An efficient warehouse is a profitable warehouse. To ensure optimal efficiency, you should always keep asking yourself if things at your warehouse can be done in less time with less labour and lower costs to yield maximized productivity while maintaining the highest quality of work.
Here are 5 areas to consider:
Automation is the use of various control systems for operating equipment and processes with nominal labour. Robotic automation ultimately results in greater warehouse efficiency and productivity and labour cost savings.
There is a vast array of software on the market today for warehouse management. You can purchase programs for inventory control, equipment maintenance, shipping and receiving, and labour.
Many programs can be tried out on a free trial basis – take advantage of this to see without obligation if a certain system suits your particular needs. Consider, for instance, using a Warehouse Management System – this software application will improve efficiency of many warehouse processes, such as picking, put away, shipping and receiving.
Switching old equipment for new is an investment, but one that will pay off a big return — new equipment is often faster and breaks down less. Consider purchasing such things as new lifts or doors. As a side benefit, new equipment will also boost worker morale – it will show your workers that you care about making their jobs easier, and that will increase productivity and profitability.
- Warehouse Layout
If possible, broaden the warehouse area. An expansion will not only allow you to store more inventory, but will also create a better working environment and improve worker morale and productivity. If warehouse expansion is not possible, try using the existing vertical space to optimize space. For instance, consider installing a storage solution such as pallet racking.
- Warehouse Organization
Your pickers need to be able to locate inventory quickly and easily, so organize the warehouse in a logical fashion. Ensure that items that move fast out of the warehouse are front and center, and products that are usually ordered together are stocked together. Generate pick lists designed for optimum time efficiency — sequence orders in such a way as to save on unnecessary back-and-forth by pickers from one location to another.
Schedule a regular warehouse clean-out day. A clean warehouse means workers can move around and find orders that much quicker.
To reduce the risk of workplace injuries due to repetitive manual tasks, think about installing organized workstations ergonomically designed for specific tasks and workers. This will not only reduce workplace injuries, but also contribute to greater productivity.
- Warehouse Safety
Install appropriate lighting. A well-lit warehouse is not only a safer warehouse, but also a more productive one because brightness enables your employees to do their job better.
Accidents are costly. Make sure your employees are well informed and trained on all safety measures. One area fraught with hazards is forklift operations – your operators must be well trained and have designated traffic lanes.
If possible, offer incentives and rewards for worker efficiency – this is a proven way to boost productivity, and increase worker morale and loyalty.
Have senior managers visit the floor on a regular basis to show workers that management cares and is hands-on. The other benefit to this is that senior managers get to see how operations work first-hand and will be able to spot potential inefficiencies and bottlenecks.
Continuous training is crucial, not only to update and refresh specific worker skills, but because warehouse processes change periodically, employees need to be instructed in the new way of doing things. It’s also a good idea to cross-train your employees (train them to be able to perform more than just their specific function), so in case of a worker sickness or vacation, other employees can step in to fulfill that function.