In today’s field service industry, customers can choose from many providers. They expect their needs to be met quickly, professionally, and at a reasonable cost. Consequently, warehouse managers must balance competing priorities to improve their quality of service:
- Inventory management cost vs. customer service
- Transaction and operational speed vs. order dispatch accuracy
- Lean operations vs. stock-out
In order to meet the challenges of maintaining an accurate inventory, streamline redundant manual processes, optimize floor layout and pick path, and replenish parts and supplies, all while making a profit, many field service companies turn to warehouse management software solutions.
To help service centric-organizations improve their service offering, here’s advice from Astea on how managers can use warehouse management software to turn these common pain points into a competitive advantage.
Four Warehouse Management Challenges
The warehouse is the central node in the service delivery lifecycle. It’s where parts and materials arrive, where inventory for work orders is picked, and where resources and personnel are dispatched from to fulfill service calls. Pressures from up and down the supply chain make managers’ goal of achieving warehouse efficiency a truly daunting task.
Here are four of the most common obstacles standing in their way:
- Inventory Accuracy
Inventory accuracy is the number one concern when it comes to efficient warehouse operations, according to IndustryWeek. When a field service organization manages inventory for numerous product lines in multiple locations, including mobile inventory, reporting inventory accurately becomes difficult. Unfortunately, inaccurate inventory records can result, on the one hand, in undersupply and failure to fulfill service requests; or over-purchase of materials and decreased cash flow on the other.
- Layout and Pick Path Optimization
Travel is the biggest source of wasted labor in a warehouse, Warehouse Science reports. If space isn’t used effectively and items aren’t organized in a way that corresponds to customer orders, floor workers can waste vast amounts of time just locating inventory. In addition, many warehouses don’t standardize the picking and packing routes workers take, leading to collisions, unnecessary wear and tear on equipment, and more wasted time.
- Redundant Manual Processes
In an effort to ensure accuracy, warehouse managers often put repeated processes in place, such as sending order tickets through multiple checkpoints. Unfortunately, redundant manual processes can become a huge cost and time sink, and add no value to the service delivered. What’s more, manual processes using visual inspection and checklists are error-prone and often require recounts.
- Parts and Supply Replenishment
Having the right parts and products in stock at the right time is key to the timely delivery of service. However, maintaining the right product mix often requires software tools that analyze not only historical movement of parts, but also consumer behavior and seasonal trends.
Failure to maximize warehouse efficiency results in greater inventory management costs, increased warehouse clutter, and missed service level agreement (SLA) targets. The good news is, there are warehouse management software solutions designed specifically to help service-centric organizations streamline warehouse operations and deliver higher quality service to their customers.
Warehouse Management Software for the Modern Warehouse
Because warehouse management is vital to meeting customer expectations and overall operational efficiency, more companies are investing in warehouse management technology.
Warehouse management solutions, also referred to as warehouse management systems (WMS), digitize warehouse operations and eliminate tedious manual processes.
A strong warehouse management solution:
- Enables staff to track inventory by SKU number, manufacture date, lot code, bin number, and more.
- Gives managers, through the software’s user interface, the ability to see more clearly the organization’s warehouse operations and inventory levels across locations.
- Allows warehouse staff to more quickly and accurately perform daily tasks of picking and packing inventory for service calls.
- Perform physical and cycle inventory counts instantly and without disrupting warehouse operations.
Astea’s Alliance Warehouse Edge
To get the most out of your warehouse management system, empower warehouse floor workers to perform their jobs with a smart device. With Astea’s New Alliance Warehouse Edge, for instance, warehouse staff can perform all daily tasks with mobile barcoding.
Barcode scanning can help your staff with the following responsibilities:
- Standardizing parts picking and warehouse pick routing, so they spend less time on unnecessary movement.
- Scanning parts in shipping and receiving, so inventory levels are instantly updated to reflect inbound and outbound parts and product movement.
- Transferring inventory stock while reducing errors and providing real-time updates.
- Counting inventory cycles swiftly and accurately.
Astea’s upgraded Alliance Warehouse Edge brings logistics supply chain data and warehouse operations to your field service management solution. The unification of these three key inputs to service gives your FSM solution the end-to-end cohesion required to transform your service delivery. With this improved visibility, warehouse managers will be able to optimize product mix, sales staff will always have the info they need to fulfill service requests, and technicians will never leave the depot without the parts they need.
Software for Success
As you’ve seen, the right warehouse management software solution improves warehouse operations by:
- Improving inventory accuracy with mobile barcoding and automatic system updates.
- Optimizing pick path routing to reduce wasted time and wear and tear on equipment.
- Eliminating manual processes and human errors by digitizing counting tasks.
- Achieving the right product mix by analyzing historical movements of parts and consumer behavior.
By investing in warehouse management technology, your field service organization can more effectively connect both ends of the supply chain and better serve your customers.
Want to learn more about how Alliance Warehouse Edge can benefit your field service company? Request a personalized demo here.