The goal of shipping is clear. Get every customer's order delivered as accurately, quickly, and inexpensively as possible. In practice, it is a complex operation with a tremendous volume of paperwork that is often generated by hand.
Under most shipping conditions there are multiple docks, staging areas, and trucks being loaded by many employees at the same time. The material handlers are given a customer order detailing the quantity of each item needed to fulfill the order. Because orders are in item quantity, the handlers must figure out how many cartons or pallets are needed to supply the exact number of items. The cartons and/or pallets are collected and brought to the staging area. The handlers then hand write customer-specific package labels, address labels, and packing slips for each carton and pallet they placed in staging.
Once the items are in the staging area the shipping handlers verify that the item type and quantity for each customer are correct. The order is then moved from staging to the truck. Generally, different personnel are recording the necessary 'will call' and standard bills of lading, tally sheets, and transfer sheets. In most cases, these calculations and paperwork are done manually.
Benefits of Applied Technology:
The financial savings in just paperwork processing are enormous. There is no need to create or purchase special forms. The time spent filling out all the various forms is eliminated. All clerical entry of hand-written forms is removed, thus eliminating both the entry time and errors. Shipping personnel and material handlers are freed from spending an enormous number of manhours doing mathematical calculations on the fly, and handwriting forms. With the elimination of handwriting forms, key-entering, and mental mathematics there comes a new level of accuracy and speed.
Shipments are now verified against the actual order with a single scan, as they are loaded onto the trailer. The potential for incorrect shipments is dramatically reduced. The value of this is not just the dollars saved, but avoiding the damage mis-shipments do to your customer relations.
Daily reports are processed and available quickly and without clerical participation. As an added bonus, the Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) are immediately sent to those customers who require them.
Because an automated system can apply the shipment data to reducing inventory counts, valuable information is available immediately for production scheduling and stock replenishments. Tighter controls in shipping make it possible to decrease the number of inventory 'stockouts'.
Technology in Action:
The automation system uses unique bar-codes for each dock and truck. Every pallet and carton receive a bar-coded label containing a unique identification number, item description, unit of measurement, and item quantity. All shipping personnel and material handlers are outfitted with hand-held computers with scanners.
The daily shipping orders are given to the material handlers. Because the number of items in each pallet/carton is preprogrammed, the handheld computer displays the exact number of pallets and/or cartons needed for each order - not the number of items. The items are scanned as they are removed from storage and placed in the staging area. By the time the handler has placed the items in the correct staging area location, the needed shipping documents have been printed by the system. He attaches the mailing labels, secures the other forms to the carton/pallet, and moves on to the next order.
When the items are being moved to the trucks, shipping personnel scan the truck, dock and pallet/carton. The description of the item and amount are automatically recorded and linked to the particular shipper, customer and warehouse. The system is flexible enough to provide for any variable in number of drops, or for multiple packing slips. There are even options for removing cartons from a loaded truck and returning them to inventory. The bills of lading and packing slips are printed immediately on location, before the truck departs. ASNs are sent off straight away. All the shipping information is processed immediately and available for daily inventory and shipping status reports.
Our applications are designed specifically for the needs of our clients. The above is a general description of a typical situation. For specific case samples please see the Success Stories section of our web site.