The heart of a company is its warehouse operations. When these operations are running efficiently, costs are low and customers are happy. But when they’re not, employees aren’t as productive, the business loses money and credibility, and customers may take their business elsewhere.

One of the top factors to running an efficient warehouse is to have a solid receiving process. Your warehouse receiving process’ purpose is to receive the right product in the right quantities and condition at the right time. Proper receiving has a direct impact on all subsequent processes, so it’s critical to get this piece right before errors compound. Here are five ways you can improve your warehouse receiving right now.

A Quick Guide to Improving Warehouse Receiving

Step 1: Communicate Before Receiving

Knowing what’s coming, in what quantities, and via which carrier can help you prepare for incoming shipments.

  • Are inbound shipments on pallets or loose items? Have the right equipment and personnel ready to unload the cargo in receiving.
  • How many items are in each container? Ask for a count ahead of time and have that number written on the exterior packaging to make it easy for staff to compare to the order.
  • Which carrier or transporters is bringing the shipment? Knowing that Acme Company has subcontracted to ABC Transportation can help you quickly match inbound shipments to orders.
  • Label information: Work out the label instructions with the supplier. Know when you’ll need a barcode scanner or chip reader on hand to read the information and upload it into your ERP system.
  • Label position: If peel and stick labels are used, ask your supplier to apply them consistently to each pallet, carton, or container for easy inbound scanning.

Step 2: Have Sufficient Staffing to Receive Shipments

Estimate the number of people and hours it will take to process receivables based on data, then ensure you have enough staff on hand. Find this number by reviewing reports from your ERP for manufacturing system, inventory control software, and warehouse management software (WMS).

Data reports from both ERP and warehouse software can help you estimate how long it took to unload similar shipments in the past, as well as the types of equipment and number of personnel needed, allowing you to schedule future resources with greater accuracy.

Step 3: Safety First

Safely handling goods in receiving is also an essential part of improving receiving in a warehouse.

Speed is critical, but safety should never be sacrificed to speed. Make sure employees follow proper safety procedures, especially when working around forklifts and other heavy machinery.

  • Make sure trucks are correctly docked in the cargo bay.
  • Check to ensure safety brakes are engaged.
  • Note the weight of the trailer and cargo. Check to make sure it can also take the weight of the forklift as pallets are moved off the truck.

Next is the safety of the cargo. Perishable goods should be kept at the appropriate temperature, so double-check transit thermometers, and ensure products are moved quickly from the truck to the proper temperature-regulated environment. Receiving personnel should also check all seals, locks, and other safety features on drums, barrels, and containers, especially when moving chemicals, liquids, and anything flammable or dangerous.

Step 4: Review the Cargo Verification Process

If you have a process in place to check shipments, review how well it is working. Review orders for the correct items and quantities, as well as any damage. Record any discrepancies between the order, bill of lading, and receipt. Report them immediately to the supplier so replacement or credits can be issued, or damaged items returned promptly.

Counting and verifying damaged cargo can be time-consuming, but barcode scanners and warehouse management software can make this process efficient. For large orders, a spot check of pallets and containers may be all that’s needed to verify items were received in good order.

Step 5: Stock the Warehouse

The last step after verifying the contents of the shipment is to move it promptly to the right area of the warehouse. Update or replace barcodes on pallets or containers as needed, scan them into the WMS or ERP system, and update bin and shelf numbers to reflect the new counts.

Be sure to check barcodes and labels throughout the warehouse, especially when moving cargo from receiving into long-term storage. Time and environment can wear on labels and packaging, so replace tags that have become illegible.

Improve Warehouse Receiving With the Right Software

Running efficient warehouse operations starts with an organized receiving process. Lacking process-oriented operations can affect both efficiency and safety, impacting your business’ bottom line as well as customer satisfaction and retention.

Having the right software in place can vastly improve your receiving efficiency. Combining warehouse management software with an ERP like Acumatica or Sage 100cloud will give your managers and receiving clerks the data they need to make the right decisions on personnel, space, and equipment. Driving decisions with data—not guesswork—is key to improving efficiency and the bottom line.

Find the right ERP solution for your warehouse receiving efficiency goals. Talk to one of Accounting Solutions’ experts now.