A shipping and receiving warehouse is the gatekeeper of global commerce. However, to remain competitive, the warehouse shipping process must be efficient and cost-effective.
When you picture warehouse shipping and receiving, think of it as the heart of a supply chain operation. A seamless flow of goods arrives from manufacturers and is then sent to distributors and retailers until they eventually arrive in the hands of consumers. When it works, the movement is almost poetic. However, any hiccup in the shipping and receiving process workflow risks delays and cost overruns.
Receiving process in warehouse
Receiving is when materials arrive at the warehouse. The receiving area sets the stage for the rest of the warehouse’s operations. To help the warehouse prepare for incoming shipments, many suppliers provide Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASNs), which speeds up the unloading and inspection processes. An ASN includes details like the shipment’s contents, number of packages, size, weight, delivery method, expected arrival time and any special handling instructions.
When products arrive at a warehouse, they are carefully unloaded by the warehouse staff. Each product is assigned a unique identifier, such as a barcode or RIFD identifier, so the staff can use inventory scanners to ensure everything arrives and makes it off the truck. Thoroughly documenting inventory helps reduce stock errors and improve management. During the offload, the staff performs quality control checks, looking for damages, discrepancies and signs of wear and tear. Any issues are quickly reported to the warehouse manager and the supplier.
To ensure that all warehouse receiving best practices are followed, many warehouses use a warehouse receiving process checklist. The checklist details the process from receiving and unloading to ensure no vital steps are missed.
Some items to include on a warehouse receiving process checklist
Before the shipment arrives.
- Identify the number of items and expected delivery date, include vital information like the purchase order number, material name and description.
- Allocate sufficient staff and equipment for receiving.
- Determine the storage requirements and location.
Receiving and unloading.
- Notate the systematic unloading of goods from the delivery vehicle.
- Verify the delivery’s contents.
- Check quantities against the information provided in the Advanced Shipment Notification.
- Make sure the dimensions are accurate.
- Use an inventory scanner to scan product codes and SKUs.
- Use proper protocols if the shipment has fragile or biohazard markings.
- Conduct a visual inspection.
- Look for damage, including deterioration, contamination or infestation.
- Check that all seals are unbroken.
- Inform the warehouse manager of any irregularities.
- Communicate any discrepancies or issues with the supplier promptly.
- Review receiving process.
- Conduct periodic audits to ensure that the receiving process is consistently followed.
- Identify areas for improvement.
- Implement necessary changes.
Storage and inventory.
- Allocate goods to their designated location.
- Check to determine inventory is slotted correctly.
- Make weekly spot checks to verify product condition and quantity.
Shipping process in warehouse
Inventory can only hang around for so long. In fact, you don’t want it to spend too much time in the warehouse. The shipping process occurs when products are ready to be sent to customers, such as distributors and retailers.
Once an order from a customer is received, the picking process starts. Pickers are the warehouse staff assigned to retrieve the ordered items. The pickers also perform quality checks to ensure that items are in good condition.
Once the goods are organized and their condition verified, they are packed securely to prevent damage during transit. Next, the items are labeled with the destination address, shipping method and all necessary details. Other shipping documents are also prepared at this time, such as packing slips and invoices.
The packed items are transferred to the staging area, where they wait for transport. Carriers are typically notified through the warehouse management system, which is integrated for seamless information exchange. Once the trucks arrive, the goods are carefully loaded to minimize damage and ensure timely delivery.
How should a shipping and receiving warehouse operate efficiently and effectively?
When the warehouse shipping and receiving process runs smoothly, the benefits are noticeable throughout the entire operation.
Decrease delays: A smooth process ensures that items move into and out of the warehouse effortlessly.
Accurate inventory: By scanning goods at reception and performing periodic spot checks, it is easy to track inventory levels accurately.
Quality control: Performing comprehensive checks at reception, as well as spot checks while in storage, ensures that inventory remains in superior condition.
Steady inventory levels: Monitoring inventory flow in and out of a warehouse provides managers visibility into how customers use goods, so accurate levels are maintained while surpluses and shortages are avoided.
Improved customer service: Following the above warehouse shipping and receiving processes helps ensure that a warehouse’s customers receive their goods on time or early and in excellent condition.
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