Whether you're an operations manager or warehouse supervisor in charge of the daily flow of inbound and outbound warehouse operations, understanding if and how you can pack and ship simultaneously is vital to improving and maintaining an efficient supply chain.
But before you turn your warehouse processes upside down, here are a few factors you need to consider first.
It's All About the Setup
While integration of packing and shipping can be a great solution, both steps come with inherent pain points that complicate warehouse processes.
For instance, packers can spend too much time trying to pack a shipment and move it to a separate shipping station. Also, a lack of integration with packing and shipping applications on the workstation can slow down the whole process, no matter how efficient other aspects may be.
But with the right setup, your workflow can improve. For example, you can run the packing application on the workstation, pack your items, and then toggle over to a shipping station application on the same workstation, rather than having each application separate. But there is a better way.
The key is to pack and ship in a way that is both efficient and smart.
Software That Works Together
Let's say you want to set up the packers to do all of their work in the packing software application. The pack station software then sends a message to a third-party shipping software application, such as InfoShip, which works behind the scenes with instructions to ship the package once the packer has completed the packing process.
This gives the third-party software all of the details it needs to ship the package from the backend, including the information that goes on the shipping label that is ready to be printed.
So while it may appear that the packing software does all of the work, in reality, the third-party shipping software plays a significant role in this integration.
Integration Has Benefits
There are three key benefits to bringing your packing and shipping warehouse processes together:
1. Better performance. You gain better operational performance, because automation can help speed up the shipping process.
2. Simpler training. Integrating your packing and shipping helps with training and efficiency, so you save time and even costs on training. For example, since packers only see the packing software, they would only need training on the packing software rather than on how to ship the packages, too.
3. Improved capacity utilization. By removing separate, stand-alone shipping stations, you'll take up less space in your warehouse, freeing up capacity.
These benefits, however, don't sidestep the fact that you'll want to make sure you're using the right package size. The box used should be the smallest-sized box you plan to ship your package in that also fits your merchandise. This is because the carrier charges by dimensional weight versus the actual scaled weight and will charge the higher of the two.
However, you can optimize packing software automation by having it provide you with suggestions on the right package to use to save on costs. Even if you make the mistake of using a box size that's too large, your shipping software can recognize this error and automatically notify the operator, while suggesting an appropriate-sized box.
Unfortunately, there will be occasions when the suggestion can come too late in the packing and shipping process. By the time the operator gets the information, she or he may have already packed the item in a box that is too large. The operator would then have to take it all out and put it in a smaller box.
That's why it's important to have the packing software tell you the correct size box to use from the start.
When you're trying to improve your warehouse process flows, make sure you have what you need to streamline your packing and shipping process. With the right systems at your disposal, you'll be able to improve operational performance, relieve the burden of excessive staff training, and realize savings in both cost and time.