Three ways to minimise warehouse waste – with help from a WMS

Three ways to minimise warehouse waste – with help from a WMS

25 March 2022

  • waste management

 

Waste is such a problem in today’s society and a huge environmental issue, a recent study has revealed that disposable masks used around the world will take 400+ years to degrade. In warehouses, waste reduction is a key part of warehouse management to improve as companies move towards a net zero operating model. Food warehouses in particular can benefit from adopting a Warehouse Management System (WMS) to cut wastage as this article highlights.

Shelf-life management

Supermarkets are starting to control waste levels by removing use by dates, with milk products being a good example. Morrison’s recently announced a switch from use by dates to best before dates on its milk labelling, to help reduce the 490 million pints of milk wasted every year in the UK and suggests that consumers opt for a ‘sniff test’ instead. In warehouses, sniffing for quality might not be feasible, but traceability functionality built into a WMS can monitor shelf-life dates around pre-set parameters.

Using a WMS to optimise stock rotation will ensure that items with a limited shelf life are picked first to minimise wastage. This extends beyond the obvious perishable raw materials to also include colour ranges and packaging items. These can in turn also impair finished product quality if they are past their recommended use by date. A WMS makes this easy by automatically reminding operatives of which lots to pick first, based on first in first out (FIFO) principles.

Improved space utilisation

Another way a warehouse management system can cut wastage is by making the best possible use of available space inside chilled environments. Using a WMS enables up to 30% more inventory to be stored in any given warehouse space, without any adverse effect on efficiency levels. This is achieved because a WMS makes it possible to store inventory in a more flexible way, using dynamic location setting. Rather than keeping to pre-designated stock locations - some of which could be half empty - a WMS directs operatives to place stocks wherever there is a slot available. Then, when it is time to pick the orders, the software guides pickers to where the stock is held for processing.

Making stock counting a daily routine

A WMS makes it easy to introduce daily or cyclical stock counting, helping warehouse managers eliminate the hassle of site wide stock counting events to track inventory. During routine counting, stock can be checked on an ongoing basis to assess its condition and damaged goods are quickly identified and reported. Where quality problems arise, these can be dealt with swiftly with any waste kept to a minimum.

This way of working is also an effective way to maintain high inventory accuracy, minimise shrinkage and ensure business as usual whilst counting is in progress. Materials movements can be accurately recorded with an electronic audit trail and discrepancies are immediately apparent.

Minimising your carbon footprint is an important responsibility that every warehouse needs to consider carefully. An efficiently run operation, supported by a best of breed WMS solution is a great way to future proof your warehouse and keep waste to a minimum.