Tag Archives: how to train a warehouse employee

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Flag Problems from the RF Terminal

Even the best-organized warehouses have occasional problems or messes on the warehouse floor. Things break, people make mistakes or the unexpected just happens. And when it does, someone needs to fix it without taking too much time away from their normal workday duties.

To make this process a little simpler, Latitude now allows you to flag any problems with bins, items, sales orders or purchase orders directly from an RF terminal. That way the person who discovers the problem can quickly make a note about the issue and add it to the Problem List without exiting their workflow or dropping everything to find a supervisor in person. Likewise, supervisors can view Problem Lists and get an accurate update on anything happening in the warehouse.

Setting this up takes a few steps. First, make sure that MARK Bin, Item, Sales Order and Purchase Order are in your TOOLS menu. They are included in the DEFAULT tool menu, but you may have moved them if you’ve customized your menu. Second, define your “Problem” reason code by going to Administration – Class Maintenance – Problems Reason Codes. Common reason codes are DAMAGED BIN, INCORRECT ITEM, INCORRECT QUANTITY, etc.

Now your employees can press F3 – Tools – Mark Item on their RF terminals, choose the appropriate problem reason code from the list that you defined, and scan the problem item. After scanning the item, you can also enter notes to explain the problem in more detail.

To review problems flagged this way, go into Latitude Web to Activities – Cycle Count – Problem Items. You can also review Purchase Orders and Sales Orders flagged as Problems under their respective Activities menu group. For problems with incorrect item quantity, click Functions – Generate Cycle Count Job to create a cycle counting job from this screen. Once a problem has been solved, click Functions-Flush All Records to remove an item from the list.

That’s all for this issue of Latitude Tips and Tricks. Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks, and check out our Content Marketing Hub for videos, photos and presentations from our customers and partners. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or have a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach any member of our Customer Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

Latitude Tips & Tricks for Shadowing an RF Terminal

This week we’re continuing our “Tips and Tricks for Latitude” series of posts by highlighting an important feature that can help with troubleshooting and employee communication – RF terminal shadowing.

Shadow RF Terminals

The ability to shadow RF terminals is a feature that Latitude WMS has enabled for a while, but it was previously only accessible through the Latitude Management Console and on a limited basis. But, since shadowing a terminal has a lot of beneficial applications for employee training, management and troubleshooting, we’ve made it easier for everyone to use. You can now access this function from Latitude Web.

Here are the steps required:

  1. Click on the Shadow RF Terminals icon on the welcome screen, and log into the Shadow console.
  2. Scroll down to the user you want to shadow, and select Shadow Terminal. This will give you access to a list of the last 50 transactions by that user and let you watch all of their activity in real time.
  3. If you need to reach a specific employee or all employees at once, you can hit the Send Message button to send a message to one specific RF terminal, or to all active terminals. This function comes in handy when calling a group meeting or asking questions to other team members.
  4. Finally, you can restrict access to the Shadow RF feature by editing permissions in the Access Rights Profile.

Why do it?

If someone has questions about a specific pick or order, sometimes checking this record can solve it. You can also shadow a terminal to see exactly what an employee is doing during the workday, which is especially useful if you have concerns about productivity.

Shadowing also makes it possible to troubleshoot remotely. For example, if you have an employee at a separate location, and there are consistent problems with a specific task, shadowing that terminal and walking through the process can help a manager or experienced staff member isolate and resolve the problem.

We’re confident you’ll find the new Shadow RF feature in Latitude very helpful. If you have a suggestion for a new Latitude feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please let us know. You can reach our support team at 1-888-627-9797.

Latitude Tips & Tricks for Inventory Management

Being able to instantly access information about your inventory is powerful. Do you know what product you have, how much of it is available and where it’s located? More importantly, can you count on this information to be accurate? Latitude WMS has every function you need for complete visibility. Here are some tips you might not know about, but are huge warehouse time-savers.

New Latitude WMS Search Tools

Save time by checking inventory and sales orders in Latitude Web.

