Reprinted with permission by Newcastle Systems, Inc.

You could argue that all areas of the warehouse are equally important but the bottom line is if we receive things poorly the odds of us picking them and shipping them properly are pretty close to zero.

When it comes to world-class receiving and put away one of the general principles is to try to minimize the number of handling steps throughout the process.

It can’t be emphasized enough just how important receiving and put away is in the whole process of warehousing. Maybe you’ve heard the expression garbage in garbage out. It’s important to understand how receiving and put away are linked with all of the other activities not just in the warehouse but in the supply chain as a whole. There’s a very direct link between receiving and put away and the suppliers that we’ve chosen and the practices that we’ve chosen to use to integrate with those suppliers.

Five Key Principles to Keep in Mind When Optimizing Receiving and Putaway

1. Proactive Activity

The general idea in receiving is that all of the resources to accomplish this they need to be scheduled so it’s a proactive activity it’s not something that is reactive.

2. Minimal Flow Path

There’re all kinds of different flow paths that receipts can take. It’s key to make sure that for each product coming from each type of supplier you have chosen the minimum cost flow path.

3. Minimize delay

It’s crucial to do all that you can to put away immediately so there’s no delay between the receiving and the putaway process. It’s important to make sure that you chose the optimal location for the put away. It’s useful to combine put away and retrieval activity to maximize the labor utilization the equipment utilization.

4. Quality Control

Maintain a quality control group in the warehouse to monitor put away accuracy – just like they would be monitoring picking accuracy, shipping accuracy, and inventory accuracy. This way mistakes are caught early in the process instead of late in the process when it’s difficult to do something about it. Another opportunity for quality control is to monitor the damage rate and put away. Oftentimes, as a result of the excess handling or sorting that may be required a good portion of the damage may occur in the putaway process.

5. The Ability to Assign Receiving Docks

If you utilize a concept called pre-receiving (assigning a product of location in transit) then you will know where exactly the inbound pallets will be located in your warehouse. Take the time to assign each inbound truck to the dock door that minimizes the processing time for that inbound truck. That little simple step may be worth an increase of receiving productivity of fifty percent.

The Receiving Revolution

Did you know most warehouse inventory errors start in receiving? If you make a mistake in the receiving area, it can have a 10-fold effect on the rest of the warehouse process. The number one piece of advice experts have when it comes to warehouse optimization is that optimizing receiving is the first most important step to optimizing the warehouse.

Many warehouse layouts diminish the size and importance of receiving at a great detriment to their entire operation. Think of all the activities receiving does. They add labels, count the items and reconcile them with the manufacturer’s packing list. They break down pallets. They accommodate back orders, they report manufacturers shipping errors. All this activity needs to be supported and optimized. By focusing on reducing receiving errors and inefficiencies you will improve the flow of your entire warehouse.