. Plan for Reverse Logistics

The warehouse is not all about receiving fresh inventory from manufacturers/distributors and sending out products to customers. As long as the warehouse is aiding the fulfillment of online orders, there will be returns when a customer finds that the product was not as per their expectation. There will also be recalls due to defects as well as returns from end-of-life products.

Known as reverse logistics, this process can introduce hurdles if not well managed even if your outbound process is working seamlessly. Everything is, after all, happening under the same roof so inefficiencies in reverse logistics will inevitably affect the time you dedicate to outbound fulfillment.

Address reverse logistics by developing effective intake, repair and/or recycling mechanisms for returns. Set aside space to inspect returns and determine whether the item should be placed back in inventory, repaired, recycled or disposed of at a discount.

6. Review Performance Regularly

Warehouse activity will not remain at the same level all year. For instance, the products classified as high volume won’t necessarily be static. It is possible for you to have a different set of products at a high volume at the end of the year compared to the beginning of the year. Regularly evaluate your warehouse operations and explore ways of making the process more efficient.

If you do not regularly review activity and performance, what may have been set up to improve efficiency may gradually become a barrier to maximizing time savings. By identifying emerging inefficiencies, you can make changes as and where needed to make things better.

Identify and set key performance indicators that become benchmarks for your routine reviews. Make adjustments when performance falls below the desired target including applying new ideas for inventory management.

Wrapping Up

These tips for improving warehouse efficiency are relatively straightforward. Some of them such as planning the layout and setting aside space for high order products require hardly any investment to do. Get all these six right and observe your warehouse efficiency rise as turnaround times fall.

*This article is written by Jake Rheude. Jake is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of eCommerce. He has years of experience in eCommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

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