Receiving goods is a crucial activity in warehouse operations as it marks the start of the material flow. Mishandling this process can result in errors that negatively impact inventory and reduce warehouse efficiency, ultimately leading to increased operating costs.
Thus, it is critical to properly organize goods receiving to ensure an efficient and cost-effective warehouse. It is essential to understand the tasks that comprise this process, their scope, and how to implement strategies to enhance their effectiveness.
There are several tasks associated with receiving goods. This process involves more than simply recording the arrival of orders sent by suppliers. In fact, it comprises several related tasks that can be grouped into four main categories:
1. Planning and Information Management Phase
The first phase of goods receiving is planning and information management. It is essential to plan the arrival of goods in advance to avoid congestion at the warehouse docks. Adequate coordination of the supply chain and effective management of supplies are key factors that influence the goods-receiving process. For example, these operations are the foundation for cross-docking practice.
In addition, to ensure streamlined goods receiving, good information management is essential, and all parties involved must be informed about the expected orders and their arrival schedules.
2. Unloading operations and loading dock management.
The second block of operations refers to unloading goods from trucks and their subsequent transfer to the receiving or consolidation area or directly to their location on the warehouse shelves.
It is important for workers in charge of goods receiving to have clear procedures available for each situation that may arise. This way, they will be trained to perform the necessary operations and properly use the required material handling equipment.
3. Quality control of the products
Upon receipt of the orders, an initial check is made of the delivery notes to see if they match what was agreed with the supplier in terms of quantity, model, and characteristics. We also check that the packaging is in perfect condition. Depending on the type of cargo received, after the above initial check, it will be necessary to carry out, in some cases, a more in-depth quality control. For example, this is the case when:
- Raw materials are received at the warehouse, and many companies have their own quality control processes to evaluate them.
- If the products are food or certain drugs that require specific temperature and humidity conditions for proper preservation, this stage is essential to verify that the cold chain has not been compromised.
- If the goods are hazardous, there are specific regulations that govern their packaging, loading, and unloading procedures due to the added risks involved in handling them.
The time required to perform these checks is known as quarantine, and the warehouse will need a reserved area for these procedures. If the goods arrive in standardized pallets, quality control can be automated thanks to the integrated pallet inspection stations on conveyors.
4. Labeling, consolidation, and location of goods
It is essential to maintain a record of all information gathered during the goods-receiving process to ensure traceability. Receiving sheets, which collect data such as the order number or code, delivery note, quality control results, description, and identification of the goods and quantities received, are necessary for this purpose. In warehouses that have a WMS, this data is automatically recorded and integrated into the company’s logistics parameters, usually linked to the ERP database.
During the goods-receiving process, various situations may arise, including the following:
- Before placing the merchandise in the warehouse, it may be necessary to consolidate and register goods that arrive without being palletized.
- If the goods arrive organized in pallets, a quick validation of quantities and characteristics is performed before they are transported directly to the shelves.
- To process returns, the company’s reverse logistics management is activated. This often involves applying specific rules for reviewing returned products, which may require blocking stock for these checks.
Sometimes there are blind receipt situations, where an order arrives without prior knowledge or at a different time than agreed. Although not ideal, it is important to have a plan of action in place to handle such situations effectively. A warehouse management system can be very useful in these cases, directing the activity without interfering with other warehouse operations or affecting inventory control.
Furthermore, during this phase, it is crucial to label the merchandise with the company’s identification system and assign it a location in the warehouse.
Maximizing efficiency in the goods receipt phase of warehouse operations
What are the measures that can be implemented to improve goods receipt in the warehouse? Considering the following tips can help you to carry out an effective inbound process:
– It is essential to adapt the planning of incoming goods to the characteristics of the warehouse layout:
A bidirectional relationship exists between the warehouse layout and the planning of operations, including goods receiving. During the warehouse design phase, it is crucial to consider the layout of the loading docks, their characteristics based on the type of trucks and goods they transport, and the number of required accesses while also anticipating possible future expansions. Similarly, planning for the management of incoming and outgoing goods must take into account the available infrastructure.
– Consider automating tasks in goods receiving:
Saturation of warehouse access points can sometimes result from structural changes affecting a company’s operations rather than poor planning. For example, an increase in sales can lead to a gradual rise in warehouse activity.
Before reaching a critical point, it is advisable to analyze processes, detect areas for improvement and find solutions to streamline them. In this sense, the automation of some of the tasks involved in receiving goods has very good results when the warehouse is attached to the production center since product entry movements are repetitive and easily predictable.
-Implementing protocols that regulate the entire goods-receiving process:
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a great tool for standardizing and controlling tasks. With a WMS, paper records are eliminated, and all information is integrated into one place, making it easy to access and control.
The WMS allows you to perform goods-receiving functions such as forecasting incoming stock, recording goods, labeling them, and managing their location to optimize available space. It also helps to organize more complex tasks, such as managing blind receiving, returns, and cross-docking.
In conclusion, operator training is essential for efficient warehouse operations, regardless of the goods-receiving strategies and phases implemented. Whether using a warehouse management system or not, worker skills are critical for efficient warehouse functioning.
If you are looking to improve your warehouse logistics processes, including goods receiving, contact VGS. One of our experts will analyze your operation in detail and propose customized solutions for your specific problems.