  • To find a specific sales order, go to Activities – Order Processing – Find a Sales Order, enter some of the identifying information and hit “Find
  • To find inventory, go to Activities – Order Processing – Find Inventory and enter the bin number for a list of the inventory contained in that bin.
  • You can also filter the list of inventory items by column to help you track down that one specific order you’re looking for. Right-click on any web column header and left-click “Filter” from the drop-down menu. You can also left-click any web column heading and enter the value that you want to filter.

Inventory Contents Label

Latitude WMS can print a label that displays the contents of any load or bin location on demand. This is similar to a Carton Contents Label, but isn’t tied to an order. It’s especially useful for printing the contents of a mixed pallet location for a quick info lookup. To do this from an RF terminal, hit F3 – Tools – Labels – Inventory Content Label, scan the source Load or Bin, and enter the number of labels that you need. These labels can be customized or set to automatically print during the receiving process if you want hard copies of documentation for incoming shipments.

Replace the Annual Physical Inventory with Cycle Counting

Many of our customers want to get rid of this warehouse tradition entirely because it’s disruptive to normal warehouse processes and dreaded by every warehouse employee.

In fact, many customers report a mysterious flu epidemic when the time comes for the annual inventory. With Latitude’s Cycle Count Planning Module, you can set items that you want to count on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. The module will assign workers to do a few counts per day and keep you on track. A number of our customers have eliminated the annual physical inventory entirely with no loss in inventory accuracy, and a definite improvement in worker moral.

I hope that some of this information can help improve productivity in your warehouse. For more tips, tricks and Latitude hacks, come see us in person at the Latitude User Conference next week, May 22-24! It’s not too late to register!

If you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, please let us know. You can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

 

Latitude Tips and Tricks for Picking

Latitude WMS is full of useful features designed to make warehouse tasks or functions easier and more efficient, and we’re constantly adding new functionality based on customer feedback. We want you, our customers, to get the most out of Latitude, so over the next several weeks we’ll explain some of the many tips, tricks, and little-known capabilities in Latitude to help anyone become a power-user. Let’s start with picking.

Inventory Control Cones

Many warehouses need to store materials in a temporary location, whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks during busy periods. Putting labels on pallets sometimes helps, but they can often be hard to locate physically and in the system – load labels can be easily damaged and you’ll be lucky if anyone can remember which pallet is number “09657.” Instead, buy some brightly colored cones and set them up as temporary bin locations or “Loads” in Latitude (loads do not have to be scanned during a physical inventory, and some customers find it simpler to use them for short-term use). You can set the bin numbers to something specific, for example: G + a number for green cones, R + number for red cones, etc.). Print labels for them (the 4” x 6” format works best) and train your employees to use the cones instead of bins. Most customers find that the cones are much easier to locate than pallets because they’re simple to set up and remove.

Multiple Label Printers

Did you know that Latitude WMS allows you to set a secondary printer for certain types of labels, or set a dedicated label printer for a specific label format? This prevents cross-functional Latitude users from needing to switch label printers as they do different tasks.

Here’s how:

  • To set up a secondary printer from an RF terminal, press F3 – Setup – Printers, choose Label-Secondary and select your secondary printer. Carton Contents and Inventory Contents are the only formats currently supported.
  • To set Label Printer assignment, go to Administration – System Configuration – Label Printer Assignment in Latitude Web and add the Label Format and the Label Printer name. That type of label will now always print from the selected printer.

Toggling the Pickable Inventory Flag

Latitude allows users to toggle inventory’s pickable status via the RF terminal. This lets you easily update inventory status on the fly, such as when you need to pick from an overstock bin that is usually not pickable.

  • To do this, press F3 – Inventory – Adjustments – Toggle Pickable on your RF terminal. You’ll be prompted for the bin, the item and the lot/serials, if applicable. Enter them and the item will now be pickable. If it was already pickable, you’ll get an error.
  • You can also set up a prompt to toggle this automatically when you perform a Move, Unload or Putaway transaction. Go into “Prompt for Pickable Override upon Unload and Putaway” in Latitude Web and set to “Y”.

