The poll conducted among 132 warehouse operators across the manufacturing, wholesale and 3PL sectors indicated that one-third, or 33 percent, of the polled put improving the accuracy of their fulfillment operations at or near the top of their priority list.
“The error spiral inflicts direct cost and indirect damage; improving pick accuracy from 99.95 to 99.99 percent may not look like a lot, but it is often the difference between success and failure,” said Ian Roper, divisional director of supply chain solutions at Access, a warehouse management system vendor that commissioned the research conducted by Redshift Research.
“Given the systems available to companies large and small, which should ensure near-total accuracy, there is no forgiveness and no hiding place,” he added.
Survey results indicated that some 56 percent of firms are picking at least partially to paper instructions and a half use paper receipts for goods received.
“Yet the impossibility of paper-based systems reflecting the complexity found in today’s warehouses in real time should be obvious,” the report said.
Roper said what will improve pick accuracy is a real-time warehouse management system that uses the most appropriate combination of technologies, such as radio frequency (RF) communications, bar-coding, voice picking, and other systems.
This, he added, “is the answer for picking quickly, accurately, and efficiently from fast-moving stock, and for the stock on the shelf to be replenished automatically as soon as needed.”
The research found that 35 percent of respondents were using RF in the warehouse. To compete with them, warehouse operators can turn to IT solutions to improve fulfillment accuracy, said Roper.
“Warehouse IT is a differentiator that can give customers and clients accurate and transparent information about their goods and orders.”