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Improve Inbound Handling Efficiency with Automated Solutions

Efficient inbound handling processes are the root of effective material handling within a facility. And these processes begin even before a delivery gets to the dock door. Ensuring that the area is properly laid out, that employees are knowledgeable and will know what to do with different shipments from different carriers, and that deliveries are properly scheduled for a consistent, manageable workflow are all key to inbound handling.

As goods are received, facilities should look to minimize the number of touches on each item by using flex space, cross docking, and automating as many processes as possible. Employees can be made more efficient by having printers, labelers, and other equipment on moveable carts, and computer interfaces can be made wearable. A robust warehouse management system (WMS) can aid delivery planning with advanced shipping notifications and can inform operators of what goods can be replenished without staging.

At PeakLogix, we’re a brand agnostic material handling systems integrator that specializes in innovative, bespoke automated solutions. Through our partnership, we can increase the consistency and efficiency throughout your distribution processes, from inbound receiving to outbound shipments and everything in between. We deliver customized solutions tailored to our partner’s needs that address issues ranging from ergonomics and employee safety to fully automated warehousing solutions.

Current challenges of inbound handling

Effectively cross docking shipments

Effective cross docking practices increase warehouse and distribution efficiency, and enable the fulfillment speeds that many ecommerce consumers expect. Cross docking moves inbound goods directly to delivery trucks with minimal touches and maximal speed. Traditionally done with pallets moving from rail or cargo containers and onto a smaller truck, with today’s technology integrated cross-docking networks enable the efficient cross docking of less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments.

Cross docking speeds order fulfillment times, minimizes damages, and lowers costs. It’s best used for perishables that need fast delivery, fast-moving products that have predictable demand, and goods that don’t need to be (or have already been) quality checked, picked, and packed.

Inbound inventory accuracy

Inventory accuracy is paramount to nearly all of material handling. At the extremes, inaccurate counts can mean that a product is out of stock when it shouldn’t be, or that a warehouse is bloated with obsolete goods. And inventory accuracy begins with inbound freight.

Product traceability is a key component of modern material handling, and should begin with inbound handling. Something as simple as handheld barcode scanners and labelers can ensure that goods coming into your facility can be properly traced throughout your processes, and can be an entry point into automating later processes.

Building efficiencies into processes

In essence, a receiving department is a microcosm of the warehouse. Goods come in, are unloaded, inspected, sorted, and sent out of the department for putaway. As with any other area of a facility, efficiencies have to be baked into these processes. The department needs adequate space, and tasks should be simplified as much as possible.

Inbound handling departments often suffer from a lack of information. They often don’t know when a delivery will arrive, what it will contain, and how much it was supposed to cost. This often leads to a second or even third delivery coming while the first is still being sorted.

Once a shipment is received, employees have to know what to do with damages, where goods go in the facility, and whether or not there’s room for the goods to be replenished right away or if they need to be staged.

Simplifying and automating as many of these processes as possible increases both efficiency and accuracy.

Available space/effective storage solutions

Facilities are built to maximize their ROI. For successful companies, this can mean they outgrow their available storage space in a matter of years or even months. In a busy warehouse, an idle receiving department is often seen as empty space that can be filled with pallets and shelves.

However, to operate effectively, receiving departments often need multiple forklifts running at the same time. They need the room to operate, maneuver, and stage goods momentarily while they are sorted, counted, and checked for damages. And they need flex space for staging and cross docking items.

Updating or upgrading storage solutions to maximize the use of a warehouse’s cubic space — including the space in the receiving department — is sometimes a necessary step to increase a warehouse’s efficiency.

High labor costs

Even before COVID-19, labor scarcity was an issue in every industry. Low unemployment, high rates of retirement, demands for higher wages, and a perception that jobs in warehousing and distribution aren’t viable long-term careers are all issues for material handling companies.

To combat labor shortages and increased costs, many companies are looking to lean practices and automation to streamline their processes and retain high quality employees. Something as simple as reducing the number of steps an employee takes on hard concrete floors can lower their chance for overuse injuries and can improve their quality of life. And this can be done easily and at little cost with wearable technology or handheld devices placed in a cart that the employee can move where it’s needed.

Surges in deliveries

The problem of inconsistent delivery schedules creates many wrinkles for inbound handling that are both frustrating for employees and damaging to a company’s efficiency and accuracy. Too often, departments go from having a full team with nothing to do, to having a skeleton crew that’s overwhelmed with deliveries.

In the first case, money is being wasted on payroll and employees get bored and may look for other, more interesting opportunities. In the second case, employees at best get frustrated and at worst are forced to cut corners. This can lead to goods being miscounted, lost, or damaged.

Having flex space in the department, effective cross docking strategies, advanced shipping notifications, and a robust WMS to help with logistics are all effective ways to combat delivery lulls and surges.

Important considerations when evaluating a systems integration partner for your inbound handling processes

Are they consultative?

When partnering with a systems integrator, one of the risks material handling companies face is trying to work with a partner that promises more than they can deliver. The integration partner smiles through consultations and then, behind the scenes, desperately tries to invent the technology they need to deliver on their promises. They miss deadline after deadline until their client reaches a point of no return – they’re willing to justify their costs by seeing any kind of benefit from their investment. Even if those benefits are well below what was originally planned and agreed to.

PeakLogix is not that kind of partner. We are fully consultative, and prioritize your goals and needs. We undertake a thorough discovery process so that we understand both the roadblocks you face now and the goals you have for the future. Our solutions are designed to help you move past your roadblocks, and scale with your business growth. We don’t offer solutions in a top-down fashion that refuses input and denies questions, but collaborate with you and provide the recommendations we believe will best suit your needs.

