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The receiving process is sometimes an overlooked part of a business's warehouse operations. This can happen when the focus is shifted toward something that is more urgent or immediately gratifying to the supply chain in some way.
However, the receiving methods you employ in your warehouse can either make or break your business. It is safe to say that it is an area you may need to look into overhauling at some point to ensure it remains efficient, equipped to handle small hiccups, and keeps your goods flowing in seamlessly.
Aside from a full-on warehouse audit, let's take a look at the three key steps that every business should take to ensure their warehouse receiving process is optimized for speed, efficiency, and safety.
As the alliterative saying goes, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” This is true in all areas of life and business but is especially important when it comes to warehouse receiving.
In fact, for a busy warehouse, being prepared for shipments is one of the most crucial elements in the entire process.
The pre-receiving process must involve consistent, excellent communication between your warehouse and your supplier. At a minimum, you’ll want to ensure you know the following before the shipment arrives:
Number of Expected Items
Within each shipment, you’ll want to know exactly how many items are being shipped. This number should be clearly displayed on the shipment in question so that there is no confusion or time wasted when the goods arrive at your warehouse.
This information should always be clearly listed on your invoice or shipping receipt.
Specifically How the Items Were Shipped
The exact manner in which the goods are being transported is important for your warehouse operations.
For instance, if the items come on pallets, you’ll require a different method of handling them than you would if they were packaged via a floor loaded container.
If your team has to search for the label on every corner of the package for an extended period of time in order to get your goods logged as received and then get them stored away, you run the risk of facing some delays or possible warehouse congestion.
While not every shipment you receive is going to be able to have labels placed in the exact location without fail every single time, if you talk with you supplier you may find that they are willing to make an effort to keep labeling as uniform as possible. While this may seem like a small, rather insignificant thing to suggest, it is quite beneficial to your receiving team. Talk with your supplier and ensure that they consistently place the labels in the same spot, every time.
Efficiency and speed are vital to the success of any warehouse. But safety should never be sacrificed in an effort to maximize efficiency. In the end, an accident often leads to even more time wasted and less efficient processes than if the safety measures were properly implemented and followed in the first place.
A few considerations that need to be made with regards to safe operations include:
Especially in the era of unprecedented demand, workers’ energy levels need to be considered. Look for ways to shorten or reduce the number of steps (literally steps taken while walking, or physical steps in the process) your team must make to complete the receiving process.
As simple a task as walking or reaching may be, performing these movements thousands of times over the period of many months or years will eventually lead to increased wear and tear on the body, additionally decreasing or slowing down your workforce quicker over time. Taking measures to reduce these extra steps will reduce fatigue, thus reducing the chance of error and injury which can result.
Proper Handling of Goods
Proper measurement of temperature (for goods such as produce) as well as verifying the seals on hazardous materials are tightened down must be meticulously analyzed to ensure the safety of the product and workers handling them. This step not only keeps workers safe but also ensures that once your goods are received there is no shipping damage to claim.
General Equipment and Truck Safety
Proper truck docking, double-checking that safety brakes are engaged, and ensuring appropriate item weight for the use of equipment (such as forklifts) are checklist items that need to be assessed with every delivery.
Harkening back to pre-receiving, now you must determine if everything was delivered as it was supposed to be.
This step is inextricably connected to the first two steps discussed in this article but is also crucial for the process of transitioning your received goods for the next steps in the warehousing process.
Examples of what you’ll want to inspect/verify include:
If anything is amiss, there needs to already be a protocol in place for correcting these issues. The same goes for any safety concerns that may have been present during the receiving process.