If you like what you just read, be sure and stay tuned for more Latitude WMS tips and tricks, as this is just one article of a five-part series.

For more tips, tricks and Latitude hacks, come see us in person at the Latitude User Conference on May 22-24.

If you have questions about any of these tips, please contact our Support Team at 888-627-9797. We’re here to help!

 

Phased Rollout Helps Smooth the Transition to Latitude WMS for Jensen Distribution Services

Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale hardware distributor operating in 11 western states, came to PathGuide in 2008 with a very specific set of goals. The company was strong in areas like picking, but needed to improve warehouse processes in receiving, order accuracy and training time for new employees. They needed a WMS that would improve trouble spots without interfering with productivity in other areas of the facility. The PathGuide implementation team, always ready for a challenge, got to work.

Latitude WMS was rolled out in stages, starting with receiving. This approach is common for new WMS deployments, and it allowed Jensen to adjust to each change without affecting other workflows. Implementation went forward on schedule and Jensen quickly began to see positive results in receiving speeds, organization and accuracy. Employee productivity increased and could now be tracked paper-free, using Latitude’s built-in employee metrics. As Jensen switched on Latitude’s functionality in other areas of its warehouse, it started seeing even more benefits.

Errors Dropped 95%

Jensen doesn’t offer unique products, so they compete for customers by offering exceptional customer service. Latitude helped Jensen go from a one percent error rate to 0.05 percent, which had a tremendous positive impact on customer relations. Regular updates to Latitude provide incremental improvements in accuracy each year.

Less Time Wasted on Training

Latitude also reduced the time required to train new employees and decreased their reliance on tribal knowledge. Under the old paper-based receiving system, it took new employees three to six weeks to become proficient and productive. With Latitude, it takes just days, prompting Jensen’s distribution center manager, Dennis Schutz, to say that he “never wanted to go back to paper.”

The phased rollout worked. Jensen saw great improvements in all of the areas where it wanted to improve, without significant disruption to the rest of the warehouse. In the words of Landon Horton, director of operations, “Latitude has really let us refine our business through major productivity and accuracy gains over the years. The exceptional customer service and engineering support offered by PathGuide made them an ideal technology partner, and we have total faith in their commitment to the long-term success of our business.”

Click here to see a short video highlighting the transformation to virtually error-free operations at Jensen Distribution Services.

Dr.’s Gerry Faust and David Allais to Keynote PathGuide’s 2016 Latitude User Conference

It is my great pleasure to announce that Gerry Faust, Ph.D. and David Allais, Ph.D. will deliver the two keynote addresses at the 2016 Latitude User Conference in May.

Faust is a highly accomplished business consultant and motivational speaker who has been empowering and entertaining audiences for 30 years. His speeches help people understand the power and challenges of an organization’s culture, identify its key aspects and understand the role each person plays in its formation. He is hilariously funny, extremely smart, and his speeches deliver real business value. Past clients have said that Faust “provides stimulating ideas with practical approaches,” is a “consummate presenter,” and a “guy who truly cares about helping businesses succeed.”

His program will explain the true purpose for organizations and outline the four roles that managers and leaders must embrace to achieve short and long term success. In a presentation tailored to the needs of the warehouse and distribution industries, Gerry Faust will discuss the biggest reason why more organizations never solve their problems, and the key role teamwork plays in achieving organizational goals.

Allais is an internationally recognized expert and inventor in the fields of bar coding, automatic identification and data capture. As former president and CEO of Washington-based Intermec, Inc. (now part of Honeywell), he built the company from a small start-up into the leading manufacturer of bar code scanning and printing equipment. Leaving Intermec after 19 years, Allais founded PathGuide Technologies, a Washington-based developer of warehouse management systems for distributors.

PathGuide is thrilled to have Faust and Allais as our keynote speakers. Mark your calendars for May 22-24, this is one conference you won’t want to miss!

