OK, let’s break down process into something we can all relate to. Has this ever happened to you? You order something from a fast food drive up window. The order entry employee verbally repeats your order and asks you to confirm that everything you see on the electronic screen looks right. You confirm and proceed to the pick-up window. You grab the bag, thank the individual in the window, and drive home. After you get home you look in the bag and darn it, your fries are missing or they gave the wrong sandwich.
For you this may not be the end of the world but if you are trying to grow your distribution or manufacturing business, you need to put procedures into place in order to ensure you are not introducing costly mistakes that affect every area of your business. This includes customer service, inventory purchasing or planning, accounting, production and more.
Here Are Some Suggestions
1.) Prioritize the Importance of the Receiver
So many times I have walked through warehouses and they have tons of boxes/pallets or products shoved into an area that is not well defined. When I inquire into this, I’ve heard anything and everything from we just did not have time to count everything and put it away to we don’t have enough personnel to handle this process immediately. Simply put, this is not good for business.
A designated receiving area is a must. Your employees responsible for receiving inventory should be properly trained and evaluated on their performance. They are the entry point of this inventory that you are responsible for selling!
2.) If You Are Not Yet Ready for a Wireless Solution Make Sure Your Processes and Paperwork Are Fine-Tuned
Obviously a real-time wireless WMS solution that automatically checks receipts to their corresponding purchase orders and allows you to handle problems in real-time will be of great benefit to you.
However if you are not quite there yet, you should, at minimum, match the shipping manifest to the purchase order. Then take it a step further and actually count the items (in other words don’t take the shipping manifest’s word for it.) If there is a discrepancy, this should be reported immediately to either a supervisor or the receiver should have control of the process to either refuse the shipment or make note of this right away to communicate to the outside supplier.
3.) Set Tolerances for What Is and Is Not Acceptable and Relay This To Your Receivers
Remember when you were a kid and your Mother said, “I will not tolerate this type of behavior.” You probably knew exactly how far you could push it until you got the shutdown. The same concept relates to receiving based on your vendor relationship.
This means you may receive a certain quantity over or under the expected amount while still noting this and informing your vendor. This also means you may have a specific quality control process to see if good are damaged. If goods are not acceptable, you can refuse the shipment.
4.) Make Sure Your Goods Are Labeled Correctly and If They Are Not, Do It Before You Put Them Away
Once you’ve gone through the trouble of counting and checking your products when they come in, you should take the extra step and make sure they are properly labeled before you put them away. This helps to ensure your pickers or material handlers are not selecting the wrong items which can be extremely costly to your business.
5.) Enter the Information As Quickly As Possible Into Your Accounting or ERP System
Again, using a real-time wireless scanning solution will help you to better maintain your inventory controls and accuracy. But if you are not there yet, at minimum you should have a PC available to enter the received inventory into the system. This way, everyone that needs to know about the inventory being received is updated.