Your warehouse productivity has a major impact on your revenue, profit, and customer experience. An efficient warehouse ensures swift, error-free deliveries; helping improve your customer experience. Streamlining warehouse operations, however, is a job easier said than done. There are several variables involved that need to be considered.
Many managers fail to improve warehouse operations because they immediately try to influence macro factors without working to address the minor concerns first. You need to avoid this mistake. Though many warehouse managers constantly fail at streamlining their warehouse operations, surprisingly enough, warehouse management is not an impossible task. When you are on a mission to improve your warehouse operations, keep things simple. Try to look at the bigger picture without ignoring the short-term implications of your decisions. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of some handy warehousing tips.
1. Ensure optimum utilization of space
Warehouse managers who do not have a plan to optimize space are bound to fail. Optimum utilization of space helps save time and avoid accidents and errors. When planning to ensure optimum utilization of space, revisit your warehouse layout. To utilize vertical space, add taller storage shelves as it will help you store more items in the same square footage.
Instead of using just one type of shelves, think variety. Avoid storing small items in pallet racks. To steer clear of clutter and keep shelves neat and orderly, use standardized bins. To help the picking team save time, place your most in-demand items closest to the delivery areas. Store items that are picked up together close to each other.
To maximize space, store items according to their size. Go through reports generated by your WMS to find out how often SKUs are picked. Get rid of items that haven’t been picked in a year.
2. Train and motivate your warehouse employees
Using best management practices and advanced warehousing solutions will not make any difference if your employees do not know what’s expected of them. As a warehouse manager, training your staff on compliance and safety should be one of your priorities. To help your employees keep abreast of the changing warehouse management trends, conduct training sessions at regular intervals.
Communicate business goals and the role they are expected to play to help achieve these objectives to your employees. To ensure operations are not affected when employees go on leave or resign, cross-train teams. Furthermore, to motivate your workers, link bonuses to tenure and performance – recognize and reward your top performers.
When wanting to check the relevancy and efficacy of your training program, conduct surprise tests and revisit your training modules at regular intervals. If your employees are struggling to grasp key concepts, consider tweaking your training methodologies.
3. Adopt enabling technologies
When it comes to improving warehouse productivity, the importance of opting for a warehouse management system cannot be emphasized enough. A WMS helps predict the best routes and methods for picking and put-away. To help save time, effort, and resources, and avoid errors, a warehouse management system sends automated pickup lists to mobile devices.
To keep a tab on your picking and loading error rates and avoid accidents, consider investing in automated picking tools such as robotic order picking, voice automated order picking, and pick-to-light. Opt for automated guided vehicles that can help automate your storing and retrieval processes and keep a tab on labor costs.
If you are struggling to improve your throughput and accuracy, opt for an automated storage and retrieval system. Look for the Internet of Things-enabled devices that can generate reports.
4. Have an equipment maintenance plan in place
Warehouse equipment, like all other industrial equipment, require regular maintenance to work effectively. Train your workers on effective and safe equipment usage practices. Make sure your maintenance staff checks every equipment prior to use. Any repair issues should be immediately brought to the notice of repair teams.
To keep a tab on maintenance costs and downtime, have a preventive maintenance program in place. Make sure your maintenance team follows manufacturer’s instructions when performing maintenance tasks. Conduct inspections at regular intervals. If you have too many complex and expensive equipment, consider hiring a specialist or negotiating an annual maintenance contract with a reputable service provider. For large warehouses, consider using a computerized maintenance management system.
5. Strategize to improve your picking and packing efficiencies
Order picking is one of the most expensive activities in a warehouse. A post that talks about improving warehouse efficiency is incomplete without discussing ways to streamline the picking process. To improve your picking accuracy, and help pickers save time, avoid mixing multiple SKUs in the same location. When reducing travel times, consider investing in a conveyor system, and combining multiple orders into a single travel instance.
If your warehouse layout is such that your workers are forced to pick vertically, place slowest velocity items in vertical locations while keeping the fastest velocity items at floor level. To increase the hit density of SKUs that are picked often, create hot zones.
6. Measure warehouse efficiency
If wanting to find out where you stand and how much more distance needs to be covered to get to your goals, conduct operational audits at regular intervals. Establish and track critical KPIs, such as order picking accuracy, inventory accuracy, and rate of return. Use reports generated by your data-tracking software to identify problems that are impacting your fulfillment speed. Adopt best practices for data-driven decision making.
Educate yourself on the Top 6 Ways Warehouse Management Systems Deliver ROI.