Faust’s keynote is scheduled Monday, May 23 at 8:45 a.m. and Allais’s keynote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 8:30 a.m.

Six Implementation Questions Customers Always Ask

Purchasing a WMS is a business investment that PathGuide customers take very seriously. Any warehouse upgrade involves a number of necessary changes to work processes, and a WMS is no exception. Customers can sometimes become intimidated if they get too caught up worrying about the implementation and assuming that these changes will be difficult.

But that’s simply not the case. With the proper training and staff buy-in, a WMS install doesn’t need to be an arduous process. To address some of the most common concerns, here is a list of popular questions from new WMS customers, and how we answer them:

  • How long is this going to take? It can take anywhere from four to nine months, depending on the warehouse’s specifics and how well the company has prepared for a rollout. An internal champion who works closely with us for troubleshooting and scheduled employee training can help a new customer go live much more quickly.
  • How will Latitude interface with our business system? Will we have to change anything? Probably not. Latitude integrates with all major ERP systems including SAP, Oracle, Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, and Infor.
  • How do we set up a RF network in our warehouse? How many access points will we need? What about better servers or higher network speeds? A PathGuide engineer will visit a new customer’s warehouse and do a complete walkthrough to determine exactly how the customer operates and what its needs are. They will handle technical problems like this.
  • How does training take place? We usually bring customer representatives to our Seattle office and let them practice with Latitude in our mock “warehouse” training room. We’ll also send PathGuide engineers to conduct on-site trainings, and we encourage customers to follow up with their own hands-on training.
  • Can we get Latitude to do _______? The answer is almost always yes. Latitude is highly customizable and we can usually modify it to fit the customer’s exact needs.
  • Can we get documentation or checklists for all of this? Of course! We want to make the tools in Latitude WMS as easy to use and accessible as possible.

Implementation can seem intimidating if you look at it in its entirety, but it isn’t as difficult as most people believe at first. That’s why it’s our job to break the process down into manageable chunks and help our customers get through the implementation one step at a time. This personal touch helps our customers feels more secure and leads to a smoother rollout – and that’s better for everyone.

How long does it take to learn a warehousing management?

Intermec RF bar code scanner

Intermec RF scanner

Any warehousing management system involves new hardware and software, which can initially scare some warehouse employees. RF terminals (bar code scanners), for instance, while easy to use, can involve input skills that feel foreign to warehouse employees who aren’t familiar with texting. Incidentally, this is why some young adults are very adept at using bar code scanners/RF terminals – it’s more or less like using their own smartphone, just a bit heavier.

Are you worried that your warehouse employees will be slow to learn a new warehousing management system? When choosing a warehousing management solution, take the following training concepts under consideration:

  • A well-designed warehousing management system (WMS) has an intuitive interface that will seem familiar to anyone who is capable of surfing the web, which should be most people who work in warehousing jobs. It will be easily navigable, and simple to pick up. It should be accompanied by a web-accessible online help system and/or print documentation. User-centric design automatically reduces training time and costs.
  • Some warehouses have a high turnover rate, because local warehouse jobs are easy to find. If your warehouse employees flee to new jobs frequently, you’ll benefit from a good warehousing management system that automates manual processes. Drastically reducing training time for new employees ensures that you can easily grow your labor force as your business expands.
  • Warehousing solution training needs to use proven teaching methodologies to instruct, inform, and assure end users of the viability and advantages of the new system. A smart WMS vendor has a proven track record of getting new users up-to-speed in under a week.
  • Good warehousing managers will designate several system experts from their current warehouse employees who receive advanced training and can be counted on to help new and uncertain users become accustomed to the system. These should be employees who have settled into warehouse careers and are natural managers.
  • In-depth training must be provided as a part of any warehousing management implementation, and any go-live should include round-the-clock support from your WMS solution provider.

Learn how a warehousing management solution like Latitude WMS can easily make your warehouse run better. Call PathGuide today. 1.888.627.9797.