In the previous article we talked about how your WMS is used to evolve the ideal process for each warehouse activity. By doing this you provide a foundation for greatly improved performance in each area. You’ll also provide a framework of essential discipline to maintain the integrity of the process. This means not only that correct practice is followed, but also that any exceptions are dealt with by ‘sub-processes’, which are equally firm and disciplined.

In the area of putaway it’s an assumption that goods whose details have been recorded can be simply put away. But even when you’re working with real-time RF and system directed putaway (don’t even consider man-made decisions) your system will need built-in process variations to ensure optimum performance in that area. The putaway routine itself could also depend on the nature of the receiving process; it may be a single stage receipt and putaway, receipt, marshalling and delayed putaway or any number of QC variations resulting in partial or delayed putaway.

However done, once a system putaway instruction is picked up the process must allow for situations where, for example, space is unavailable due to damage, or previous malpractice. It may only be a question of requesting a new system location (never a user chosen one!), but ideally the problem should be logged for investigation in real time. This may involve using a short term sin bin location for the pallet while central alert functions allow supervisors to investigate and manage any problems. 

Emphasis must be on continued reduction of such issues. Though inevitable at times, each one you log and investigate leads to improved future performance. As a result your process becomes streamlined with clear, firm procedures for dealing with exceptions if they occur. The result is a highly efficient process which is robust enough to maintain performance regardless of movement volumes.

You may also be interested in: Warehouse Performance Part Two: Analysing historical data