Why a paperless warehouse environment is the best choice
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Before the advent of digitization, businesses traditionally used a paper-based system to track their warehouse operations. Thanks to technological developments, environmental factors, and productivity improvements, more companies are starting to move to a paperless warehouse. But there are still a large number of businesses who still rely on a paper process who are reluctant to change from a paper process.
As the traditional paper based methods were so entrenched, companies have tended to defer making the transition to a paperless warehouse. Many warehouses were designed to be run solely on paper based record management. Invoices, work schedules, bill of materials, routing, receipts, material sheets – most things were maintained through paper. The initial effort and cost of transitioning to paperless can therefore seem to be a bit daunting for a traditionally managed paper based warehouse.
The emergence of warehouse management systems (WMS), barcode scanners, and mobile applications give every company easy to implement options to make the move to tracking and maintaining business-critical information digitally. For businesses today, there are multiple benefits to making the switch to a completely paperless warehouse environment.
Most companies understand that eliminating paper is critical to better warehouse operations, but there are several advantages that may not be completely obvious. Here are the most important reasons to consider making the digital transition and eliminating paper based warehouses processes:
A paperless warehouse is a more accurate warehouse. The paperless approach minimizes mistakes and flags issues in real-time, resulting in fewer reporting delays and highly accurate data entry and record management. With a barcode scanner or similar handheld device, the accuracy of your warehouse will increase to more than 99%. For large scale warehouse operations, tracking orders and shipments with standalone computers or paper-based processes will lead to a higher rate of error occurence.
A warehouse management solution utilizing barcode scanners will increase the visibility into your warehouse so workers can always see what’s happening at any moment in the warehouse. Knowing the location of every item of inventory is no longer a difficult exercise, prone to human error. With barcoding software and devices, warehouse staff have a far more efficient way of tracking shipments and resources as they enter and exit the warehouse.
Greater visibility improves the ability to manage complexity in warehouse operations, as goods move within the warehouse and even in a multi warehouse environment. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) offer extensive reporting functions to track each activity in the warehouse, providing detailed information which is updated in real time.
Paper-based systems are labor and resource intensive – it takes time and money to maintain printers, purchase materials and organize large amounts of paperwork. The practice of using manual logs to track productivity and performance, takes time and is prone to employee oversight and bias. The time spent handling paper-based records can be spent in higher value activities. A cloud based fully digital warehouse management solution can streamline warehouse processes without the added costs and inefficiencies of paper-based processes.
By automating manual tasks, a paperless WMS offer opportunities to cut costs and improve productivity in virtually every area of operation. Your warehouse output will increase while maintaining the same number of workers. Time and money that could be invested elsewhere.
Reducing costs and environmental impact
The costs of using vast amounts of of paper, ink and printer can all add up, and their use will negatively impact the environment. By moving to paperless processes with a WMS system, you will not only lower operating costs, it will lower the carbon footprint, improve employee wellbeing and also help use warehouse space more effectively.
Better use of space is results in cost savings since a WMS system also tracks item locations and identifies the most efficient way to store it in the warehouse. Location choices are made based on the employee’s preference rather than what works best for the items. Furthermore, the operator may not be able to see every position, meaning some storage space goes to waste.
Improving customer service
In a paper-based environment, if the recorded inventory and physical inventory in the warehouse don’t match, the outcome can be chaotic. Time will be lost trying to determine where goods are located and finding the source of the mismatch. There will be a negative effect on customer satisfaction if there are delays and errors in fulfillment because the flow of goods is not tracked accurately.
When customers purchase a product that turns out to not be in stock, they will be kept waiting and it will lead to dissatisfaction. Reliance on paper for tracking and shipment confirmations only leads to disorganization, delays, and inefficiency. With a WMS system, you can accurately track the movements of goods in and out of your warehouse, ensuring inventory records are accurate.
The Bottom Line
Technology has created the opportunity for improved alternatives to the traditional method of paper based warehouse management. It has the potential to be applied throughout the full logistics chain. There are opportunities in multiple areas for potential savings, ranging from labor reduction to greater accuracy, better space utilization and improved performance.
The goal of a paperless warehouse can be attained when you replace paper based processes with mobile devices and replace manual processes with automated processes. Paperless operations are feasible when you implement a warehouse management system that supports barcode scanning and real time record management. While you may experience an initial drop in productivity during the transition process, your warehouse operations will quickly realize a significant ROI on your investment in going paperless.
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