How do you optimize the shipping process?
As the final step in the warehousing process, shipping could be considered the key factor in the quality of your customer’s experience. It’s not as simple as moving product from point a to point b, however. The shipping process is comprised of small, often complex tasks that must be accomplished on time to ensure fast and accurate delivery.
Since shipping is the final step before your customer receives their order, it is important to recognize that every process in your facility has a direct impact on shipping. From ordering to receiving to putaway to picking – every step builds towards shipping.
With all of that in mind, let’s talk about how to set up a shipping operation, including the best processes, software options, and workflows.
The Shipping Process
To reiterate, every step leads to shipping. This means that picking and packing are vital parts of the shipping process. Picking should be done ahead of shipping time, ideally. With a smart picking process, your pickers can enjoy error-free results that are passed on to the customer. After items are picked, they must then be packed and labeled accordingly. If the picked items are fragile, make sure you are packing with protective materials [dunnage link].
Some goods may need documentation — export declarations, seafood tags, and hazardous goods all have their own rules. Your shipping and receiving software needs to account for these factors. Make sure your WMS can alert you of or produce these necessary documents.
The dimensions and weight of orders might matter, as well. Your system needs to measure weight and dimensions before shipping occurs. An inline scale and dimensioner solution integrated into your warehouse and WMS allows the cargo to continuously move while you capture that data. This is crucial for speedy and accurate delivery.
Before your orders can ship, they need to be labeled. This ties into the final step before a package can leave — finding the right carrier. Your WMS could determine the optimal carrier for your orders, based on affordability, efficiency, or any other factors.
All of these factors lead to orders leaving the dock. Speaking of docks – larger facilities usually have dedicated receiving and shipping docks, but smaller facilities might have to share their space. If this is the case, having separate dock shifts is the best solution. Either way, keeping your dock clean of clutter and dirt is a necessity — for efficient shipping processes as well as employee safety.
Dealing with Shipping Woes
With so many moving parts involved in shipping, bumps in the road are unavoidable. Many things can ground your warehouse to a halt, which can include:
Manual, semi-, and fully automated facilities will face challenges like these. When it comes to shipping, having solutions for these issues is key to keeping products flowing out your docks. If your shipping area layout is overflowing with clutter, you create dangerous conditions that can slow you down and hurt your employees. There are many ways you can safeguard your areas dedicated to shipping and receiving. Examples include scheduling clean-up into shifts for your personnel.
To avoid shortages during peak times, utilize a WMS that provides analytical data of your past orders, labor resources, and stuck points. With the right WMS, like WAMAS, you can track your inventory and labor resources to avoid recurring bottlenecks.
Want more Information? Contact us to speak with a supply chain expert!