Warehouse Stuck in the Neolithic Age? 4 Ways to Automate Your Facility

When it comes to the warehouse industry, the future is automation. This involves several components that all work together in order to get the task done. Here are some of the ways that you can automate your facility and bring it into the next century. 

Cartonization 

Through the use of technology, you can save some money on your shipping costs by employing cartonization methods. This is where the size and number of boxes are calculated in the most efficient manner possible to get the order out the door. Automation has made this task a little bit easier because your employees don’t have to spend time trying to get all of your customer orders packaged into boxes safely for shipment. 

Robotic Technology 

Another advantage when it comes to automation is through the use of robots.There are any number of robotic technologies that can used across a variety of different types of manufacturing fields. For example, robotic arms can be used to remove and stock whole pallets or individual items on a shelving system in your warehouse. This may eliminate some of the concerns that are more prevalent when it comes to workplace injuries that could occur. 

Automatic Pallet Wrapping 

It may take two employees for you to be able wrap up your pallets for shipping without the use of technology. Automatic pallet wrapping systems are available for you to purchase from companies like Fox Packaging Services. The point of many these machines is that your employees only need to position the pallet and then push a button in order to have it done in the most efficient manner possible. This will prevent the loss of products during the shipping process. 

Automated Labeling Systems 

Labeling all of your products can be a tedious process. It can also lead to mistakes if you have a person completing this task. Using an automated printing and label applying machine ensures that the label is done correctly and applied in the correct location all of the time. It allows your employees to focus on the more important tasks when it comes to running your warehouse. More quality control steps can be taken to ensure that your products are the best on the market. 

There are advantages when it comes to the use of technology in manufacturing and warehouses. More automation often leads to higher-skilled labor who can work to refine the process further. Consider these reasons when it comes to the benefits of upgrading your facility.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

4 Ways Businesses Benefit From Outsourcing Services

In the past, small to medium-sized businesses had a much harder time competing with the ‘big boys’ industries  due to a lack of adequate infrastructure within their organizations. However, thanks to the most recent technological breakthroughs, this is no longer the case, as small businesses all around the world are given a more level playing field by outsourcing their non-core processes elsewhere. As such, these non-core processes can include anything ranging from marketing and design to IT support. Moreover, with the use of new cloud and project-management software, outsourcing these processes has never been simpler. Yet, how exactly do small businesses benefit from this lucrative arrangement? Keep on reading to find out.

Lower operating costs

Hiring new staff to take care of your in-house marketing and IT sectors is a huge investment for small business owners. According to the Training magazine, on average, companies spend around 1,000 US dollars per learner, and this does not account for the time and effort it takes to post job ads, review CVs, and interview potential employees. Also, the more workers you employ, the more money you have to spend on equipment, office space, workers compensation, and taxes. Hence, the most logical solution for small businesses is to go lean, in order to maximize efficiency and lower the cost of operating.

Outsourcing services helps small businesses do just that, as the cost of hiring another company to, for example, manage your company’s marketing efforts is much lower than doing it yourself. With larger corporations, it’s a totally different story, as they can handle their own in-house marketing sectors due to having a lot more resources at their disposal. This is why, by outsourcing, smaller companies can be at an equal footing with the big corporate giants, as it allows them to enlist the help of professional marketers at a much lower cost. 

Access to the latest technology

Another reason why outsourcing is so beneficial for small businesses is the fact that outsourcing companies bring their own equipment and technology into the fold. A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the legal industry, where Artificial Intelligence is seeing an increase in use. Especially so in the process of legal transcription, where sophisticated AI plays a crucial role in transferring raw video and audio data into a more accurate, readable format. Without this, legal firms would struggle to process vital materials in time for the next proceeding. By using this kind of human-aided AI services and technology, businesses save precious time and increase efficiency.

Increased focus on core business processes

The thing with some small businesses, and startups in general, is that they usually operate on a much tighter deadline and do so with a skeleton crew. By outsourcing all of their repetitive and time-consuming back office tasks, such as sales, marketing, and IT support, small businesses get to focus all of their attention on core-business functions, which greatly improves their overall efficiency and productivity. Thus, the key staff gets to work on improving critical business areas instead of wasting their time dilly-dallying with computer updates and composing new marketing strategies. Furthermore, apart from lowering the cost of re-training the existing employees to accept new roles, focusing on key business elements helps small businesses cultivate talent, which is crucial for staying ahead of the curve and gaining a real advantage over your competitors.

