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For warehouses of all stripes, “traceability” is an important term to know.

Traceability refers to the journey of an item or a part as it travels through the warehouse, and how every step of its movement is tracked. While it can take many forms, one of the most common is in-house traceability. This is the traceability of a given item or part through the warehouse, from its intake to the day it’s shipped out to a store or customer.

Particularly in these days of rapid ecommerce fulfillment, traceability is crucial for keeping inventory accurate, as well as ensuring a smooth movement of products throughout the warehouse before it arrives at its final destination.

Setting your warehouse up for traceability isn’t a difficult task, although it involves the coordination of different teams, as well as some planning when it comes to warehouse layout.

 

Establishing Traceability In Your Warehouse

 

Keep all information visible: One of the biggest factors when establishing traceability is to make sure that all relevant product data is kept visible, safe, and easily accessible across all of your warehouse storage. The use of shelving label holders will be crucial for this, as barcodes, RFIDs, and the like are essential to establish traceability and keep product data up-to-date and accurate. Make sure each of your team members are trained on when – and how – to scan these barcodes as items move through the warehouse.

 

Start at the beginning: The easiest way to implement traceability is to start at the source, when the items first arrive at the warehouse. At the packing stations in your shipping-receiving area, make sure to give your team the ability to print, create, or otherwise locate the barcodes you will be using to trace the items as they move.

 

Tag your locations appropriately: This step will vary depending on the layout and function of your current warehouse, but it remains important all the same. Devise a system where the shelves you use for everyday storage, such as pallet racking and industrial metal shelving, are all tagged in a way that makes sense to your team to keep products flowing and traceable.

 

Make the process transparent: Finally, all this information isn’t going to do your warehouse a bit of good without the ability to use and display it. Send your traceability information to your WMS to ensure that your entire team can both access it, and use it to answer any questions your customers may have about where their items are. (You may also consider making the information available to your customers in order to resolve tracking concerns on a case-by-case basis, but this will require you to still keep any more sensitive information private.)

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