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

Posts tagged “value-added services

The True Value Adders – 3PL Service Providers

3PLs and their clients share a unique relationship. When a prospective client is sourcing for a potential firm to do business with, they are looking for a variety of key business offerings. To meet this demand, 3PL firms offer a number of key services to ensure their clients’ companies receive stellar service and increased value to the bottom line:

Expertise3PL Value Adds

A 3PL firm offers a high level of expertise in logistics and operations, resulting in a reduction of time, an improvement in carrier management, order tracking efficiencies, shipment visibility and reduced risk.

Analysis

Analyzing networks is a key process that cannot be avoided. 3PL firms are able to provide a detailed analysis of distribution and inventory while being able to make changes along the way. This keeps all changes, production and other factors up-to-date and removes the responsibility from the employees that may not have the know-how to do a thorough in-house analysis.

Cost-Containment

3PL firms have the ability to provide information on all production issues and ineffective processes, including having the ability to employ corrective measures within certain boundaries.

Strategic Capacity

3PL firms are able to strategically measure, evaluate and employ methods that will cater to an organization’s needs according to price and level of service. They are capable at resolving any issues and demands when analyzing and executing these methods using a large carrier network.

Compliance

No shipping organization can go without supply chain management. 3PL have the ability to create a reporting platform that will communicate with supply chain partners in a timely and accurate manner while providing objective feedback to improve processes.

Load Optimization

3PLs are able to give information on cost-savings achieved through load optimization based on times, dates and shipping details provided. This helps optimize all shipments, removing the in-house responsibility.

Systems Support

3PLs are able to provide adequate systems support, coordinating results with the expectations of current and future customers.

Reduction of Risks

3PLs are able to evaluate and diminish easily identifiable risks, giving perspectives on how to develop a program to address those risks that are harder to pinpoint and resolve.

In a general sense, these are some key business services that many 3PLs offer and should help organizations when determining whether or not their firm is making a difference in their bottom line and serving all their needs. 3PLs after all are proven experts in the field and a highly professional and experienced one can take care of all your logistics needs.

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Intricacies of Providing Warehouse Fulfillment Services

Having a consistent, well-structured fulfillment system in place is crucial to grow and increase profits for your organization.  The fulfillment process is lengthy, resulting in many areas where errors can occur.  Having a well thought-out and organized system that allows every employee to follow the same procedures each and every time will result in lower operating costs, especially when it comes to training employees in an industry that has a high employee turnover rate.  Let’s have a look at some areas where best practices can be put into place.

Fulfillment Services

Fulfillment Metrics

If you can’t measure it, then it can’t be improved on.  Since labor is one of the most expensive factors in operations, it’s important to set up Key Performance Indicators to measure labor hours to orders fulfilled.  Compare your measurements to your industry’s ‘Best In Class’ so you know where to improve.  Some common KPIs are ‘Cost Per Order’, ‘Order Accuracy’, ‘Inventory Accuracy’ and ‘Shipping Accuracy’.  KPIs are one of the best ways to monitor and improve on workflow.

Staff Retention and Training

Since labor is one of the most expensive operating costs, it’s imperative to have a great culture that reduces the employee turnover rate.  Create a formal training program, recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond their expected duties or who recommend cost saving ideas.  Provide feedback on a regular basis and incorporate raises and bonuses on a consistent basis.

Managers are an important asset in the fulfillment process.  Establish regular meetings to communicate changes that need to be relayed to employees, and set up a program that allows managers and employees to design a career path for themselves.  Let all employees be made aware of possible career opportunities and training courses that they could apply to.

Warehouse Capacity

It can be well worth the money to have an expert do an assessment of your warehouse to find ways to improve and increase the capacity of your facility.  In the long run, this can be much cheaper than moving to another warehouse and disrupting customer service.  A warehouse automation system is a must to compete in today’s marketplace and having one will help to increase capacity, fulfill orders in a timely and accurate manner and reduce costs per order.

RFID Technology     

Keeping track of and organizing inventory is a key component of any fulfillment process.  If you haven’t already implemented RFID in your inventory tracking, you soon will.  This is fast becoming an industry norm for the following reasons:

  • Inventory is continually monitored, resulting in less inventory shrinkage due to theft and misplacement.
  • Sorting and picking for orders are improved since RFID rags are read via radio frequencies so it is important how products are placed.  This can result in more effective utilization of warehouse space.
  • Products are monitored through the entire supply chain.  This reduces the time required to count products while loading and unloading, and lead time is reduced for arrival of an order.
  • Interruptions in supply can be more easily identified.  RFID technology is a necessity to reduce inventory costs for perishable items.
  • As soon as inventory levels reach a low level, an automatic order can be sent out.
  • Sales information is collected in real time and can be very useful to make intelligent business decisions to improve the profitability of your organization.

Conclusion

Create a performance evaluation to review your fulfillment process every six months.  Encourage employees to contribute to this evaluation and suggest improvements.  Consistently monitor your KPIs and incorporate ‘red flags’ into the KPI reporting so issues can be addressed quickly.  Being able to identify costly mistakes immediately will go a long way towards increasing business and profitability.

Sources:

http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3999-How-to-Monitor-Prevent-Fulfillment-Errors

http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/retail/master-in-store-fulfillment-think-like-a-warehouse-1061312/

http://www.fcbco.com/articles-and-whitepapers/articles/bid/129442/Trends-Best-Practices-and-Metrics-in-Fulfillment

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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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