Reducing warehouse costs can usually be found at the top of any warehouse manager’s ‘to-do’ list. In fact, in a recent survey completed by 132 warehouse operators, 43 percent said that reducing the cost of running a warehouse was the most critical challenge to business improvement.

However, reducing the mountain of costs in a warehouse can often seem like an Everest to climb – with day-to-day operations taking priority, you never quite know whether it’s going to be a rocky road to cutting costs or indeed, if the steps you’re taking are going to lead you to the summit of success.

One of the mantras of reducing cost is to reduce waste – but to get the best results it might be time to rethink your definition of ‘waste’. This doesn’t need to just refer to physical waste – the rubbish and ‘stuff’ that you need to stop purchasing or to throw out. Waste can be intangible – it can be a process that’s performed inefficiently or incorrectly, which leads to time, effort and resources being used unnecessarily.

In the same survey we referred to earlier, one in seven of respondents blamed losses on conflicting software and data collection systems for warehousing and invoicing. As communication between these vital functions breaks down, errors are inevitable. It is these errors that create unnecessary or ‘wasteful’ expenses and issues.

Inventory scanning and palette tracking is one such ‘wasteful’ process that be made faster, easier and error-free. With such fine profitability margins in the operation of a warehouse, something as innocuous as the way that a pallet or asset is scanned can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful day.

Typically, when scanning a pallet, forklift drivers must manoeuvre their vehicle into a suitable position that enables them to physically scan the barcode. It’s hardly ever a simple case of drive up, arm out, scan and be done. In fact, the entire process, assuming it is done correctly, usually takes around 10-15 seconds each time.

Although this doesn’t seem like much, when you think about how many items you need to scan each hour, let alone each day, it’s clear to see the amount of time that’s potentially wasted on this activity. If not optimised, the time it takes to complete this process can lead to excessive labour and material handling equipment (MHE) rental costs – reducing profitability.

There’s also the issue of items being missed or the wrong item being scanned – all too easy to do with a manual scanning process that solely relies on the accuracy of a time-poor forklift truck driver. Manual scanning or warehouse pallet tracking techniques leave the asset storage and delivery process open to human error, with the misplacement of goods and delivery of the wrong product a common occurrence.

These are costly and in some cases damaging mistakes; the total cost to the business of retrieving a wrongly delivered product may exceed its value and customers may opt to utilise the services of alternative service providers in the future to avoid further errors.

So what if we told you that, thanks to innovation warehouse automation technology, it was possible to automate pallet tracking and the entire scanning process – making it much more efficient and removing the risk of error? What if we told you that you could move each and every one of your pallets up to 15 seconds faster – a saving of four hours for every 1,000 pallets moved?

If this sounds like something your balance sheet can benefit from, click here to find out more.