Paper is not a thing of the past in distribution centers, but it probably should be. More importanlty, the reasons go well beyond simply saving trees (a laudable goal) to an even more compelling arguement: It's just better business all around.
In a 2005 Inbound Logistics article, Leslie Hansen Harps wrote that the speed through the distribution center is critical. "Effective operations use best practices within the four walls of the facility -- and beyond." One of the best-practices discussed in the article: reducing reliance on paper. Specifically, the article referenced moving to hands-free solutions. Denny McKnight of Tompkins Associates Inc. told Harps: "People writing numbers on pads of paper or keying strings of numbers into a keyboard is a bad sign."
Almost 10 years later, paper use is still surprisingly rampant in distribution centers. A recent Intermec survey of supply chain and distribution center mangers found that 27% of companies in the US are still using paper to conduct distribution center processes. Why does this matter? Paper use is costly -- very costly.
Paper use in distribution centers is inefficient and ineffective. Not only is it a drain on productivity, but it also hurts customer satisfaction and your bottom line. Here are 11 (more) benefits of reducing your reliance on paper:
- Increased inventory visibility
- Increased fulfillment accuracy
- Fewer lost sales
- Fewer out-of-stock situations
- Reduced search time
- Increased communication with customers
- Increased communication within/across the company
- Waste reduction
- Overhead cost cuts
- Document storage cost cuts
- A safer work environment
Has your company reduced its reliance on paper? If so, what benefits have you realized? If your company is writing things down on paper, why?