Everything interesting, new and useful about the logistics and 3PL Industry

Archive for February, 2014

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ViewPoint Logistics Product Info. Infographic

ViewPoint Logistics Product Infographic

Check out our neat ViewPoint Logistics Product Infographic!

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Voice-Picking Technology in Warehouse Management

Voice-picking technology for warehouse management has been in use for two decades. However, recent advancements in the third-party logistics software (3PL) have made these centralized warehouse systems much more efficient. Also known as voice-directed warehouse management (VDW), this kind of software was conceived so that warehouse pickers could work with their hands and eyes free from clipboard and tablet-related constraints.

Modern 3PL software takes 1990s VDW to an incredible new level, because it allows not only voice picking but also inventory, billing and order management. Thanks to this type of software, warehouse management has become a much more streamlined, efficient and safe process.

How Voice Picking Works

Speech recognition and synthesis technologies are at the heart of voice picking software. These systems have become infinitely more effective over the course of the last 20 years, which means that 3PL software today can identify specific warehouse workers and keep itemized data. For the software to work, warehouse pickers are outfitted with their own small computer device and an ear piece; the computer works as a mobile receiver and transmitter to relay data to and from the centralized source. When an individual picker receives a message or a work order, he or she will hear the message out loud and respond the same way. This system works over a radio frequency on a local area network.

3PL Software in the Warehouse and the Office

The primary reason why 3PL software has become a best practice guideline for warehouse managers is simple: It raises productivity and keeps data organized. Instead of centralized management that relies on constant group and one-on-one meetings with pickers and other employees, managers have a central unit that sends messages, schedules and inventory data wherever it needs to go.

This is especially helpful when the office and the warehouse are not in the same location, as is the case with many companies. The amount of scheduling, rescheduling, messaging and stock takes can turn into a mountain of paperwork, which can become lost and disorganized. Paper-free is not only an environmentally sound option for warehousing companies, but it is a more organized way to do business.

Benefits and Voice-Picking Setup

The benefits of using 3PL software are the range of high-tech companies who have great products to offer. Much of today’s top voice-recognition software is open-sourced, which means that you are not cornered into purchasing from one company with the only high-functioning yet expensive software. Your choices are broad, and allow you to make sure that the system you are buying really has what your particular organization needs.

Each individual picker will need to be outfitted with his or her own computer and headset, as well as attend training to learn how to use them. Managers will also need to undergo a training session to understand how to communicate with pickers on the floor. It’s a simple process that may need to be repeated as the software gets updated and more advanced; but productivity will increase overall.

Voice-picking software is especially effective for frozen warehouse units, since workers need to wear thick clothing and gloves that inhibit them from effectively handling paper invoices and operating tablets. Furthermore, keeping warehouse pickers in full control of their eyes and hands will ensure that they are more aware of their surroundings, thus lowering the rate of injuries.

3PL is a sound, modern choice for warehouse management.

Sources:

http://www.voicepicking.com/

http://www.voxware.com/in-your-world/voice-picking-in-the-warehouse/

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Warehouse Performance Metrics

In today’s high-tech environment, warehouse managers have an overwhelming abundance of data to analyze and use to determine how to improve their warehouse operations.  Without metrics, there really is no way to know what is and isn’t working in a warehouse.  The ability to set goals for delivery times, machine utilization, warehouse capacity, customer service and quality of data and analyzing if the goals were met can make a major difference in a company’s profitability.  To best work through the data, the most important step is to decide which metrics to gather, analyze and report on.  Metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) can be gathered to report on such items as inventory, order fulfillment and operations.

Implementing a third party logistics (3PL) solution can integrate your operations, distribution, fulfillment and trucking services to provide timely, intelligent data.  This data can be mined so you can create the KPIs necessary to make the business decisions that will help you to be on the competitive leading edge.  Measuring the metrics against your goals will help you to make more intelligent business decisions.  When you’re trying to improve operations, consider the following KPIs that you can generate to monitor and measure the performance of your warehouse.

Top KPIs

Supplier On-time Delivery. This KPI provides important information on deliveries that were on time and how many arrived late.  Best in class is ≥ 99.8 percent, median is 98.5 percent.

Internal Order Cycle Time. This KPI is measured from the time an order is placed to the moment it gets shipped.  It is used to measure the pick-pack-ship efficiency of the warehouse. The objective is to minimize the percentage. Best in class is < 3 hrs, median is 13 hrs.

Dock-To-Stock Cycle Time. This cycle time measures the time from the start of a receipt to the time that putaway is complete.  This is an important KPI to measure the performance of inbound activities.  Best in class is < 2 hrs, median is 6 hrs.

Order Picking Accuracy. Order picking is the most costly and labor intensive function in a warehouse.  This measurement is critical to monitor for the success of warehouse operations.  It is also an important factor when delivering high customer service. It is the percentage of pick lines picked without errors, and the objective is to maximize the percentage.  Best in class is ≥ 99.9 percent, median is 99.5 percent.

Lines Picked and Shipped per Hour. This KPI is also important to measure to ensure high customer service.  It is based on the number of lines picked and packed/total labor warehouse hours.  Best in class is ≥ 74.2 percent, median is 28 percent .

Order Fill Rate. This KPI percentage is based on the number of items ordered to the items shipped.  The fill rate can be calculated on numerous items, such as SKU, case or on a value basis.  The best in class for items ordered to shipped is ≥ 99.8 percent, median is 98.3 percent.

Peak Warehouse Capacity. This KPI measures the amount of warehouse capacity used during a peak season.  It is expressed as a percentage of storage space that have products in them.  Best in class is ≥ 100.0 percent, median is 95 percent, but it also depends on how the product is received.  The best in class for average warehouse capacity is ≥ 91.2 percent, median is 84.9 percent.

Annual Work Force Turnover. This KPI is calculated by taking the total number of employees who resign, plus employees terminated, and divide that total by the number of employees at the beginning of the year.  Best in class is < 1 percent, median is 5 percent.

When you embark on an initiative to report on metrics, you will want to compare your KPIs against the best in class so you can identify the underperforming measures.  This will ensure that you are in a good position to know where to improve so your company can grow and stay ahead of your competitors.

Resources:

http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/warehouse-metrics-measure-what-matters/

http://www.eiminstitute.org/library/eimi-archives/volume-1-issue-5-july-2007-edition/measuring-the-data-warehouse

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