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Peoplevox Updates

Role of the stock control team with & without a WMS

Jonathan Bellwood
  • 28 April 2015
  • 6 min read

Implementing warehouse management software is a significant investment, but once you start to understand the impact it will have on the running of your business, you’ll see just how good an investment it is. Previously we have written 3 reasons to automate your warehouse, and then 4 more reasons to introduce warehouse automation, but let’s look at the role of the stock control team, often called the perpetual inventory team.

They have a lot of tasks to perform that requires moving around the warehouse frequently, manually counting and checking stock. What follows is a breakdown of some of these tasks and how they differ with the implementation of a WMS.

Checking Bulletins

Without a WMS

When a product is faulty or unsafe, a product recall is issued. These messages, and similar reports, come through from Head Office and are fed down to the stock control team who then have to locate the items and quarantine them.

With a WMS

For product recalls, a report can be generated to show the location of the faulty items. The stock control team can then head out into the warehouse with a handheld computer to remove the item by scanning both the item and location barcodes. They then simply select a reason, such as ‘recall’, for removing the items on the handheld device.

Multiple Bins

Without a WMS

Traditionally, individual Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) aren’t kept in more than one pick location because this would make them more difficult to find when an order comes in. As such, it is the role of the stock control team to check these locations and ensure that similar SKUs are not in multiple locations, and to tidy them up if they are.

With a WMS

With a WMS you are able to keep individual SKUs in multiple pick locations and even have different SKUs in the same location. This is because, as long as the items are barcode scanned into the location, the system will be able to locate them easily when an order is placed.

[Related: From retail shop to successful efulfilment in 4 easy steps]

Location checks

Without a WMS

To ensure that the correct quantity of items are in the right location, the stock control team must manually check the locations and count the items.

With a WMS

Rather than having to do this manually, the stock control team can use handheld devices to electronically check that the inventory is correct. By using a WMS, goods in should be so accurate that these location checks should not need to be performed very regularly at all.

Putaway checks

Without a WMS

After a delivery has come in it's important that putaway is done correctly. As we’ve said before, if an item is not put in the correct location it can cause hassle for the pickers when they are sent out to pick an order. The stock control team have a duty to check that the warehouse operators have put all items away in the correct location.

With a WMS

Using a WMS, warehouse operators are guided towards where they need to put items after the goods come in. It often happens that an operator will put the item away in a different location however, perhaps if there is damage to the original location, or if it is already full. A WMS will allow you to trace all stock movements within the warehouse and know when and why a particular operator has acted against the recommendation of the system, without needing to enter the warehouse at all.

Nil Picks

Without a WMS

When a picker is sent out to pick an order but the item is not in the specified location, he will find a member of the stock control team and inform them of the issue. It is then the stock control team’s job to investigate the discrepancy by checking the inventory physically within the warehouse.

With a WMS

During a pick run, pickers will have a handheld scanner displaying the details of the item they need to pick. If the specified item is not in the location it should be in, a live report of a failed action is sent out. The stock control team will be alerted to this and they will lock down the location so that the failed action can be handled.

[Related: Top 5 order picking mistakes Part 1]

Expiry date checks

Without a WMS

Head Office will usually enter data into a report regarding the shelf-life of certain products. The stock control team will print this report and manually locate each item to check the expiry date. If it is less than 10 weeks, they will request for that stock to be transferred to the store.

With a WMS

With a WMS this process is fairly similar but the time it takes to be completed can be reduced significantly by using the barcode system to locate the items. Every single SKU should be stored on the system with the location it is currently in. With access to this information, the stock control team won’t have to manually search for the items.

Key Takeaways

>> The role of the stock control team will not be redundant but it will be made easier with aWMS system.

>> Location and inventory checks don’t have to be done manually, meaning less mistakes and less time spent on an action.

>> Similar SKUs can be stored in multiple locations, eliminating the need for the stock control team to consolidate these locations.

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