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Optimizing the Outbound Logistics Process

Sriram Bandal | 29 June 2022

Whether the customer is a wholesaler, retailer, or end consumer, reaching the product on time is of the essence. At the same time, with the boom in the ecommerce market, companies will have to optimize outbound processes in order to keep up with the race and continue to meet customer expectations – correct orders with on time fulfilment.  

Outbound logistics involves the storage, transportation and delivery of goods to the customer. However, it all starts with a customer sale order. Once triggered by the sale, the product moves through the warehouse for picking and packing, then to the loading dock for distribution transportation, and ends with the product delivery to its last location, mainly at the customers' doorsteps.

Let’s look at some key opportunities for optimization.

Current Outbound Logistics Processes

Large business operations have a very dynamic supply and demand to their scale of operation. Companies use software-based inventory management systems to manage the information and add customer data. These systems, mainly manual inventory systems, are often prone to human errors. Processes like warehouse management, stocking and placing orders with regular order management, companies especially face the following problems:

  • Late and Wrong Delivery: Small mistakes can raise a significant loss over the period. Errors in maintaining address information, delivering the proper parcel on time, ensuring the supplied products are in a good state and keeping transparency with the consumer can negatively impact the company's reputation and cut profits because order reversal is a tedious, time-consuming task. 
  • Improper Inventory Management Status: Keeping access stock of non-movable items will subsequently acquire valuable space that can also be utilized for fast-moving objects. Advanced visibility throughout the process will help obtain real-time inventory information. 

Improving the Process

How can companies improve their outbound logistics? By using the following automation tools, companies can improve the outbound process:

  • Conveyor Systems: Conveyor systems provide increased throughput, more efficient product handling, and maximum support for operational processes. A modular and versatile solution to support picking, workstations, loading and unloading, sorting and more.
  • Sortation Systems: Sortation technologies automatically identify products – individual pieces or cartons – and transport them to the appropriate destination within a facility; a perfect technology to miss out on any order.
  • Autonomous Vehicles:  AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) and AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robots) provide adjustable and reliable replacements to traditional material transport methods involving fork trucks. AGVs can reduce production and labor costs by improving traffic flow, reducing variability and improving traceability in the outbound area.
  • End-of-line automation system: For high volume requirements, one can use an automatic carton erector, automatic packing slip print and inset, fully automated carton sealing machine, print and apply system, box or pallet strapping machines and inline check weighing systems.

Intralogistics software dramatically reduces warehouse inefficiencies and adds visibility and control to your operation at various levels. WMS (warehouse management systems) track inventory inbound and outbound, adjusting product count and stock-keeping units. WES (Warehouse execution systems), however, help orchestrate automation, order fulfilment and workflow to promote operational efficiency.

Other Automation Technology Options for Optimization

Taking the correct tools to manage warehouse operations and a distribution process is necessary for any warehouse operation. An effective intralogistics software system allows you to plan procedures within the warehouse to increase operational efficiency. Tight integration can help you to improve the following outbound process:

Waving: The process of grouping orders and activating them for processing. The waving suite of programs, wave planning, wave management and wave closeout with exception handling provide end-to-end control and visibility for order processing.

Picking: The batch pick is carried out using a radio frequency handheld scanner to pick orders. Warehouse management software will display the set of instructions on the screen, and the operator can also respond to bar code scanning or manually typing data.

Pack & ShipWith the rising transportation costs, it is even more essential to find ways to reduce costs while still meeting customers' delivery requirements. The packing process is used to prepare orders for shipping and can be performed by the operator scanning each item for a complete order audit or by a single scan for order picking. In-line technology like weigh scales and scanners makes it easier to make packing adjustment decisions quickly without diverting products off the line.

Create Reliable Outbound Logistics with Automation

Effective intralogistics software integrates with your ERP, inventory tracking system, and automation equipment to track inventory inbound and outbound, specifically on inventory location, product returns, picking and packing. Receiving a package as expected and on time creates customer loyalty for years to come so increased warehouse visibility will help ensure that each process is executed as expected.

If businesses want to improve outbound logistic challenges, it is necessary that companies optimize processes and invest in the latest technology. Our experts will assist you in selecting the right technology to improve your outbound logistics system.

Author: Sriram Bandal

Sriram is a Sales & Application Manager at Bastian Solutions India. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pune University and brings 12 years of experience in product management, applications and sales experience in EOT (electric overhead traveling) cranes, forklift trucks and the material handling automation Industry.


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