As a business owner that strives for efficiency, you want to ship as many packages as possible. If you are not meeting your own targets for the number of packages your business ships out, you need to identify whether it is your shipping process or some other issue that is causing the delay.
If you’ve already looked at your warehouse management practices and noticed a bottleneck in the shipping area, there are many ways you can speed up the progression from picking to packing and shipping out the door.
How to Speed Up Your Shipping Process
First, you need to work out why your shipping process is slower than it should be. The issue could be related to your shipping software, the hardware used in your warehouse, or the design of your operational processes. To identify the problems, ask yourself the following questions.
- Are your shipping and packing stations separate?
A lot of time can be wasted transferring packages from one station to the other. Try putting the two stations together so that packages can be packed and shipped in one efficient step.
- Are any of your operators waiting around?
Look for lag times in your shipping process that force your operators to wait for something to happen. For example, do the packers or shippers have to wait for your WMS and/or shipping solution to post data and create documents at the station? Even a small delay of 30 seconds can add up in the total amount of time required to complete the shipping process. The operator could start working on another order while waiting, but this often leads to confusion and errors.
Another solution is to move the process that causes the delay upstream. For example, the system could perform the data posting and document creation for a package while it is moving along a conveyor belt so that the documents are ready to be physically printed when the package arrives at the shipping station.
- Is your shipping software inefficient? Delays in shipping can be caused by the limitations of your shipping software. For example, if your software forces operators to manually type addresses rather than retrieving them from another system via an interface, this can cause a delay and increase the amount of errors that have to be corrected.
Consider investing in more advanced shipping software to reduce the amount of work your operators have to do and increase their accuracy.
- Could investing in new warehouse technology speed up your shipping process?
Investing in new technology could also reduce the number of tasks your shipping operators have to do. For example, some processes can benefit from a print and apply solution, where the shipping labels are printed and put on the boxes automatically while moving along the conveyor. In-motion scales are another good example of a warehouse technology that can make your shipping process more efficient.
- Have your shipping needs changed?
Perhaps when you designed your shipping line, you were sending out a lot of very large orders, but now you mostly ship small packages. You may need to redesign your shipping line so that it is optimized for the type of package you ship most often or add support for multiple lines.
Start by Examining Delays
The first step in speeding up your shipping system is to identify the issues that are causing delays. Once you know why your shipping system is running more slowly than you expect, you can implement solutions to speed things up.
These solutions may involve redesigning your shipping process, rearranging your warehouse to reduce the distance packages have to travel, or investing in new software or hardware.