Supply chain management has a few common kinks that keep the overall system from running exactly the way we want. Those kinks can be frustratingly out of our control, such as receiving shipments from suppliers. But one of the worst offenders is usually in the center of your operation. Sorting systems are vital to improving workflow, but they are prone to bottlenecks and inefficiency. For many warehouses, their sorting systems are hurting productivity by working under capacity. There are two low-cost ways to tackle this problem.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
It’s surprising how many distribution centers cling to antiquated management systems. Older software and techniques can keep things running, but they often lack advances in data gathering and analytics. “Big Data” is reshaping a large number of industries. While you may not need to fully commit to an “Internet of Things” approach, improving your capacity to analyze your systems can be a cost-effective way to improve sorting.
In general, an upgraded WMS can quickly identify bottlenecks that adversely affect sorting. It can also help you tweak optimizations throughout the warehouse process. Oftentimes, improving sorting capacity is achieved by improving other related and integrated systems instead.
Even without a sophisticated WMS, you can solve conveyor problems with a few minor calculations. Optimizing conveyors is a matter of discovering your average package size and maximum package size. This informs you of the expectations for absolute maximum capacity and easily highlights bottlenecks that your operations may suffer when handling the larger packages. Once you identify these expectations, you can adjust speeds and even upgrade specific components of the sorting system in order to improve your overall capacity.
You are always going to be fighting the good fight for more efficiency and capacity. Improving sorting throughput can help, but it’s important to always keep a holistic picture in mind. Resolving one issue almost always points you to the next, so never stop pursuing big-picture management solutions that can keep you ahead of the curve.