Managing the receipt, storage and outflow of products or materials is perhaps the most basic function any warehouse performs. It is also one of the most challenging – and made more challenging if you are a 3PL warehouse managing these functions for multiple clients.
This process, known as “Inventory Management”, begins before an individual product ever arrives at the warehouse – and can continue even after the product leaves the warehouse and is delivered to its final destination.
To properly manage this complex process, warehouses often employ sophisticated online inventory management programs known as “Warehouse” or “Inventory Management Systems.” At 3PL Central, we offer 3PL Warehouse Manager, a SaaS solution. Easy to use and available 24/7, our software is capable of managing the influx and outflow of goods and materials throughout the entire inventory management life cycle. This life cycle can be broken down into a number of distinct phases.
The Receiving process begins when goods or materials first arrive at a warehouse. It is critically important that these items are properly counted and checked into the warehousing management system. Any errors made at this point will be compounded as the process moves forward.
Proper inventory management software will make it easy for warehouse workers to input goods and materials quickly and accurately at this stage. Often, this can be done by integrating with an additional technology, such as mobile barcode scanning.
Storing inventory strategically can help warehouses save enormous amounts of time, effort, and money. Items that are expected to move faster should be stored where they can be accessed more easily. This helps ensure the warehouse’s internal processes operate with the highest level of efficiency.
It is important that a warehouse operator is always fully aware of exactly how many items he/she has in stock. They must know where items are located in their facilities – as well as whether they are under any type of date sensitivity. Many products, such as food or beverages, have a pre-defined shelf life. Such items must be monitored closely for regulatory and safety reasons.
More sophisticated Warehouse and Inventory Management Systems used by both private and third party logistics warehouses – such as 3PL Warehouse Manager – allow inventory to be monitored by the internal/external customers they serve, or by their own staff as the case may be. This can help all parties involved to both save money and increase efficiency.
Synchronizing the inventory a warehouse has on hand with the orders and/or requests it receives from its customers is one of the more challenging tasks a warehouse performs.
In today’s high-speed business world, this requires both fast and accurate processing of orders and requests – along with real-time knowledge of what inventory exists in their facility. It is crucial that this process can be tracked down to the individual Stock Keeping Unit – or SKU – from the moment an order is received to the moment it starts being processed by the warehouse staff.
Once an order is received and confirmed, it must be located, removed from its storage spot and properly prepared to be re-located to its destination. This requires a sophisticated coordination between the warehouse’s staff, stocking locations and, many times, outside delivery vendors. 3PL Central offers small parcel shipping solutions to help your warehouse navigate these challenges.
Proper integration with the various delivery vendors and services used by the warehouse ensures that every item can be tracked by multiple parties even after it has left the warehouse. Online inventory management systems should be designed to monitor the status of all items until they reach their final destinations.
One of the more challenging aspects of today’s modern warehousing is the management of items that are returned to the warehouse by the customer. Such “reverse logistics” processes need to be just as sophisticated as the original outgoing shipping procedures – as they impact the exact same areas – only in reverse.
Managing inventory throughout the entire process of receipt, storage and delivery can be extraordinarily complex. By using such tools like 3PL Central’s 3PL Warehouse Manager, today’s warehouses can turn what might seem to be an onerous burden into a strategic advantage.
Our customers include everyone from small-to-medium sized 3PLs to private Fortune 500 distribution centers. 3PL Warehouse Manager is offered via an on-demand, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, enabling 3PLs, public warehouses and warehouse operations of all kinds to access a world-class WMS solution for a low monthly fee.