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Greatest Warehousing Thread Ever

12:49 am on Jun 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Some threads you just don't forget, like this one from 2010. Here a small web business develops a cutting edge warehouse/shipping system. As a plus, the owner can run his rural Colorado warehouse while sitting on a beach in Southern California!

10:01 pm on June 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the bump, jsinger.

Been some improvements since then, so I should post a quick update.

Haven't been back to the CO warehouse in a year, and really no need to go back anytime soon, as it just runs itself.

Implemented a better system for receiving incoming shipments of inventory. Like a reverse pick list. Lets say we receive a shipment of 80 cartons. Each carton has a barcode on the outside, so we pick one at random and scan it.

The receiving screen then shows the user what is inside the carton, and the user starts scanning the barcoded contents of the carton. There's a large rolling cart with 16 numbered bins. The screen then assigns scanned products to different bins. So after each scan, the screen will tell the user which bin to put the product into. Obviously it groups the same part number / sku into the same bins. Then when the 16 bins are full, the user pushes the cart through the warehouse aisles. There's an iPod touch attached to the front, so it tells the user the route. It tells them to put a certain bin on the cart into a certain warehouse inventory bin location. And then we repeat the process.

The cool thing is there's also a handful of network cameras that capture everything barcode scan with still shots. So each carton scan, each product scan, etc gets its own photo, from multiple angles. Anywhere in the world, I can view the live receiving status. "2 seconds ago, so and so received x amount of product from purchase order x, etc.., and here's a photo showing exactly what the product looks like"

Another cool feature: out of those 80 cartons, only a few have products that are in urgent need of shipment. The rest are just for normal inventory. But we want to make sure to get the backordered orders out quickly. Since the system knows which cartons have which products, it prompts the user to open certain cartons first. So like, "urgent cartons: 4, 13, 34, 47, etc.."

This only really works because we control the supply side too. So all incoming shipments to the CO warehouse first come through our Hong Kong warehouse. In Hong Kong, everything is tested, re-packed, labeled, master-packed, etc. And then assigned to cartons. It all runs on the same database backend, so we've got complete control over the data.

No more messy shipments coming from China. Everything is super clean, uniform, organized, etc.

There's an algorithm that calculates how much, and when to ship items from HK to CO by UPS Air, and the rest by Ocean. Consolidates, and optimizes shipping costs.

So the biggest bang for your buck warehouse improvements are of course barcodes. And then storing products in completely random locations. I find when two similar products go into bins next to each other, mistakes are more likely. So make a point to keep similar products far apart.
5:10 am on June 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

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No more messy shipments coming from China.

One of those 'Really? It's not just us?!" moments. Nothing like getting a shipment of thousands of items stuffed into a container with absolutely no rhyme or reason.
4:59 pm on June 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Wow that original thread is incredible. The only thing missing are robots.

We are in the process of setting of moving out of the garage and setting up our own warehouse this year and this post was very informative.

A lot of it would be too much for us at first since we are a lot smaller. We only ship out 50 orders per day.
8:53 pm on June 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

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One of those 'Really? It's not just us?!" moments. Nothing like getting a shipment of thousands of items stuffed into a container with absolutely no rhyme or reason.

Oh man... On one of the few components I get from over there... Had a bunch of them show up the other day. Some genius took a part that has serrated sharp edges and laid that down on top of the painted surface of of the items, on every last one of them. So of big surprise... when they got stacked on top of each other and rattled around for thousand of miles... the sharp object scratched the crap out of the paint on all of them. It's one of those things where you just stand there in shock that somebody could be that stupid... then look for the nearest thing to throw across the room and go drive around for an hour to cool down.
8:43 pm on June 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I remember that thread, and especially now that we are trying to get yet another out-of-the-box inventory software installed, our third in less than 12 months!

philbish, may I ask if you would consider selling the information on the entire process?