Don’t get stuck with inventory you can’t move

Are you monitoring how inventory is moving?

Are you monitoring how inventory is moving?

If you’re accepting shipments into your loading docks but noticing you’re creating an even larger backlog of stock than you had before, you need to strategize how to offset your inventory without losing money.

According to Supply Chain Management Review, inventory pileup can happen as a result of managers trying to meet their revenue goals, which can cause them to order more. The problem is that they may get carried away with ordering too much inventory and may not be able to sell it off as quickly, leaving the potential for sunk inventory costs. This is why forecasting is so important when making inventory orders. According to the news provider, accuracies tend to be on the lower side in retail, which is why it’s important that this is not the only method of planning your inventory.

Forbes reports that visibility into the supply chain is key. If you’re able to see how well inventory is moving to the different loading docks of delivery, you can better predict whether certain goods are a beneficial investment, because you’ll be able to notice trends in demand. For example, if you’re seeing a certain product is moving out of the warehouse and out for delivery at a much faster rate than others, you’ll know what quantity to order to meet demand.

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Forklifts become safer to address warehouse concerns and needs

Warehouses try to ensure the forklifts used in the delivery area are the safest possible.

Warehouses try to ensure the forklifts used in the delivery area are the safest possible.

Material handling equipment has become safer and more efficient over the years, as warehouse managers look to improve efficiency while keeping their workers safe and driving costs down. With this trend, the kinds of forklifts that have come on and off the loading docks over the years have seen some significant changes.

According to BOSS Magazine, as more warehouses use forklifts in an effort to load materials on and off of the loading docks, there have been some changes in how they operate. The news provider reports that tires have changed over the years to make forklifts safer and less noisy. This also helps make the equipment less intense to deal with, benefiting operators and workers around the machinery. Additionally, the source reports that designers have been trying to make forklifts more compact and easy to maneuver, without sacrificing stability or safety in the newest designs.

Not only is forklift design becoming safer, but warehouse managers are putting an increasing emphasis on training. According to Safety and Health Magazine, nearly 100,000 injuries happen on a yearly basis related to forklifts. In an effort to keep a healthy workforce and keep workers compensation costs down, more managers have been requiring training not just for forklift operators, but also those in the surrounding areas.

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Shipments of asset trackers on the rise as businesses set priorities

Inventory trackers are making their way in more shipments.

Inventory trackers are making their way in more shipments.

Manually tracking all of the inventory that comes on and off of loading docks into the warehouse is critical for quality assurance and cost control. If you don’t have a good pulse on where your inventory is, you could be missing out on sales and may lose customers if you’re unable to fulfill orders.

The interesting trend analysts are noticing is that shipments of tracking technology is set to be on the rise as more companies make asset tracking a priority. According to DC Velocity, shipments of the asset tracking software is expected to grow from $22 million to $70 million by 2022. The news provider also reports that the technology used for asset tracking can vary, and each kind has its own pros and cons that business managers will need to weigh before selecting.

Still, the Small Business Chronicle reports that while different methods in inventory tracking can be a good thing, they all serve one common goal: to stay on top of a company’s biggest assets. Without effectively managing inventory, you could leave yourself susceptible to loss of future revenue, or may have to take a sunk cost if you’re unable to locate sellable products.

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Make safety a priority with forklift operations

Be aware on the loading dock when dealing with forklifts.

Be aware on the loading dock when dealing with forklifts.

Moving inventory on and off of the loading dock can be dangerous if you don’t have the right equipment and staff training. Anyone dealing with material handling should be well-versed in the different equipment that can be used to help reduce the burden of major orders.

Lift trucks are an integral part of the material handling equipment fleet that can help do the heavy lifting when dealing with large materials or quantities. However, Modern Materials Handling reports you need to have a strong training program in place in order to make sure that the equipment is being used safely. The source suggests interviewing people who have forklift experience when looking to fill roles, asking about their level of comfort with operation. The source also suggests creating a training program to help people brush up on their skills no matter how long they’ve been on the job.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, potential safety hazards you should always be aware of when operating a forklift include a falling load, an overturning forklift, collisions with other machines or workers. Not only should the forklift operators be aware of these hazards, but also any other employees who are in the warehouse.

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Inventory management is critical for a warehouse

Do you know what inventory is coming in the warehouse?

Do you know what inventory is coming in the warehouse?

Are you keeping track of the inventory that comes in and out of your loading dock accurately? When you’re a large operation, there are a lot of moving pieces to ensuring a good supply chain, but sometimes inventory management can be difficult, leaving managers wondering where inventory is at a given time, which could mean out on lost revenue if you’re unable to locate the goods.

According to Business 2 Community, you need to have proper systems in place in order to maintain strong inventory control. If you don’t, you will not be able to properly track what you currently have in stock and where a customer’s order might be. You need to improve your asset tracking in order to have a clearer picture of what is coming in, what’s out for delivery and what orders you can fulfill from the inventory you currently have.

You may also want to look at trends with inventory. According to Entrepreneur, 80 percent of consumer demand will come from only about 20 percent of your inventory. So if you’re seeing products fly off the shelves, you may want to do some analysis so you can better predict when you’ll need a new shipment of inventory in order to meet the demands of your customers.

