For most warehouses, operational management is something that is always in need of improvement. Considering that your business relies on efficiency and accuracy, the better you can get at both the more profitable and successful you can become.
There are a lot of ways that you can measure your current status and see where you can improve, but one of the most essential metrics is the dock-to-stock measurement. Today we’ll go over what this is exactly, as well as what steps you can take to improve your current standing.
What is Dock to Stock?
As the name would suggest, this metric is defined by your ability to move product from the shipping floor into your inventory. It begins when the items arrive at your loading dock and ends when everything is stocked and accounted for.
Although the metric itself is simple and easy to calculate, there are so many different variables included that your operations may be completely off from where they should be. In fact, according to a recent study, the top performers in the dock-to-stock measurement took about four hours to get complete, while the bottom companies took over forty-eight hours to do the same thing.
So why such a discrepancy? Well, it’s partially because of the many variables, but most of the time it has to do with businesses not focusing their time and effort on streamlining their operations, so they are doing things incredibly inefficiently. So, with that in mind, let’s go over the steps you can take to become one of the top performers in this arena.
When you look at the warehouses that have the most problems, most of the time you will see that workers have to spend far more time walking and moving from place to place than actually doing any work. The more time in transit, the less time that they can be doing anything else, which means that operations come to a halt.
The simplest solution then would be to figure out a better layout of the warehouse so that staff members are not moving as much. In some cases, this can be as easy as allowing devices and materials to travel with the employee, rather than being in a fixed position somewhere. In other instances, it can be a matter of redesigning the whole layout of the warehouse itself so that your loads take far less time to get into inventory. While that may seem like a huge undertaking at first, the results can be more than worth the time.
To make sure that you’re running smoothly, develop some kind of map that tracks employee movement throughout the day. You don’t have to do each staff member, but just make sure that you have at least one person from each operation level so that you can figure out where changes need to be made in each section. Ideally, movement and transit should only account for about a quarter of each employee’s time throughout the day. If you can do less, then you are doing great.
Streamline Your Data
If your staff is having to enter information manually or worse, write it down, then you are running at peak inefficiency. While you may not like the price points for mobile devices and a state-of-the-art back of house system, the time and money that you’ll save in the long run should have you on the phone trying to buy new equipment pronto.
The best way to reduce wasted time and effort is to implement a system where employees can scan items as they move into stock and the data goes into your back of house immediately. This way, you don’t have to enter things in twice (once on site and again at the computer) and you can help reduce error. If people have to write down or input numbers manually all day, there are bound to be some mistakes here and there.
Handle Products Less
Many times when trying to move items off of the dock you will place them in a holding area (like a corner or something) until you can move it to where it needs to go. This means that you will handle the stock multiple times before it’s finally recorded, which can cut down on your efficiency by a substantial margin.
Instead, make sure that your layout is such that product can be put into inventory right away so that fewer people are handling it and there is less wasted time and energy. An excellent way to check this is to place a sticker dot on a product and see how many times it was touched before being entered into inventory.
In the end, the more you can focus on reducing redundancies in your operations, the better your dock to stock ratio will be. Other habits that you should get into include receiving shipping notifications from suppliers so that you know exactly when deliveries will arrive, RFID tagging so that information can be scanned instead of manually entered, and wireless communication between devices.
That will enable employees to use mobile scanners and materials rather than having to write things down by hand or go to a particular section to upload data. If you can do that, you will be much better off overall.