Acquire the assistance of business experts

Training your own staff members to perform non-core functions won’t yield immediate results. In fact, this approach will lead to many trials and errors before they finally get the hang of it. Moreover, some of these tasks take weeks, if not months, to learn, which is time better spent elsewhere.

Hence, it’s a good idea to employ the services of a company which is an expert in that field. This will not only bring in more results, but do so at a much faster pace. Plus, you get some real, concrete, advice from people who know exactly what they’re doing. Also, by outsourcing you’re actually opening the door of your business to global talent and not just settling for second-best in your immediate vicinity. At the end of the day, you get to pay for quality services which would otherwise be too costly on your own.

All in all, outsourcing services is a great way for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition by funneling priceless manpower and resources into development and growth instead of wasting it on irrelevant back office tasks.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

7 Foolproof Agility Factors That Accelerate Growth

Having a plan to help speed up your business operations and improve the overall functionality of your business is vital to getting a sizeable amount of growth and allowing a business to not only succeed but to also become the leader in your particular industry. You can always consider financing options like the business factoring, credit line financing etc. from trusted loan providers for a smooth business cash flow, but sticking to the predefined budget always helps. So what are some of the things that you need to consider when it comes to increasing speed and becoming more and more productive?

The following are some of the tips that the industry leaders use in their operations to become better at what they do.

Learn the Word No and Use it on a Regular Basis

It is okay for you to say no and to do so on a regular basis. Many people think that the word no is an evil word and that if they tell someone no that there will be some sort of fallout from it. The simple truth is that it is okay for you to not always feel like you have to say yes when you are asked to do something. Just because someone comes up with a particular idea does not mean you have to go with it. Learn to trust your gut a lot more and you will be just fine.

Set a goal that is your #1 goal

It is vital that you have a goal that is your biggest point. Too often a person will feel that they have to give equal attention to all of their goals. This is not the case, it is acceptable for you to simply find one goal and let that be the centre of your main focus. This will help you to not find yourself wandering all over the board with a variety of ideas. This allows you to stay focused on one single idea and avoids you taking away your focus for other ideas and projects. It may take a little time for you to look at all of the goals that you have, but you will need to narrow these down to a single one.

Don’t hesitate to become a partnership expert

If you feel that there is no real advantage to this, then simply look at Google and where they are as compared to where they were in 2005. This has come from the fact that they are willing to partner with other companies. The same can be said when talking about Amazon. These are companies that showed a willingness for them to partner with other companies to help and better their standing as well as help them to become more of a household name. the more partnerships that you build, then the stronger of a bond you will have in the business world. Taking a chance and building a partnership will go a long way in helping you to be in a better position with your business.

Take the time to create prototypes

It will be tempting to want to just get a product out to the public. This needs to be avoided and you need to make sure that you take the time to create test products that will allow any flaws to be seen before you send the final product out for people to buy. This is generally a great time for all of the bugs to be worked out and help you and your testers to see where some improvements can be made with your product. This may take a little more time for you to get things out to the public, but in the end, it will lead to you not having to send things back to the drawing board to fix any issues that were not discovered due to a lack of a test product.

Eliminate the budget from last year

Many people think that if they simply use the same budget that they had the previous year that everything will work out perfectly. That is a thought that needs to be left in the past as companies have budgets that swell and shrink based on their particular needs. If you are simply trying to use the budget from last year, you may discover that you are not able to get the same level of results as you had hoped. Understand that what worked last year may not be as valuable in the next year. You may even get to the point that you discover that you don’t need nearly as much as you did last year and can roll the savings over into another project or the next year’s budget.

End the use of a three-year plan

Planning is a good thing, but you need to also look at the fact that these three-year plans are not nearly as useful as they once were. Plans change and if you8 are locked on a three-year plan, then you will discover that this plan of action will not allow for you to make any concessions and your plans will be up in smoke before you even were able to get them going. A quarter by a quarter plan is a lot more effective and tends to have a lot better results.

