In a recent post we addressed the advent of digitization and why real-time information is critical in the warehouse. Another advantage of the digital evolution is the ability for warehouses to eliminate paper processes. There are a number of reasons going paperless, enabled by warehouse management systems (WMS) such as Interlink Technologies’ Warehouse-LINK®, has become best practice in the sector.
- Greater accuracy. The pace of change within a warehouse is tremendous; changes occur virtually every second of the working day. Companies tracking orders and shipments with stationary computers or paper-based processes are unlikely to record events accurately or timely. Paperless operation ensures that change is tracked in real time, always accurate and without latency; what’s more, the use of mobile devices facilitates this advantage.
- Better visibility. With paper-based processes, data is tracked and entered manually, a time-consuming and error-prone method that often blurs the picture of inventory. With a paperless WMS, tracking shipments and resources as they move into, within, and out of the warehouse is much more precise and efficient. Knowing the location of every item of inventory is no longer a difficult, distortion-prone exercise. Having greater visibility improves the ability to manage complexity as goods move to and from locations within the warehouse.
- Higher productivity. Paper-based systems are very labor intensive, adding time and cost to process execution. Further, the daily cost of printers, ink, and paper can be significant. The time spent handling paper-based records can be spent in higher value activities. By automating manual tasks, paperless WMS offer opportunities to cut costs and improve productivity in virtually every area of operation: receiving, inspecting, putaway, cross-docking, planning, pick and pick preparation, packing, shipping, and returns.
- Environmentally sound and sustainable. In a time when environmental and sustainability issues are increasingly important corporate considerations, paperless over paper is a choice that supports the enterprise from a public relations and goodwill perspective.
- Broad bottom-line benefits. Stakeholders must be on board to support the move from paper to paperless processes, and nothing is more compelling to this group than how the transition will accrue to bottom-line profits. The areas for potential savings here are manifold, ranging from labor reduction and avoidance to better utilization of space to improved logistical performance.
As Deloitte noted, "Technology has created the opportunity for improved alternatives to the traditional method of physical record management (i.e., paper). It has the potential to be applied throughout the full value chain." In warehousing and distribution, advanced WMS such as Warehouse-LINK® are helping realize that potential.
By Marty Weil (For more information about Marty, visit: http://martyweil.net /)