Inventory Management Inventory Management, Order Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Technology
In the Third Party Logistics Order Fulfillment world it is best practices for the company and their warehouse to each maintain their own separate inventory. Since the warehouse is a contracted provider for the company it is in their best interest to maintain their own inventory to best manage their own processes. The company should also maintain their own inventory to manage their website and for accounting purposes. Reconciling both these inventories together helps maintain both their accuracies and holds both the company and 3rd party warehouse accountable.
ProPack has developed a custom module in our WMS system to facilitate the automated reconciliation between the company (ProPack’s client) and the warehouse (ProPack’s system). This system imports SKUs, lot numbers and quantities from the company’s system, compares them against the warehouse’s system and returns a report detailing any differences. ProPack then employs an automated physical count system to double check any discrepancies, notify the client and update the inventory accordingly.
Inventory accuracy and system accountability is very important. ProPack is continuing to develop and enhance its systems and processes to add value and low costs for its clients.
Order Fulfillment DHL, FedEx, Inventory Management, LTL, Order Fulfillment, Order History, Order Release, UPS, USPS, WMS
History logging in any system is handy. However, when dealing with 3rd Party Logistics and Order Fulfillment the history of an order through a system from receipt to billing is invaluable. Many challenges can face an order in its travels and careful documentation of the steps along the path can avoid frustrations for both the client and the fulfillment house.
At ProPack our WMS system, P3PL (ProPack 3rd Party Logistics), tracks the history of each order that moves through our system. Some of the basic steps recorded are:
- Order received date/time, method and by whom
- Date/time inventory successfully allocated and any troubles in this area
- Date/time scanned and/or picked
- Date/time processed (shipped on FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, or LTL)
- Date/time closed (order finished and final charges applied)
When everything goes smoothly with an order it’s history is almost never reviewed. However, when challenges arise order history becomes a vital source for troubleshooting.
Say an order is unable to move through the allocation process at ProPack because one or more of its items do not currently exist in inventory. ProPack’s order release specialist notifies the client via email each time this happens. But assume the client does not get the email for any of a variety of reasons.
Several days later the client is wondering why the order has not shipped out. They can check the online history for their order in P3PL and see that ProPack has tried to allocate the order each day for past several days. This is possible because the order history reflects each time the allocation process fails and an email is sent to the client. At this point the client can work with ProPack to adjust the order in addition to looking into why they were not receiving their email.
History is beneficial for both clients and fulfillment houses when anything out of the ordinary happens along a systemized process. At ProPack, in addition to our order fulfillment process, we work to incorporate history into all our core system functions. These histories are made available online for our clients to take advantage. We do this to add transparency to our processes and build value for our clients.
For more information please visit our website at www.propack.com.
Lot Numbers, Order Fulfillment, Scanning Bar Codes, FIFO, Inventory Management, Locations, Lot Numbers, Order Fulfillment, Scanning, UPC Codes, Warehousing
In fulfilling orders the difference between picking an order manually and scanning the same order via a computer system is huge and should never be taken for granted. The error rate between using your eyes to check that an item in your hand is the same as an item on the page is much much higher than letting a computer do the work. Even though fulfillment companies do their best to accurately pick, pack and ship their client's orders via a manual process it is still to everyone's benefit to ensure that products are bar coded and scanned out of inventory.
At ProPack was have traditionally picked orders manually. Over the past 20 years we've developed manual double-check systems to ensure that the correct product is placed in the correct box. This entails having one person (the picker) pick the orders into a box or bin and another person (the packer) double-check that the items are correct. This takes extra time and resources as well as slows down our response time for getting orders out the door for out clients.
Six years ago we began developing custom software to facilitate scanning orders whose items all contain bar codes (or UPC Codes). This quickly improved our own performance by removing the need to have a second person double-check the order. We made a rule that the picker remove the items from the shelf one at a time and scan each in midair before placing the item in the box. The scanning system would notify the picker if the item was incorrect. This improved our accuracy from around 97% to 99.9%.
In addition, since our software was custom-built we've been able to enhance the system to allow for the scanning of lot numbers and locations. Lot numbers are assigned to food products and are allocated to orders in a First-In-First-Out (FIFO) fashion. Getting the correct lot number in the right order is as important as getting the correct item. Locations allow us to electronically manage the physical layout of our client's inventory and quickly locate and pick their product. By added both these elements to our scanning process we ensure that the exact right product is picked from the correct location 100% of the time.
Scanning benefits fulfillment warehouses, clients and customers. At ProPack we're more efficient (and thus more profitable) by using scanning. Our clients are ensured of accurate inventory, quick order processing and minimal customer service issues. Finally, the end customer receives their package quickly and with right items included.
Scanning is a win-win for all parties involved and at ProPack we continue to use our custom technology to implement scanning into all areas of our operation.
For more information please visit our website at www.propack.com.