Focus more on speed than you do costs

Those that look at the speed of their business as opposed to the costs will see that there is a big difference and this will generally lead to there being a small advantage to them being fast as opposed to cost mindful. There will be a lot of room for you to adapt and adjust this mindset if it is not working as well as you had hoped.

All of these ideas and tips are able to make a huge difference. No matter if you use just one of these or adopt all of them, you will see a drastic change in your business and see for yourself that the more effective you are, then the faster that you will be and the bigger growth you will experience.

A Brief Guide on Evolving From Startup to SME

Startups are constantly under pressure to keep their head above water and ensure that they can stay relevant. It doesn’t take much for a larger company to bully a startup out of existence, and there’s nothing worse than a slow and painful company death that not only wastes money but also time.

So to keep your business successful, we’re going to help you by offering a brief guide on how to evolve your startup into an SME with minimal stress and maximum efficiency.

Fail Faster?

Failing faster is a mantra that entrepreneurs swear by, but as with any controversial statement that is misunderstood, it’s often over exaggerated. Failing faster doesn’t mean to quite literally fail faster, and it also doesn’t mean that you should give up your business and run it into the ground just for the sake of failing. Some people assume it means pushing boundaries to see how far you can go with an idea, but the reality is that you can’t exactly use that as a method of failing faster.

Failing faster is another way of saying “learn faster”. You learn through failures because you figure out what you did wrong and how to fix it. The idea of failing faster is so that you can understand what mistakes you made so you can correct them the next time around, and this is a key of evolving from a startup to an SME. You need to realize what you’ve done poorly and how you can improve your next project.

In short, you need to fail in order to grow your business, but it takes a lot of time until you’ve built up the necessary knowledge to learn efficiently from your mistakes. Many people consider failing faster to be a ridiculous way to learn and progress, but in reality, it’s one of the fastest ways to improve your company and your practices as long as you’re consistent and mindful.

Recognizing When You Need Help

Another common issue with startups is that they’re typically very stubborn. Many companies refuse to rely on outside help, believing it to be too expensive, or saying that their employees won’t learn much if they rely too much on outside help. However, outsourced IT support, outsourcing repairs and other services can be incredibly important to the productivity and efficiency of any business.

It’s important to realize that you can’t go alone, even as an entrepreneur with a small startup. Services need to be relied on if you want the best from your business and to actually make a profit while also growing your business. Be it community management, social media assistance, computer repairs or technological advice, make sure you outsource any services that you’re unfamiliar with or don’t have much experience with.

Final Words

Growing a business from a mere startup is a challenging task, but with the right mindset, it’s possible to make great strides and surge into the industry. Evolving into an SME is no easy task, and it comes with many unique challenges that are bound to trip you up. However, by recognizing when you need help, it’s entirely possible to overcome those problems.

Steps to Choosing an Outsourcing Partner

When you run a business, there are so many different specific areas which you need to concentrate on that it can be difficult to keep up. And you only have so many hours in the day. One possible solution is to hire staff members, but this can end up getting particularly expensive. The other main step which companies take is to outsource to a firm that specializes in a particular field. However, it is not always easy to choose the right partner who is going to fulfill the needs of your company. So, here is a bit of guidance on choosing one.

Choose the Most Pressing Areas

The first areas which you need to consider outsourcing are the ones which are most pressing to your business. Perhaps you are nor properly in control of your finances and need an accountant to sort out the situation for you. Maybe you desperately need a marketing campaign to generate increased awareness of your company. Otherwise, it could be that you need something highly specialized such as https://www.consultingradiologists.com/teleradiology-services/. Ultimately, the choice is yours and it is not something which anyone else can decide for you.

Check Experience Levels

Now that you have decided on the specific areas which you would like to outsource, the time has come to check the experience levels of the vendor. Some of the measures that you can use include a number of projects successfully completed, types of clients, and measurable statistics. You can also check the experience levels of everyone on the team who will be working with your business.

