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Warehousing Myth: Accuracy Takes Too Much Time

Frustrated businessman surrounded by inventory

One of the most frequently heard comments in a poorly run warehouse is, “It takes too much time to stop and record where product was placed.” The problem with that statement is that just the opposite is true. A well run warehouse is efficient and productive, but only because time and care is taken to make sure the system knows where everything is.

A computer is the fastest filing system in the world. If you need to know where to go to find something, ask the computer. I can guarantee you that the computer is faster than walking up and down the aisles trying to find something. It is also faster than finding Joe (who knows everything), and asking him. First of all, Joe might be on vacation, so what do you do then? Joe might may have gone to the restroom, so you have to wait for him to come back. But worst of all, what if Joe wins the lottery and decides sipping drinks on a beach sounds a lot better than keeping track of inventory in his head?

Seriously though, it is a fact that taking the time to accurately record in the computer where product is placed leads to a more efficient warehouse. The computer tells you exactly where to go to pick the product. If you have a good computer system, it can even provide you with the most efficient route to pick the inventory you need. Most importantly, by creating a process that assures accurate inventory, you never play the game of look-and-find. More time is lost in a warehouse trying to find inventory than any other non-value added activity.

Do the math for yourself. Assume you add a handful of seconds to the process you use to put inventory away. There are tools to minimize this time, but let’s assume you have to do the reporting manually. You have to record someplace where you put the item, and then you have to enter into the system where you put it. In most computer systems, there are tools that turn this into a few seconds task to update several items that were received.

Now compare that to the time you spend when just one item can’t be found. You know you have them, but you can’t find them. Depending on the size of your warehouse, this becomes a chore of walking around the warehouse until you find it. What is worse is the occasion where you don’t find it, and your customer goes without receiving what they need.

Now let’s talk about physical inventory. Physical inventory, when you know exactly where your product is, is a piece of cake. You get count sheets that tell you where to go and what to count. You know where the product is, so when you go to count it, you get a list of all the places it should be. I have seen companies shut down for a week to do a physical inventory because they don’t know where they store the product. If they count and don’t know where the “rest of the product is,” they have to spend hours or days counting and recounting, looking and searching.

Having spent 25 years managing warehouses, I can assure you that the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” is true. Spending a few seconds making sure you accurately record where you put your product will make your warehouse incredibly efficient and cost effective. Build accuracy into your processes (even if they are manual), and you will receive huge pay backs in productivity.

Need help getting your warehousing processes in order? Talk to the experts at ArcherPoint.

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