If your automotive warehouse is having trouble fulfilling orders, you’re not alone. Customers want their products faster than ever before, usually in just a couple of days or less, which puts added pressure on your warehouse workers. This can lead to costly mistakes and poor inventory accuracy.
Across all industries, order fulfillment costs equal 70 percent of the total order value. That’s a steep price to pay just to make sure your products arrive on time. If fulfillment costs get any higher, they will start to eat into your profits.
With customer expectations on the rise, you need to find a way to increase order fulfilment efficiency without increasing your budget. Use these tips to speed up the process without making mistakes along the way.
Streamline Your Data
You can’t improve your existing operations without access to data. Your workers should scan individual items as they make their way to the loading dock and, eventually, their final destination, to make sure they’re going in the right place.
A recent survey of supply executives shows that around 79 percent of respondents said they use several information capture mechanisms to fulfill orders, while more than two-thirds said they use more than one order fulfillment system. Using separate systems to capture and track orders can lead to problems and costly mistakes.
You should be able to access all your supply chain in one place, so information doesn’t slip between the cracks. This also makes it easier to send and share information with your clients and business partners. Some order fulfillment systems may use a different model or format to capture information, which leads to processing errors down the line. Workers may have to enter information by hand if the system fails to transfer the data.
Using one system prevents these kinds of issues. Workers should be able to scan the item without second-guessing the system.
Anticipate Future Demand
Many automotive companies fail to properly utilize your order fulfillment data. The system should be able to analyze past and present demand for your goods to help you prepare for the future. A sudden spike in demand can throw your team off-guard, leading to poor inventory accuracy and on-the-job accidents. One automotive company was able to increase their order fulfillment rate by 57 percent using demand forecasting.
Find an order fulfillment system that helps you leverage these tools, so you can fill orders on your own schedule. If you wait to fill orders until the day of, you may not have enough workers on site to get everything out the door on time. The system should help you identify certain busy periods, so you can divvy up the work throughout the day to make it easier on your employees. Your team should be able to retrieve items and prepare them for shipment without feeling rushed for time.
Increase Product Visibility
Automotive warehouses tend to contain hundreds of thousands of different products, parts and supplies, including everything from fabrics to large aluminum frames and tiny screws that can easily go missing. Keeping track of all this inventory can be a challenge for facilities of all sizes.
Your warehouse management program should help you keep an accurate count of these items, but not everything makes its way into the system. Some items can easily fly under the radar without anyone being the wiser.
That’s why it’s important to increase visibility in the workplace. Your workers should be able to identify and inspect items at a glance without opening dozens of different containers. Use industrial wire baskets to keep your inventory visible on the shelf, so your workers can easily find the items they need without having to think twice. This should decrease product retrieval times, so your team can focus on preparing these goods for shipment.
Your workers should finish out the day by putting misplaced items back where they belong while organizing the products on the shelf to keep things accurate. Use a basket with wheels to move inventory from one side of your facility to the next without using a lift truck. They are perfect for handling larger parts and supplies, such as metal frames, car doors, speakers, computer systems and other high-ticket items.
Nothing will slow down your automotive facility like trash. It’s best to create as little of it as possible when fulfilling orders, but that can prove difficult for some companies. Many facilities are used to recycling hundreds of cardboard boxes day after day, while generating large volumes of trash that then has to be processed in a landfill.
These habits aren’t only bad for the environment; they’re bad for warehouse efficiency. Your workers may have to spend several minutes per order flattening boxes and wadding up shrink wrap when they could be fulfilling orders and inspecting merchandise.
Reduce your impact on the environment with reusable storage and shipping containers. Use a collapsible bulk container to quickly fill orders without having to group dozens of different packages together. You should be able to fit several orders and products in the container. This reduces the need for shrink wrap and other disposable shipping materials that just end up in the trash. The container should be designed to fit onto a pallet for less hassle during shipment.
Your workers can then fold up the container after they’ve delivered your products, which helps them keep track of what still needs to go out. This also creates more space in the truck and loading dock, so your workers aren’t right on top of each other.
Repeat and Adjust
Continue to adjust your operations over time and measure the results to make sure these changes are bringing you closer to your goals. Order fulfillment shouldn’t take up the lion’s share of your budget. Simplify the process to keep your goods moving.