Companies are doubly challenged in today’s tight labor market to find talent while keeping control over labor costs – and warehouse shipping operations are no exception.
Labor generally makes up 60–65% of the total cost of warehouse fulfillment (not including carrier shipping costs).
A significant portion of warehouse labor is dedicated to picking, packing, and shipping processes. Medium to large operations typically have multiple employees tasked with packing orders into boxes, putting an order license plate on the boxes, and then forwarding them to another shipping area to print and apply shipping labels – all of which can be labor-intensive.
In addition, warehouse staff turnover is often a constant issue, making it tough to staff your warehouse to meet daily order fulfillment demand fully.
One way to address this challenge is through technology - streamline your process with Blackbox automation and have it interface directly with your WMS, ERP or home grown system.
Blackbox shipping software automation involves direct communication between your host system (WMS, ERP, etc.) and your shipping system without the need for a standard shipping screen.
Steps that have been traditionally triggered by workers keying or scanning barcode data into a shipping screen are now fully automated and require no employee interaction.
When the host system makes a shipment “call” or processing request, the shipping software determines shipping decisions according to your business rules, customer preferences, carrier service and shipping rate options, and various label and document requirements. Then, the shipping software feeds the necessary shipping information directly back to the host.
Blackbox shipping allows for many speed advantages. The typical shipping process consists of picking, packing, shipping, and loading. The Blackbox process skips and/or combines processes. By reducing steps, we reduce labor time and therefore reduce labor costs.
The automation of connecting your host system (WMS, ERP, etc.) to interface directly with the shipping system speeds up shipment processing and reduces human error.
Since you will be eliminating the need for separate packing and shipping workstations, you will need fewer workstations, freeing up valuable warehouse space.
Packing and shipping tasks can now be handled at a combined pack/ship station, with one worker using a WMS screen to manage both the packing and the shipping tasks.
All packing documents, carrier shipping labels, and other forms are printed at the pack station, applied by the packer, and the order is ready to be handed over to the carrier.
The packer still packs the box and applies the shipping label, but just about everything else is handled application to application, far faster than any human could. The total time required to pack, confirm, and ship an order is reduced to a few seconds.
By taking this approach to shipping, many of our clients can free up staff to work in other warehouse areas and significantly reduce the need and the cost of hiring temporary staff.
One of our clients, Restaurant Equippers, implemented Blackbox Shipping and combined pack/ship stations and was able to:
Blackbox interfaces can apply to several different areas of a warehouse, based on need, including pre-label and release, pre-manifesting, in-motion processes scan/print and apply, and many others. It can also be configured to provide shipping rates from top carriers to e-commerce customer shopping carts in real-time. With its integrative capabilities, Blackbox Shipping automation dramatically improves efficiency, reduces labor costs and carrier costs, and dramatically reduces errors.
If you are unfamiliar with Blackbox Shipping automation, your current shipping system may be costing you a great deal of money. Blackbox shipping offers the advantage of increased productivity and efficiency because it streamlines your shipping operation by taking redundant tasks and automating them.
Creative Logistics Solutions has implemented Blackbox Shipping automation with our multi-carrier shipping software platform, InfoShip®/Vx, interfaced to a wide range of ERP and WMS systems.
How can we help? CLS has the industry, carrier expertise, and the parcel shipping software platform to help you address peak season carrier capacity challenges. Our team of shipping experts can help you weigh your options in considering zone or hub skipping, or other shipping methods to ensure that your shipments are delivered. Our enterprise-level multi-carrier shipping software, InfoShip/Vx, is connected to an extensive Carrier Library of postal, regional, small parcel and LTL carriers, which may be helpful to you.