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5 Tips For Improving Your Warehouse And Distribution Process

Improving your warehouse and distribution process isn’t necessarily as easy as it might sound since any course of action needs to take into account variables such as your products, staffing levels, scheduling and third-party vendors.

Improving Warehouse And Distribution

What this means is that your first order of business is to figure out the things that impact your warehouse and distribution process in the first place so that you can then determine how to go about making the process more efficient, productive and profitable.

What follows are 5 tips for improving your warehouse and distribution process. The first tip is definitely a game changer.

  1. Automation

    In this digital age, you simply can’t ignore the power of warehouse automation or warehouse management software. For instance, at 3PL, we offer warehousing and distribution services throughout North America, and all warehouses are fully equipped with automated transportation management systems that can help you track and trace shipments online.

  2. Mind Your Metrics

    In order to improve your warehousing and distribution process, you have to understand the metrics you will be using to figure out productivity, what baseline you’re beginning with and what your target is. A word of caution: When you set about figuring out which metrics to track, don’t go overboard. Choose a handful of metrics to track and follow them religiously rather than choosing a whole bunch and failing to keep track of all of them adequately.

  3. Get Employees Involved

    Before making any drastic moves, you should talk to employees working in the warehouse to solicit their ideas and to get their feedback. Since these workers have their boots on the ground, so to speak, they may provide suggestions that might not have occurred to you otherwise. Moreover, employees are more likely to buy into the program when the solution incorporates some of their own ideas.

  4. Set Vendor Policies

    You can get your warehouse and distribution process working like clockwork if you put together vendor compliance rules that cover, among other things, quality, packaging, purchasing terms and delivery time guarantees. When you have such a policy in place, you’ll be able to gauge how well your vendors are performing in an objective way.

  5. Review and revise

    One thing you absolutely must do is assess your strategy periodically via post mortems to see what works, what needs to be tweaked and what must be overhauled. If you continue to do this, you will reduce the risk of complacency.

It definitely is possible to improve your warehouse and distribution process, and the 5 tips above will get you on the right path.

How To Reduce Invoice Errors

Invoicing is an important part of running your business smoothly. However, inaccuracies and errors can cost you and your company money and time. Common invoice errors – that all organizations suffer from – can include incorrect purchase order, shipper or carrier number, incorrect billing address, missing contact information and incorrect charges or date. If you’re shipping internationally, these inaccuracies could mean further costs due to exchange rates.

Reduce Invoice Errors

Auditing invoices before and after their approval will prevent issues such as double-billing or overcharging, but there are some other tips to keep in mind. You can free yourself from correctional paperwork and extra charges, such as fuel surcharges, by reducing or eliminating invoice errors.

You can reduce invoice errors by keeping the below information in mind:

Third-party auditing

Introducing a third party audit and analytics specialist will ensure invoices from vendors are 100% accurate. Invoices will be taken care of and paid on your behalf so you can focus more on doing your job and less on monotonous tasks. Ultimately, you’ll be able to reduce costs and save time.

Standard invoice

Using one standard invoice for all vendors will reduce confusion. You should clearly mark each document as an invoice and include a unique reference number, as well as the date of issue. You’ll also need to include value added tax numbers and any contact information for the supplier and customer. As well, a description of the goods or services being shipped and the weight and volume of freight should be on the invoice. Lastly, you’ll need to include where the freight came from and where it’s going, as well as total charges and method of payment.

Invest in the right technology

Using auditing tools and technology will allow you to easily access your invoices and quickly make any needed changes in your own system. This will also allow you to view your invoices processed by the date or customer, as well as providing you with the ability to track orders and gauge customer interest. As well, you’ll be able to use this data to better visualize short and long term goals for your company.

Not only will you save money and time by using a standard invoice for every vendor, but you’ll also be investing in relevant technology that will allow you to visualize data from your invoice history.

9 Tips For Streamlining Your Company’s Operations

Streamlining your company’s operations can improve efficiencies, reduce costs and increase your organization’s growth. In a competitive market, it’s crucial to stay on top of your operations so you can better serve your customers. The first step is to analyzing your current operations and decide on an appropriate plan of action. However, you should also consider other aspects of your operations, including choice of supplier, outsourcing, cutting back on costs and paperwork, upgrading your systems, automating where possible, increasing collaboration and creating a positive work environment for your employees.

Streamline Your Company’s Operations

There are many benefits to streamlining your company’s operations that you might not have considered, including:

  • Return on investment
  • Increased accuracy and reduced errors
  • Accessibility to all areas of your company
  • Increased financial control

Check out the 9 tips below that will help you to better streamline your organization’s operations.

