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Warehousing - A Look Behind The Scenes

18 March, 2015

Warehousing encompasses various areas of focus, that all need to seamlessly work together to run a successful operation. Here’s a brief explanation about the functions involved.

Receiving and Inspection

The receiving and inspection department’s main responsibility is to accept all of the inbound goods that will be stored in the warehouse and eventually distributed out as order requests are made. The department check that they are receiving the correct products and inspect for any damages of the materials.

This process takes place in the dock space of the warehouse, which is oftentimes the busiest section of the warehouse. When large shipments arrive simultaneously, the space inside and outside the docking area can become congested while trucks are unloading or waiting to unload. Managing the various dock stations, equipment and staff can be a challenging task.

Product Handling and Putaway

This process involves the movement of the products from the receiving docks to the location in the warehouse where they will be stored. This is generally accomplished with the use of lift trucks moving pallets of goods, but in certain industries can also be carried out with conveyer systems or automated guided vehicle systems (AGVS).

Slotting

Slotting in the warehousing industry is the actual placement of products to assigned areas in the warehouse. This takes thoughtful foresight regarding the quantity of the materials and when they will need to be accessed. The goal is to maximize the available storage space, and minimize the amount of times inventory will need to be moved around. This requires strategic planning of product location so as to decrease how often products are blocked-in by other products, making them inaccessible when it comes time to reship them.

Inventory Control

This activity is responsible for the tracking of the products as they move through the warehouse. It is important to account for the total quantity of products within the warehouse, know where they are, and update this data as products are ordered, shipped out, and when new inventory is received. Ii is important for inventory control systems to be put into place to maintain inventory accuracy.

Picking and Packing

When customer orders come in for products that are being stored within the warehouse, the process of locating, pulling the product from storage, and packing it for shipment is called picking and packing. Pick strategies vary depending on the quantity and type of items being ordered, which will also dictate whether the packing will involve pallets, cartons, or single unit packaging.

Shipping

A part of the warehousing process that people are most familiar with is shipping. We see it all the time when ordering anything online in the ‘total price + shipping’ details. Shipping is the process of transporting the goods from the warehouse to the customer, and includes the infrastructure that supports the delivery. This includes order sheets, labeling, barcode readers, tracking systems, and the transportation vehicles being used for deliveries such as trucks, air cargo, railway, and ocean freight.

Warehouse Management System

All of the above processes are meticulously tracked and documented with the use of warehouse specific software that makes it possible to effectively manage the business operations. Each step of the way, the Warehouse Management System (WMS) is updating and reporting important data that supports the seamless movement of goods from receiving, to slotting, to packing and shipping to the final destination.