Ask for References and Work Samples

Just like you would if you were conducting interviews for possible staff members, you should ask for references and samples of their work. Of course, you may have to respect the confidentiality of the clients which they have worked with, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t give you an overview of what they have done and the results that they have achieved in the past.

Establish Good Communication Channels

One of the most important aspects of working with partner organisations is the communication. For example, how readily available is the company for support? Do they operate in the same time zone as you? What are the preferred methods of communication? Do you have a single point of contact which you will be going through? These are all questions which are worth clarifying before you go any further down this path.

Assess Financial Stability

Obviously, you want to be working with a company which has a decent level of financial stability. When a complete business function is being outsourced, it makes sense that the vendor provides you with some assurances that they are going to be able to continue offering you the services that they had promised.

Choosing outsourcing partners is a task which should be completed with the same level of scrutiny as selecting members of staff to work at your business.

Workflow Management is the Key to Success – Know How

Introduction

Other than the most distinct signs of failure, businesses often find it hard to identify the hang-ups of their workflows. However, developing a clear understanding of a productive workflow can assist your entire organization to gain from its benefits. Business experts reveal that an estimated 52% of enterprises hardly assess the effectiveness of their business processes. What’s more, at least 59% of the businesses lack the plan of analyzing, designing or managing the business processes. You can use the principles of workflow management to understand and manage the business processes of your company. This will provide you with the secret to longevity. It is common knowledge among business experts that workflow management will determine whether your company will succeed or fail.

Workflow Management Definition

Simply put, workflow describes the plan that assists you to get from one point to the other. Using the road trip analogy, the workflow is the plan that informs you of your destination, the requirements for the trip, the detours you should make along the way, where you should stop to refuel, the persons to call in case of an emergency and the expected time of arrival.

Therefore workflow management refers to the processes used by your business to attain its goals strategically. Its primary function is to outline the tasks, staff and the resources that are required for achieving the outcome repeatedly. It is essential to different workflow management from project management since the latter deals with the activities of a single project. You need a workflow management plan for your business since, without it, the complicated projects that are assigned would overwhelm you. This would result in stress, disorganization, and low-quality outputs.

Difference with Business Process Management

Although workflow management is often used interchangeably with business process management, the two have distinct differences. The focus of BPM is to improve the complete set of business processes in your company with the objective of increasing the efficiency of your organization. This includes the documentation and the analysis processes to establish the factors that slow the processes or other causes of disorganization. Although the concepts are similar in the sense that they both try to enhance the efficiency of your business processes, each concept has its unique applications. Workflow management ensures that the daily goals of your company are accomplished and integrates into the BPM process to ensure the smooth running of your organization.

Strengths of Workflow Management

Workflow management will provide you with fast and practical solutions to the business problems before they occur. The plan should assist you to establish the specific person who was assigned a particular task and the steps to take when the need arises. It will also help you to know the other personnel who need to be notified, and the consequences of not taking action. One of the strengths of workflow management is the reduced manual efforts and the automation of the tedious physical tasks. This enables you to save time and energy for all the stakeholders.

An optimized workflow management plan will assist you to differentiate between the necessary and unnecessary steps. Once the unnecessary steps have been identified, they could be removed to reduce the slowdowns. It will also ensure that you have assigned the tasks to the most qualified person to get high-quality work. With the workflow, your management team will be able to focus on the more important business activities without always worrying about the deadlines. A workflow management plan will enable you to develop a chronological order of executing tasks and automate some of the decisions and the processes that would be carried out by the staff. Other strengths include reducing the amount of paperwork and communication burdens, while at the same time fostering department collaboration. Finally, workflow management ensures that you can track progress and analyze the performance, and ensures that you have the records used for previous processes. This will get rid of decision fatigue.

Importance to Your Business

Research indicates that most businesses have existing workflow problems that are often ignored and unnoticed. Some of the explanations for this include ignorance since the managers are not aware of the better approach or insisting on the traditional way of doing things. Below we describe the importance of workflow management for your business.