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Take care when loading and unloading inventory

Take extra safety precautions on the loading dock.

Take extra safety precautions on the loading dock.

Loading inventory in and out of the warehouse requires a lot of attention to detail. Workers need to be able to guide trucks safely to and from the loading docks, ensure everything is secure and every safety precaution is being taken.

According to EHS Today, there are a number of safety concerns on the loading dock, so warehouse managers work to make sure that the proper precautions are taken, such as having physical barriers on the dock and visual safety reminders for anyone loading or unloading inventory. The news provider reports that barriers can not only help keep employees out of the way, but also protect the structural integrity of the delivery vehicle.

The news source also suggests being mindful of weight capacity on your loading dock, and knowing the weight of each piece of inventory to ensure you don’t go over capacity.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests another way to ensure safety is to paint the edges of the dock to enhance visibility. Additionally, the source recommends that the docks are kept clear and clean all times to avoid anyone from accidentally falling off or tripping as they’re handling inventory. These measures can help improve safety when managing inventory in and out of the warehouse.

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Think about ways to monetize service in addition to the products you offer

The kind of service you provide can also be a way to make money.

The kind of service you provide can also be a way to make money.

When you’re running a warehouse, you may notice that trends dictate the kind of inventory that’s rolled in on hand trucks. It’s critical that warehouse managers are a step ahead of consumer trends, so they aren’t stuck with excess inventory that’s difficult to sell.

Additionally, managers may want to think of ways to bring in revenue beyond the traditional means. According to the Manufacturer, it’s critical for manufacturers to think beyond the initial products and instead think about ways of monetizing the delivery. The news provider reports that companies are increasingly trying to think of ways to entice customers, not merely by providing products, but also a whole suite of how to enjoy them.

The news provider suggests offering services such as design, training on how to use the products and installation service in an effort to woo more customers into not only buying your products, but also adding on.

The Small Business Chronicle suggests thinking about the kinds of consumers you service and thinking about ways to address their needs. From a warehouse perspective, looking at location and determining what they would use your facilities for is a great way to brainstorm add on service ideas.

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Picking up in store could help traditional retail

Keeping inventory in the back room for pickup could continue to drive revenue.

Keeping inventory in the back room for pickup could continue to drive revenue.

With the move toward e-commerce, there has been a lot of talk that shoppers are leaving the stores in favor of never leaving their homes. Online shopping has become a part of every day life, and material handlers have had to adjust to how the warehouse is run in an effort to meet the needs of consumers.

However, delivering to the home may not be the only option, and the alternative could help physical stores. According to Material Handling and Logistics, having customers pick up their online purchases in store could actually help brick and mortar locations. The news provider points to incentives such as free shipping to the store or other discounts that could persuade the shopper to still make the trek to the store.

This means that hand trucks filled with inventory still need to be able to make their way to a store’s back room. According to the Commercial Appeal, grocery stores have been really taking this method to heart, by convincing customers to do their orders at home before coming into the store to collect their items. E-commerce giants such as Amazon have noted this trend and are looking to expand in the convenience grocery market.

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Warehouse workers and robots can work in harmony

Robots and workers can come together in the warehouse.

Robots and workers can come together in the warehouse.

There has been a lot of talk over robotics being used in the warehouse and the effect they’ll have on jobs. However, humans are still needed for sorting inventory off the hand trucks and ensuring orders go to the right location. Robots can help automated certain processes that can be redundant for your human employees.

According to DC Velocity, the push for warehouse robotics is for them to complement the work that warehouse employees are already doing and working in tandem. The news provider reports that while there may be a lack in jobs in the far future, as robotics technology becomes more advanced and the machines are able to pick up more skills, they aren’t going away anytime soon.

CNN Technology reports warehouses across the country are looking to make their operations more efficient, which is where robots come in. The news provider gives the example of a machine picking out items from a warehouse shelf, while a human packs the inventory into a box to make sure the order is precise. There is little room for error in the delivery business, and having an employee on-hand to do quality control is critical for keeping customers happy and business running efficiently.

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Don’t let inventory size get in the way of shipping efficiency

Don't overpack to make up for an item's shape.

Don’t overpack to make up for an item’s shape.

In the world of material handling, it can be common to wheel inventory that’s of an odd shape on hand trucks out of the warehouse. However, while it may take some maneuvering when moving it with material handling equipment, shipping odd shaped items can be even more of a challenge both in terms of efficiency and cost.

According to Modern Materials Handling, companies are increasingly putting a focus on measuring and weighing uniquely shaped inventory in an effort to reduce shipping costs. Sometimes when an item has a shape that can’t easily mold to a box, companies can risk over packaging in an effort to compensate. However, this can not only drive weight of the shipment up, but it can also add to the overall costs. As a result, managers need to be aware of the different ways they can make packaging more efficient.

Particularly with e-commerce, shipping efficiency should be a focus for most warehouse managers. According to Multichannel Merchant, the majority of companies are still struggling with meeting the expectations for delivery. The news provider also reports that 73 percent of survey respondents said they’re more likely to order from a company where they’ve had a positive shipping experience, so it’s another way to generate brand loyalty.

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