Receiving and putaway are where the physical flow of materials and the parallel flow of information on received items join and must be efficiently and swiftly routed downstream in synchronization with one another. For example, continuing to rely on manual receipt of goods with paper and pencil steps in the information flow - such as reading a purchase order, checking quantity received, or assigning a stocking location is way too slow. Paper shuffling on the receiving dock increasingly is a factor that marks a second or third rate competitor compared to the top performers.
In order to remove the first speed-bump receiving must proceed with both the greater speed and higher degree of accuracy provided by the automatic data capture and electronic information processing technologies.
A competitive receiving and putaway operation begins with employees on the dock equipped with bar code scanners and radio frequency data communication (RFDC) terminals. RFDC units mounted on the lift trucks used in receiving and putaway will further expedite paperless processing.
All the data collected electronically must be managed electronically as well for greater efficiency. Even the most basic warehouse management system (WMS) can do so readily. Within the receiving department, WMS software, fed data from bar code scanning and RFDC units, perform such functions as identifying and recording receipts by SKU, updating inventory, directing putaway, and assigning storage locations.
Even with WMS capability internally, your facility's receiving operations need to be linked externally by electronic means to upstream members of your supply chain. With electronic data interchange (EDI) links to inbound shippers and transportation companies, the receiving dock will know ahead of time what's due when, and in what quantities. With the type of EDI transaction known as an advanced shipping notice (ASN), moreover, dock managers can preplan how they'll handle the inbound materials
flow for highest efficiency.