  1. Decide on the areas you want to improve

    Start by pinpointing the areas of your operation that require the most improvement or that have the greatest potential to bring in more revenue. Once you know your organization’s short and long-term goals, you can begin to set targets and deadlines and explore each phase of the process in great detail. Consult with necessary parties to ensure you’re not missing any important information. You should also be knowledgeable about the root causes of these problem areas so you can better address and prevent them.

  2. Use the Top Suppliers

    Your suppliers should be the best in their industry and meet the high standards set by your organization. Using lower-grade suppliers can lead to inefficiencies such as errors or damaged products. You’ll also want suppliers who will communicate effectively.

  3. Outsource where possible

    Many businesses are better at handling the areas of your operations that require specific attention. By hiring an outside experienced professional, you’ll be reducing costs and improving efficiency. Outsourcing your supply chain management, warehousing and distribution, cross-border shipping and more, will greatly benefit your organization. Outsourcing allows you and your employees to focus on the core of your business, ensuring you remain as competitive in your industry as possible.

  4. Cut back on costs

    Review your operations and find the places in which you’re overspending or losing money. These areas or departments of your business could be detrimental to your operations and cutting back will help you to better manage and achieve your company’s future goals. A supply chain analysis will help you to better pinpoint these areas.

  5. Use better technology

    If you’re using outdated systems and technology, it’s time to upgrade to save yourself time and money. Staying up to date is also a preventative measure that will ensure your company won’t become a victim of costly issues such as data corruption. However, updating technology can often lead to lower productivity among employees. To mitigate low productivity you can match your short and long term technology goals to your business objectives.

  6. Reduce paperwork

    Reducing the amount of paper you and your employees do will quickly streamline work flow. Paperwork can pile up and lead to wasted time, ultimately causing inefficiencies in your business. It’s important to understand why the paperwork is needed and where it goes, as well as what it adds to your procedures and how important it is to your organization.

  7. Create a positive work environment

    If your company’s workflow isn’t streamlined, it’s not only your operations and revenue that are affected – your employees could also be suffering. Retaining your employees with effective operations will ensure you keep productive workers and don’t waste money and time dealing with a high turnover rate. Employees appreciate reliability and communication, however you should also be hiring the best employees who are capable and will improve workflow.

  8. Automate certain procedures

    Automating certain necessary procedures will reduce redundancies and repetitive tasks. Certain activities and services can be simplified by putting the proper technology in place. Also, you’ll be reducing the risk of error and clarifying the duties of your employees.

  9. Increase collaboration

    Increased collaboration and communication across all areas and departments of your business will greatly improve efficiency by ensuring all employees, suppliers, customers and so on are available interactively. Some ways to improve collaboration across departments include calendaring, videoconferences and to name a few.

Using the right technology and implementing an effective plan will ensure you’re saving money and keeping your customers are happy – as well as providing you with a competitive edge. Using the above 9 tips will help you to improve efficiency in all areas of your business. Set your short and long term operational goals and follow through with top employees and suppliers, efficient and automated procedures and eliminated redundancies. An operations audit can help you to ensure your company is working as smart and effectively as possible.

Why You Need To Audit Your Vendor Contracts For Logistics Success

A seamless logistics process can help companies improve productivity and reduce their supply chain costs significantly, but many organizations are held back by their vendor contracts. It’s an area in which today’s leaders are now taking a proactive stance, and within this latest post we’ll take a look at why your organization must audit your vendor contracts to achieve optimal logistics performance.

Why Auditing Your Vendor Contracts Leads To Logistics Success

Identifying Volume Order Opportunities
One of the key benefits of the auditing process is that it empowers organizations with the ability to identify volume order opportunities. By auditing their vendor contracts, they can determine how often they order from specific companies and how large a volume of business they conduct with companies over a set period of time. They can then pinpoint their order demands over a long period and complete bulk ordering to minimize expenditure.

Consolidating the Payment Process
When auditing their vendor contracts, companies can find ways to reduce the complexity of the payment process. For example, a firm might have built a specific, multi-step payment structure before a period of growth. They may now have the resources to automate the payment process and minimize their administrative work, allowing them to allocate more resources to other areas of the logistics process.

Eliminating Overcharges and Duplicate Billings
Simple mistakes can have high costs within large contracts. Working with large vendor accounts, administrators can easily make a typing mistake or duplicate an invoice. Administrators might also miss overcharges on their accounts. This can lead to the organization overspending by thousands of dollars per year. The ideal contract audit tool can simplify contract oversight and pinpoint potential billing errors before they impact the company. These tools can also reduce duplicate billings, and help the organization retain strong relationships with their clientele.

