Is Your 3PL Capable of Achieving 100% Accuracy?
Updated on May 19, 2021
With such a competitive landscape, 3PLs who understand their customers’ needs and deliver on their promises of superior customer service can quickly separate themselves from the pack, and position themselves ahead of the competition. Whether fulfillment is a smaller part of your warehouse business or a main driver for growth, you need to deliver the best warehouse pick and pack practices to attain maximum productivity and exceed customer expectations.
To help you achieve these goals, we’ve compiled a checklist of best practices that enable People, Process, and Technology in your warehouse. When implemented, your warehouse will be optimized to deliver on customer expectations without worry.
Pick and Pack Best Practices:
It’s important that your warehouse staff are set-up to succeed. To determine if your staff have the best shot at perfection, ask the following questions:
Are you integrating experienced warehouse personnel with new, temporary or seasonal employees?
- Pro tip: Workers of a feather tend to flock together. By integrating experienced workers among seasonal and temporary workers, you create opportunities for team members to learn from peers and grow internal knowledge of warehouse processes. Keen warehouse experience is invaluable – encourage teams to share it.
Are you encouraging line staff to constantly think about and provide feedback as to how warehouse processes can be improved?
- Pro tip: Scheduling regular meetings to discuss worker recommendations can lead to new innovations that can dramatically increase warehouse profitability.1
Are you providing all employees with formal job descriptions? This will clarify their roles and responsibilities and allow employees to better perform.2
Are you clearly articulating the importance of speed, accuracy, and efficiency in warehouse training? Key drivers like these will help staff develop a growth mindset and grow with the business.
Have you invested in an experienced supervisor who can manage and improve all aspects of your warehouse floor?1
Have you given managers sufficient authority to approve changes or procedural overrides? Minor questions on the warehouse floor can lead to major slowdowns. Proper training on how to address issues can provide more effective personnel.
Your overall productivity is the sum of your combined operational processes. A single inefficiency or improvement will be multiplied exponentially day after day. To determine if your pick and pack processes and procedures are following industry best practices, ask the following questions:
WAREHOUSE PICKING PROCESSES:
Do you know how long it takes your pickers to find and deliver SKUs for packing?
- Pro tip: Observe and record the amount of travel time it takes pickers to find their SKUs. Travel time can easily account for 50% or more of order picking hours.3
Do you have software, such as a Warehouse Management System, that consolidates all orders from various sales channels and generates a pick list with locations for every order?
Do you have a specific pick location for every SKU? Mixing multiple SKUs in the same bin location has been shown to reduce picking productivity.3
Do you employ different picking techniques like zone picking, batch picking, or wave picking to increase efficiency?4
Does your warehouse store the fastest-moving SKUs as close to ground level as possible?3
Are you storing your fastest-moving SKUs relatively close to one another? This can improve efficiency in the case of multiple-SKU orders - which is especially true if your warehouse offers kitting where items are grouped, packaged, and supplied together as one unit.
- Pro tip: Create a warehouse within a warehouse: You can gain tremendous efficiency by grouping together the 20 percent of your SKUs that complete 80 percent of your orders. This cuts down on travel time for your pickers. Be sure, however, that the 80/20 area or zone is properly designed to accommodate high-volume activity.5
Are your pickers separating items by pick type (i.e., batch, individual or bin) to improve speed and accuracy at the packing tables?5
WAREHOUSE PACKING PROCESSES:
Do you have formalized workflow procedures for your packing stations?
- Pro Tip: Have your packers perform their tasks facing away from each other (as opposed to face to face). This cuts down on chatting and distractions, improving their speed and accuracy.5
Are packers forced to make extraneous movements to complete their routine tasks?
- Pro Tip: Casually observe your packers to see if they are forced to walk around or reach for additional items on a regular basis. If orders are taking more than 10 seconds to fulfill on average, determine why.5
Does your warehouse employ automated packing software? And is this software located within easy reach of all of packing employees?
Are you providing pre-printed packing lists and receipts — with verified addresses?
Are all items that are fully ready to be shipped clearly marked (e.g., verified addresses, printed receipts, and cleared of any holds)? 5
Are all items that need further assistance clearly marked (e.g., unverified address, hold for any reason, or need for additional customer service input)? 5
Is your warehouse packing station properly set up so staff have quick and easy access to all of the materials they need to fulfill items (e.g. tape, boxes, invoices, shipping labels, poly bags, cards, ribbons, etc.)? 2
- Pro-Tip: make sure the packaging material is easy to access, rather than inside a tough-to-reach-inside box. Always put the same materials in the same place on the packing supplies’ shelving units.6
Have you considered custom kitting strategies to improve speed and efficiency?1
Do warehouse packers have easy access to a conveyer belt or wheeled cart for outbound packages?6
Do packers have easy access to an inline or platform scale?
Ready to get started? Download the Pick and Pack Process checklist to get the best practices warehouses can use to optimize efficiency and deliver on customer expectations.
The right technology can save your warehouse enormous amounts of time and money – while increasing accuracy and profitability. To determine if your picking and packing technology is on par with today’s standards, ask the following:
Does your warehouse use mobile barcode scanners to improve speed, reduce manual errors, and increase accuracy during both picking and packing?
- Pro-tip: Using the latest technology is particularly impressive to high-tech and eCommerce prospects. Be sure to highlight your most cutting-edge tech during prospect warehouse tours.
Are warehouse scanners fully integrated with your WMS and billing software?
Can your scanner technology support lot number, serial number capture, expiration date and/or pallet ID?
Does your WMS software enable hands-free packing?
- Pro tip: Observe your packing team for one hour. Count how many times they touch a mouse or keyboard. Each touch adds a significant amount of time to the overall process.6
Are you able to create custom shipping or UCC-128 labels?
Can your WMS create customer-specific rules for custom workflows, billing, tasks, and document creation?
Are you able auto-calculate package weight, assign dimensions, or tare weight?
Is your warehouse able to verify order completion and packing accuracy for every order?
Can your software integrate with multiple shipping and delivery partners?
Does your software support real-time carrier rate shopping?
Does your WMS support multiple shipping and delivery billing methods?
Does your warehouse regularly perform inventory audits or cycle counts?
Building the Perfect Pick and Pack Process for 3PLs
Start your warehouse on the path of 100% picking and packing accuracy. Download Building the Perfect 3PL Pick and Pack Process checklist to get the best practices warehouses can use to optimize efficiency and deliver on customer expectations.