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Knowledge Center Blog Put Away And Inventory Replenishment: What Can Voice Do For You?

Put Away And Inventory Replenishment: What Can Voice Do For You?

Let’s face it: warehouse management systems (WMS) are great, but they can’t do everything. One thing WMS are most suited to is managing inventory. After all, it’s important to know how many of a given product you have in your warehouse so you know when to order more. If you’re a larger warehouse, you also likely have product in multiple locations: in longer-term (bulk/overflow) inventory storage, and on the more accessible picking floor, where workers can grab the product to fulfill orders. When product runs out on the picking floor, it’s important to get inventory replenished as soon as possible.

Keeping things moving through the loading dock and into inventory is equally important. In a recent project with a pool supply company, Mountain Leverage addressed the challenge of making sure WMS data remains accurate while keeping put away and replenishment processes as quick and efficient as possible.

The Replenishment Process

You likely use one of the following four criteria to trigger a replenishment process: empty, count threshold, percentage threshold, or allocation generated. An empty trigger is the simplest. A picker goes to collect product and finds themselves taking the last of the product, or needing more product than is in the bin. They then report this, as the location is empty, and the inventory replenishment process begins.

Alternatively, count and percentage thresholds trigger when stock reaches a certain low, either a specific number (there are only 10 of a product left) or a certain percentage (5% of the bin’s capacity remains). Allocation generated relies on analytics to know when to replen certain items (Wreaths sell a lot better in winter than say, in July).

With the previously mentioned pool supply company using a variety of these approaches, there was a problem to solve. How do you make sure inventory replenishments are triggering when you want them, without impacting picking speed? 

Accuracy or Speed: Does It Have To Be Just One?

Keeping the WMS updated in real time – so it knows every time a product is picked or moved – is critical. The most common way to communicate with the WMS is through a handheld scanner or other screen-based device. However, typical electronics require both a worker’s hands and eyes. They have to stop whatever they’re doing to pick up and operate the device. This significantly increases the time each task takes, especially when you consider factors such as inputting bin numbers to ensure accuracy, or verifying product availability. How do you get around this while keeping the put away and inventory replenishment processes running like a finely oiled machine?

Mountain Leverage To The Rescue

With over thirty years of voice design and implementation experience, Mountain Leverage's voice solutions provide the answer for problems of accuracy and speed. Our voice system updates the WMS in real time to generate replenishment tasks. For example, if voice asks a picker to get three of an item and the picker states that only two left, an inventory replenishment will trigger immediately and automatically.

At the pool supply company, the problem was their relatively small loading dock. They needed to get product out of that area as quickly as possible to free up the space and keep things flowing. The solution? Integrating their put-away and replenishment processes.

 

For this company, we combined put away and replenishment to reduce the number of overall processes for the warehouse workers." Eric, ML Voice Solution Consultant

One advantage of this voice implementation is that the number of total trips is cut down and the loading bay can be cleared faster. The far larger advantage is that pickers no longer need to stop what they’re doing to input data on a device with a screen, as Mountain Leverage voice is Hands-Free and Eyes-Free™. Over the course of a day, this reclaimed time adds up significantly, without sacrificing accuracy. Imagine how time can add up over the course of a year! Interested in learning more about how Mountain Leverage's voice solutions can increase put away, inventory replenishment, and pick efficiency? Book a free discovery call with our experts today.

 

A man in a warehouse moving boxes from a pallet