5 Tips to Reduce Warehouse Inventory Errors Due to Order Picking
5 Tips to Reduce Warehouse Inventory Errors Due to Order Picking

To err is human. However, when it comes to order picking, reducing such errors is critical. Order picking ties in directly with customer relations regardless of whether the item is shipped directly to consumers or to a processing organization. An incorrect product or delayed delivery due to picking errors can impact the business itself. 

Warehouse picking systems can help to certain extent, but there is still the risk of human errors. That said, here are a few tips to reduce inventory errors in warehouses due to order picking. 

Keep track of order accuracy rates carefully

If you are unable to narrate accuracy rates for any specific interval, it means you are not tracking properly. Any claims or beliefs on operational efficiency should be backed by data. Make sure to set up effective tracking policies for returns, customer complaints, inventory comparisons etc. 

Identify the ‘weak link in the chain’

Flawed components can harm the entire operation. In order picking operations, it’s a good approach to identify the weak links first. The weak links can be full cases, broken cases or both. It can be something related to the picking location. The order pickers might be at the wrong zone in the warehouse at the wrong time. It can be wrong slotting of items in locations. It can even be a picker.

By figuring out where the problems that delay or negatively impact picking operations are, the team can take measures to improve the operations. 

Automate that which can be automated

Automation isn’t feasible in every facility. But if it’s possible, automation can do wonders to warehouse operations – more accurate inventory counts, more efficient operations, improved productivity, reduced risks, and cost savings to name a few. 

Robotics, WMS, warehouse picking solutions etc. are not as expensive as before, while labor costs, real estate costs etc. have inflated. For starters, it’s best to automate high-ROI applications to maximize impact. 

Count and recount after picks

It’s a good idea to count as many times as possible before and after picking. In addition to the picker, shippers and packers can also count the order before shipping. Though this approach may seem time-consuming, it can effectively eliminate a lot of errors. If time is valuable, you should think about the time and headache when processing returns with an incorrect idea of the real stock situation. 

Mistakes beyond picking

Not all inventory errors have to do with improper picking operations. There could be errors in receiving as well, which is critical for inventory accuracy. Material handling, shipping etc. are also prone to errors. A receiving employee should verify the items in a shipment before signing it off, while another employee recounts and verifies before putting the stock away. It’s better to not have one person responsible for checking his own count. Double count’s a safer alternative.