Reducing Risks

All business tasks and processes including the simple and complex ones are susceptible to human error. This fact remains unchanged even when using the most advanced workers. However, the workflow management plan can significantly reduce these risks. The method achieves this objective by getting rid of the unnecessary steps in your business process and ensuring that all the activities are performed consistently. The plan ensures that the staffs are aware of their responsibilities throughout the production process and adhere to the same set of rules. This guarantees you of the delivery of the same results and results in fewer errors and disputes.

Streamlined Processes

Having effective workflow management strategies will enable you to create order out of chaos. In this context, chaos refers to the components within the workflow that slow it down.

Predefined Rules

Your employees would prefer to work with rules since they provide structure as well as clarity. Having rules ensures that all the employees are aware of their duties and responsibilities. Having an effective workflow would implement these rules automatically. The employees will follow the order that has the appropriate checkpoints to ensure that all the processes are in order. It provides quick answers to questions concerning the pending activities, their deadlines and the results which get rid of guesswork and enhances the confidence of your entire workforce.

Access to Information

Workflow management will enable you to improve the transfer of information within the organization. The improvements that are made with workflow management will increase the accessibility of this information. What’s more, it will ensure that the staff have easy access to the relevant information and review the processes at the correct checkpoints. It will also enable the managers to oversee all the business activities.

Productivity

The primary objective of workflow management is to assist your business in producing better outcomes. The plan will help your managers to stay updated on the processes in the company, and provide insights regarding your costly practices. It will also suggest the methods and practices that need to be automated while at the same time producing results which can be measured to establish how successful the organization has been. The plan will also ensure that your business remains focused on the critical activities including customer service, and enhancing the core products and services. This prevents you from wasting time trying to micromanage your staff.

Conclusion

Having a workflow management plan will foster positive workflow by simplifying your business processes, reducing the redundancies and errors and at the same time assist your staff in completing their tasks in a quick and efficient manner. In case you notice some bottlenecks in your business operations and activities which are accompanied by consistent setbacks, you probably have a poor workflow. As soon as you identify this occurrence, you should begin developing a more effective workflow management plan.

Tips for Succeeding in Today’s Manufacturing Industry

More products are being made in the US than ever before. But for good or ill, one of the reasons that labor jobs are drying up is because less people are required in production. In some cases such as sales, adding more people means more revenue. But for manufacturing itself, there are better ways to handle growth. Whether you’re a small entrepreneur with one product or a large enterprise with many, here are some tips to be successful in manufacturing.

Lean Manufacturing

This is a concept that originated with Toyota and was adapted by many other businesses around the world. It’s about finding wasted material, money, manpower, time, and movement, and reorganizing your processes so that this waste is minimized. That gives you lower costs, faster results, and higher productivity. But to be truly “lean” requires that cutting back waste be a constant goal. You should always seek to streamline your manufacturing processes in some way. Continuous improvement will help you stay competitive.

Machinery

Investment in better equipment and machinery is important. As you company grows in sales and volumes, distributors or customers will still expect fast turn-around times and high quality. Growth also leads to a need for higher production capacities. Machines that can do more and do it precisely are important to support your profitability. One of the most vital technologies that you can integrate is automation. Machines that can perform faster, longer, and more consistently than even the most skilled labor are important assets in maximizing performance.

Budgeting

Expanding your business requires cash. At times you may be able to find funds for major investments from investors, borrowing against invoices, stock offerings, and in the digital era, crowdfunding. But none of these should replace drawing up a budget that will cover your expenses and still leave a portion of income for reinvestment into business development projects, whether it’s refitting your warehouse or launching a bold new marketing campaign. Preferably, your growth should flow from your profits, not from outside funding that has downsides such as interest rates or giving away a share of the company.

Innovation

Even if you have a patent on a brilliant new product, you can’t count on it driving your revenue forever. With the competition out there new, it may become obsolete overnight through advances made by your competitors. Whether you’re making coat hangers or Hydro Construction Products, be a leader by fostering a company culture of innovation. Frequently introducing new features and methods does involve a bit of a gamble, but if you aren’t looking to excite buyers and drive future sales, there’s a greater risk of becoming obsolete.

As a manufacturer, you should focus on becoming a specialist within your industry. Work hard at perfecting your products and your processes, and the gains will keep coming.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.