Are they vendor agnostic?

Vendor agnostic solutions providers like PeakLogix don’t push their favorite suppliers onto their customers. Instead, we work with our suppliers to find and test the applications for which their product is the best fit. We don’t pitch untested products as viable solutions, but rather look for the best solution that already has a track record of solid performance.

Being open to integrating the best solutions on the market — regardless of their manufacturer — means we can truly optimize solutions for our clients, and quickly adjust to changing demands.

Do they develop tailored solutions for your unique challenges?

Being a consultative, vendor agnostic firm means that we look at every project with fresh eyes. Yes, we have decades of experience that inform our decisions and help us quickly find solutions to problems — but we don’t try to force the same solution on every client.

Instead, we work with our clients to discover both their pain points and goals. And our approach often leads to two positive outcomes. First, the discovery of unknown root causes to problems that allow us to address systemic issues with solutions of a customized design. And second, the application of scalable solutions that will both meet today’s challenges, and scale in ways the company needs to meet its future goals.

Can they scale to your needs?

The changing urban landscape, an aging workforce, the large-scale adoption of ecommerce, and the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning have created challenges and brought opportunities that are continuing to change industries in every sector. Businesses need solutions that are more responsive than ever, with the ability to scale both up and down to meet a company’s growth as well as periodic changes in demand.

PeakLogix has been solving the material-handling needs of companies of every size, and in many industries, for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our own continuous improvement because we know that designing systems that will adapt to your changing business needs means being knowledgeable about changes in the industry. By offering adaptive solutions where appropriate, we bring added value to our partners.

Are they available when you need them?

PeakLogix started in 1989 as a material handling and systems integrator serving clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 30 years, we’ve completed thousands of successful projects and have grown to become a thought leader in the industry and a national provider of innovative solutions, software systems, and automated technologies.

From the beginning of our working relationships with clients, our team works to discover your goals and challenges. We collaborate with you to develop solutions that meet your needs today and also lay the groundwork for your future growth. When your project is complete, we offer services including 24/7 system support, operator training, and maintenance and repairs.

At PeakLogix, our partnerships are our priority.

What logistics, automation, and distribution solutions should you consider for your inbound handling solution?

WMS Software (PickPro®)

ScottTech PickPro® is our proprietary Warehouse Management Software (WMS). It’s a fully independent, system-agnostic, web-based software solution that can control all aspects of distribution, and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any material handling company.

ScottTech PickPro® can serve as a standalone solution, or integrate with your ERP. It can incorporate AS/RS equipment and all the peripherals, track and manage inventory of both parts and goods, and layer seamlessly with your software architecture to provide granular feedback on, and control of, your operations.

Pick to Light

Pick-to-light is a cost-effective solution that streamlines warehouse picking operations and increases picking speed, accuracy, and productivity. Especially in omnichannel fulfillment centers, pick-to-light solutions enable the reliable processing of high numbers of SKUs, while increasing efficiency.

Pick-to-light solutions are often a good entry point for a warehouse’s automation transformation. They can work as standalone systems, or integrate with Warehouse Management Software, enabling them to easily scale with a company’s growth.

Barcode Technologies

Barcode labels and scanners were first introduced in the retail sector in 1974, where they increased grocery tellers’ speeds and accuracies, and helped keep more accurate inventory counts.

For the same reasons, barcode technology is an integral part of many high-throughput distribution centers. Combined with a robust WMS and smart technologies, barcode scanning also enables real-time visibility into the movement of goods throughout a facility.

Robotic palletizers

Robotic palletizing and depalletizing increases the accuracy, consistency, and efficiency of your operations. Automated palletizing increases throughput, lowers shipping fees, and helps optimize the use of space in a warehouse and shipping container by palletizing items more compactly. Automated depalletizing allows your processes to maintain a steady throughput, increases worker safety, and increases efficiency.

Automation can eliminate, or at least reduce, the manual labor associated with palletizing and depalletizing, freeing that labor to move on to more value-adding and rewarding tasks. With the right end-of-arm tool, they can handle everything from the heaviest boxes and pails to the thinnest slip sheets and dunnage.


Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) enhance productivity and workflow in both manufacturing and distribution facilities. AGVs help streamline processes, decrease delays, and move heavy, bulky materials efficiently and safely.

Guided vehicles use a number of navigational methods, tailored to your facility’s needs. They can be customized and programmed to follow the paths in a facility that are safest for staff and most efficient. They can be an integral part of a facility’s material handling and also programmed for complementary tasks such as trash collection or other housekeeping tasks.


Conveyors are a time-tested means of efficiently moving material of all shapes and sizes, from heavy pallets to fine powders.

Simple roller conveyor systems can be used to help employee ergonomics and lower the risk of injury. Energy efficient motorized drive rollers (MDRs) can be spaced throughout a long conveyor, creating accumulation zones. The speed and even direction of MDRs can be controlled with optical sensors.

More complicated systems, like sortation conveyors with pick and divert technology, are part of highly complex ecommerce fulfillment centers.

Sortation Conveyor Systems

Automated sortation is the process of first identifying and then diverting items on a conveyance system. The conveyor is connected with the facility’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) and, depending on the system, can identify items by weight, color, shape or identifying tags.

Conveyors might use a number of sortation systems to get product to the right destination, including pushers, paddles, shoes, cross belts, and more. In the right applications, automated sortation systems are both faster and more accurate than manual sortation and picking.

Advance your operations.

Schedule a consultation.

Tell us about your needs and we’ll have someone contact you to talk about the various inbound handling solutions for your operations.