Preventing Potential Legal Challenges
Many companies have become embroiled in legal issues and fined as a result of improper payments made by vendors on their behalf. This can lead to a loss of faith in the company, and a long, drawn out investigation that impacts the firm’s productivity in the long-term. A comprehensive and flexible audit process helps analyze vendor contracts for potential legal issues and helps protect the organization against damaging cases in the future.

By auditing their vendor contracts using the latest marketplace tools, organizations can limit their logistics costs, streamline their service to customers, and protect their brand for the long-term. To learn more on the benefits vendor auditing can offer your firm, speak with our market specialists today!

How a 3PL Company Can Revitalize Your Cross Border Shipping to Mexico

Cross border shipCross border shippingping solutions can be difficult to find, especially as the trade imbalance between Canada, the United States, and Mexico increases. Last year trade tension between Mexico and the United States increased further as storage capacity issues forced products moving between the two countries to sit at a standstill. But as demand for exports in Mexico keeps growing, it is important to revitalize your cross border shipping process. Without a proper method of shipping products within the continent, business may slow down or even come to a halt. By outsourcing your logistics services, you can feel confident in knowing that you have effective shipping solutions and can dedicate your time elsewhere. Continue reading

Have A Custom Distribution Services Plan Made For Your Business

Have a Custom Distribution Plan Made For Your BusinessLogistics got its start in the military as a way to deliver equipment and supplies to troops. Its evolution into a “tool of the trade” began in the 1950″s, when complexity dictated that businesses find a way to globalize supply and demand by shipping products via an international supply chain. Fast forward to today, and those complexities still exist. Be it at the point of origin or the point of consumption, management is essential. This means that a solid distribution services plan vital in the global marketplace. Continue reading

Logistics Solutions for the Hotel and Hospitality Industries

Logistics SolutionsIn the corporate world, the catch-all term “logistics” describes any and all activities involved in the transportation and warehousing of goods.

Commercial logistics adopted the concept from its military application, where the procurement, maintenance and transportation of materials, facilities and personnel are all of equal importance. In essence, logistics is the science of supply chain management.

Providing logistics solutions to the hotel and hospitality industries is a very particular discipline, one that’s practiced almost as an art form at 3PL Links.
Continue reading

What Type of Supply Chain Disruptions are a Threat to Your Business?

Supply Chain DisruptionsMany businesses share common management concerns including potential supply chain disruptions. These common supply chain threats include extreme weather like hurricanes or tornadoes, or natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. Other kinds of disruptions like supplier breaks, labor issues and pricing risks, are perhaps less dramatic, but hold the same potential for damage. For every business, the type and ultimate impact of supply chain disruptions will vary. There are several threats to a business”s supply chain, especially if they rely on transportation.

Supplier Breaks

Any manager waiting for a truckload of raw materials originating in a hurricane zone along the Gulf knows that unforeseen disruptions are costly and can potentially put their business at risk. Supplier breaks can arise for a variety of reasons.

Climate change and environmental damage continue to cause supplier breaks because they can lead to swings in the cost of commodities and other materials prices, which can affect your bottom line. For example, changes in climate led to a reduction in grain crops in Eastern Europe, leaving many food manufacturers forced to increase prices to cover the drop in supply and subsequent increase in price. Unanticipated events like explosions in warehouses, business failures, or new regulations can end in supplier breaks too. Continue reading

How to Choose Supply Chain technology

Supply Chain TechnologyChoosing supply chain technology is the most important decision a logistics manager makes in his or her career. Why? Simply because the right software solution can propel a company forward, regardless of how bad the economy is, while the wrong one may bury the business for good. Unfortunately, selecting the best supply chain management (SCM) system can be difficult.

Selecting a SCM System

Never has so much technology been developed to help organizations improve supply chain performance. Yet, the performance of most supply chains has never been worse. Due to poor coordination and planning, dysfunctional industry practices, and high costs resulting from adversarial relations among partners, most supply chain organizations generate low profit margins, surviving, not thriving. To help you choose the right SCM system for your company, the rest of this post delineates the steps you should follow in the selection process. Continue reading

International Supply Chain Solutions for Companies Operating Across Borders

International Supply Chain SolutionsThe ratio of world trade to the GDP of the globe as a whole, an index also used to measure openness of economies, increased by 20 percent to just over US$20 trillion by the end of 2011. The sharp rise in global trade over the past two decades is partly due to innovations in logistics as well as changes in policies in trading countries, which has led to a reduction in the cost of delivering goods and services across borders.

A report launched by WEF indicates that removing supply chain bottlenecks could significantly enhance global trade. For example, if counties were to improve border management and necessary infrastructure, especially transport systems, to just half the level of Singapore, the global GDP would shoot by 4.7 percent which is about six times what we would get by scrapping all import tariffs. Continue reading

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