A well run warehouse is the basis for efficient operations and can be the strongest asset for a business. Whether large or small, there is no reason why every warehouse can’t be organised as a smooth operation that reduces waste and helps to contribute to a healthy bottom line. A few basic changes can turn operations from slow and disorganised into a model of modern efficiency.
REVIEW YOUR FLOOR PLAN
The most basic element of warehouse efficiency is the way that the space is used. Many businesses assume that if warehouse operations aren’t as efficient as they could be, the answer is to buy more space. However, in the majority of cases this simply isn’t necessary and all that is really required is making better use of existing space instead. Product placement is key – is the best selling product the easiest to get to?
The use of existing space can be optimised with smart storage – from shelves to stacking there is always a better way to use the space you have, such as a Goods Lift.
ENSURE INVENTORY ACCURACY
Keeping accurate records of stock, and what has happened to it, is essential for an efficient warehouse. This kind of data will feed into decisions such as where to place certain products and which products count as best sellers, as well as reducing time spent by the workforce searching for information.
Using a barcode system, RFID, or keeping records of in- and outgoing products can help to track activity and make future planning much simpler. An auto-order system could also be handy is your products are fast moving; when products reach a certain stock level they are re-ordered automatically.
ESTABLISH EFFICIENT PROCESSES
Assess the various processes within the warehouse – Inbound, Processing and Outbound – and work out how these can be improved. Reorganisation of space and staff training can both benefit Inbound steps such as unloading, counting, identifying, registering, marketing and quality control, for example. Introducing new technology can help to optimise Outbound activities involved in packing and shipping, such as routing, invoicing and loading. If you’re stuck for ideas often the richest source of information is the existing workforce. They will already have identified issues that they deal with every day and may even have suggestions for solutions.
The human elements of a warehouse are crucial to ensuring its efficiency and that means maintaining a motivated and high performing staff.
Provide sufficient training for employees to confidently do the job and make sure health and safety is prioritised. Introduce regular assessments with the opportunity to review performance and set goals to keep motivation levels high.
Reassess whether there are features of the way the warehouse that is run that could be affecting staff commitment, from poor maintenance of the space, to out of date technology.
Simply holding a regular casual meeting with your staff can help to bring to light and issues that may not be remembered in a more formal meeting, meaning any problems can be fixed before they cause frustration and a drop in morale.